Friday, August 6, 2010

Hook vs. needle

I've had a grand time getting into crochet this summer, after the logic of it finally clicked about a month ago thanks to the fantastic book Teach Yourself Visually Crocheting and a long soak in YouTube.  As I work on new shapes and techniques, I've frequently taken my crocheting to work to pull out during my frequent meetings.  I've also crocheted at home while catching up on TV.  And while I've grown pretty fast with my hook (if I do say so myself), there remains one hurdle I don't know if I will ever get over -- one that will limit the presence of crochet in my life.  I can't crochet without looking.

I can knit without looking.  Very easily, in fact.  The stitches sit there on the needle, waiting to be caught and pulled through, lined up in a neat queue.  After enough time, you get to know your needles and your yarn and your tension and your movements well enough to whip through them while your eyes are firmly fixed on a speaker or the television or even a book.

But crochet doesn't have stitches waiting to be knit.  It has a previous row or round that contains spaces -- spaces into which a hook has to be inserted quite deliberately to create a new stitch.  Frequently, spaces are used to make more than one stitch.  Frequently, spaces are skipped.  You have to look at your work to direct your hook into the proper space.  After that, for a second or two, it's all automatic, as you complete the stitch, but then you have to look again to find the next space.  The space isn't waiting for you as an incomplete loop, the way it is on a knitting needle.  It is completed.  It is a self-contained design element.  It doesn't need your hook; it will not unravel if you fail to work into it.  It's already done.  To make it into the foundation out of which a new row or round will grow, you must invade it and transform it into an anchor point for the next stitch.  And you must look and choose and insert; the hook will not find it by sliding along the work automatically, the way your right needle can find the next unworked stitch on the left one.

I pull out my knitting almost every time I'm placed in the position of listening or engaging in structured conversation.  But that's only because I don't have to look at it while I work.  I can stay completely involved in the discussion or presentation, maintaining eye contact, and still keep my hands busy (and my mind from wandering or eyes from drooping).  Crochet, I think, is unlikely to have that virtue.  I'm more likely to look absorbed in my handcraft and disconnected from what's going on around me ... and I'm more likely to actually be that way, if I have to turn my eyes frequently to what I'm doing.

No comments: