Friday, July 26, 2013

A little crocheting history .....

As stated in my profile, I am (almost) a history teacher.  All things historical interest me.  Here is a little crochet history I found in my research ......

On August 7, 1900, “The Queen’s Scarf” is awarded to Colour Sargeant F. F. Ferret, a member of Queen Victoria’s Royal West Surrey Regiment as a “personal token” of the Queen’s regard.  It is one of only 8 scarves hand-crocheted by the Queen herself to be awarded to soldiers & is on display in the Nat’l Army Museum in London. 

Crocheting was considered a pastime of the upper class to make things decorate their homes. They believed the lower classes did not need pretty things for their homes so lower classes were discouraged & even prohibited from crocheting. Instead they were encouraged to knit basic necessities such as socks.  

Queen Victoria enjoying the craft of crocheting.
During the potato famine, crocheting was taught to encourage a cottage industry of selling lace to the upper class, but crocheting was much faster than knitting and an overabundance of lace resulted, making it seem “common and and undesirable”.  When Queen Victoria was sent a crocheted lace collar, she not only wore it but began crocheting herself, removing the “stigma” from the art.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Size Matters!

I'm betting THAT headline got your attention!

"How long does it take you to make an afghan?" (or a doily .... or a scarf ... or a poncho ... etc.)  The answer is always ..., let me repeat, always ... "it depends."

It depends not so much on the pattern, but on the size of the thread/yarn and the size of the needle.  In this article, I will try to help illustrate.  Be warned:  I love to "do the math"!

The squares in this picture were all made with the same pattern.  

Square #1 and Square #2 were made with the same size hook, a yarn hook size "E", but with different size yarns.  

Square #1 is 3.00" wide.  
Square #2 is 3.75" wide.  

How does this affect the time it takes to make an afghan? 

If we are planning a 48"x48" afghan, we would have to make 256 of the square #1 (16 squares per row x 16 rows), but only 169 of the square #2 (13 squares per row x 13 rows).

What non-crafters many times fail to understand is that it takes the same amount of time to make the square, regardless of the size of the needle/yarn. They assume the smaller square takes less time.  It is quite the opposite, when talking about the final product.  

The difference is the end result size, not the time it takes to make each square. Let's assume 45 minutes per square.  For square #1, 256 squares x 45 minutes each = 11,520 minutes or 192 hours.  For square #2, 169 squares x 45 minutes each = 7605 minutes or 127 hours. That's a different of 65 hours.  

I don't know about you but making gifts for my friends is not a full time job.  65 hours, assuming I get to spend 2 hours a day on my friend's project, means it will take me an extra 21 days .... 3 weeks ..... to make a 48"x48" afghan using square #1 vs. square #2.

A quick comparison/summary of the squares in the photo:

  • Square #1 and square #2 were made with the same needle (sizes "E") but different yarns.  #1 is 3" wide and #2 is 3.75" wide.
  • Square #2 and square #3 were made with the same yarn but different needles.  #2 was made with size "E" and #3 was made with size "H".  The size differences are 3.75" vs. 4.5".
  • Square #3 and square #4 were made with the same needle (size "H") but different yarn. The size differences are 4.5" vs. 6".

A quick summary of how this impacts your time on the project, assuming a 48"x48" afghan and assuming 45 minutes per square:
  • Square #1: will take 256 squares and 192 hours.
  • Square #2: will take 169 squares and 127 hours.
  • Square #3: will take 121 squares and   91 hours.
  • Square #4: will take   64 squares and   48 hours.

I will "do the math" on different yarn sizes in an upcoming article.



For the past four years I have been one of the older students at IUPUI (Indiana/Purdue Univ) at Indianapolis.  At the age of 50, I went back to school to get my teaching degree. I carried a full time class load and worked part time jobs (sometimes double shifts, sometimes two part time jobs at the same time) during the school year.

But during the summer ..... that was "me" time.  I dug my crochet needles, threads and yarns out of storage and crocheted away!

I learned to crochet when I was seven years old.  My mom, who had learned from her mom, taught my six year old sister and I in one afternoon.  We also learned on thread.  At the end of my school year in second grade, I had become an entrepreneur, selling small doilies for fifty cents to my classmates as Mother's Day gifts.  I didn't crochet anything with yarn until I was in my mid-twenties and made my first afghan.  Until then, I had only crocheted doilies and jewelry, using thread.

As I became exposed to other crocheters, I came to appreciate how lucky I was that I was taught on thread.  I encountered many crocheters who, when trying to make the transition from yarn to thread, had a terrible time working with "that tiny stuff!"  It was hard for them.  And frustrating.  My experience in going from thread to yarn was a no brainer.  I couldn't believe how simple it was and I had to work to understand why going from yarn to thread would be so hard for some.  (I had the same experience in my wedding cake world.  I learned to make cakes with buttercream so going to fondant .... which I think of as "edible playdough" .... was SO easy.  I heard many cakers, who learned with fondant, how hard it was to switch to buttercream.)

The lesson here?  Always start with the hardest project!!

Debi Stringing Beads
I'm a pretty fast crafter.  (I also speed read and speed-type).  So during the summer, I really pump out the projects.  Every new baby gets an afghan.  I began adding beads and new stitches to my crafting resume.  I was a gramma and was in the era of discovery of new and fun things!!

I soon discovered that I was making things faster than I could find homes for them. Fortunately, I have a sister-in-law who operates an S.O.S. (Senior Opportunity Services) store in my hometown of Richmond, Indiana.  This consignment shop takes in hand-made craft items from the senior ladies in the area, giving them an outlet for their crafts.  Sales from this store benefit the local Salvation Army.  Not only does the store allow crafters to make a little money on the side, but more important, our items benefit a great organization.

Here is the link to the Richmond S.O.S. store: .  It is located in the historic district in town.  I remember going to this shop when it was a grocery store when I was just a kid.  It is a vital piece of historical architecture in town.  (And as a history teacher, historical architecture is a big interest of mine!)

I make no claims to be an expert or professional in any way. Just a gramma who loves to crochet and share ideas with others.  I've been told I hold my crochet hook "funny", but it works for me!  I've tried to hold it like I see others in videos and to be honest I have to ask, "How do you folks DO that?"  I feel like one of those folks in the $19.95 commercials who are too clumsy to hold a screwdriver!  (LOL!)  So whatever the 'right' way is to hold a needle, I do it the comfortable way!

I began teaching my granddaughter to crochet last summer.  If she keeps it up, she will be at least a fourth generation crocheter in my family.

Let's not let the art die.  Let's keep it going!

I hope you enjoy the ramblings of this crocheting gramma!