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The Needlers and the Hookers and the damage done
July 13, 2009 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Crafters may look like a close-knit group, but the reality is that there are armed camps within crafting. Knitters and crocheters brandish their respective tools and claim their craft is easier to learn or more versatile, while those who are bistitchual remain determinedly on the fence. For the uninitiated/uncrafty, here’s an explanation of the difference between the two. “Wooly Bullies” [sic], a documentary, explores the animus between the Needles and the Hooks. When Sandi Wiseheart of Knitting Daily dares to mention the “c” word, she gets many comments from knitting readers who, while stressing that they have nothing against crochet, just don’t want to see it in their backyard magazine. When Kim Werker, editor of Interweave Crochet, tries to talk to the Knitting Daily crowd about crocheting she gets even more negative feedback. Part of the problem seems to be that while knitters contend with the “old lady’s pastime” stereotype, crocheters are up against the much more negative “granny square and toilet paper cosy” stigma. [shakes head in sorrow] Crafters, can’t we all just get along? and make stuff?
posted by orange swan (111 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
Of course, my post is intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but I did come across some really interesting insights from Kim Werker in this 2006 interview when she’s asked about the conflict between knitting and crochet. While researching this FPP I learned that crochet is much younger than knitting. There are extant fragments of knitting dating back to the eleventh century, but crochet doesn’t seem to have existed much before 1800. Werker says crocheting first came to North America as an easy and affordable way for poor and working class women to make lace, while knitting was the already established craft that everyone did. Moreover, knitting machines were invented over 200 years ago, but to this day crocheted items can only be produced by hand. Werner theorizes that this one-sided technological benefit resulted in knitting becoming a constant and a staple means of clothing production, while crocheting repeatedly goes in and out of fashion. It’s surprising and thought-provoking to speculate that this half-joking, half-real schism between knitters and crocheters may have its roots in classist attitudes from 200 years ago.
posted by orange swan at 9:31 AM on July 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


You mention crafters in general, but your post only covers the divide between knitting and crochet. What of us Macaroni-and-glue folks, who look down our curved, brittle, glued-on nose at you lowly string-knotters?
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:34 AM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not to mention we artisans of the toilet paper roll!
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:37 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I see a f#@$ing Needle in this thread, I am going to slip-stitch their ass.

HOOKS FOREVER! Down with Needles!

I know nothing of knitting nor crocheting. But I like it.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:39 AM on July 13, 2009


When you're a Hook,
You're a Hook all the way
From your first cigarette
To your last dyin' day.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:40 AM on July 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


W.T.F.

I thought the knitters in that video were at least partially kidding but they sure don't seem to be, at least in the sections I watched. They seemed genuinely angry, for instance, that knitters and crocheters were seated next to each other. My mom knits. I should casually (and fictitiously) mention that I'm thinking of picking up crochet to see what she says.

Also, if crochet is so much faster and simpler, why is knitting still so widespread? The stigma? Or are there structural reasons, i.e. you can't make $X via crochet?
posted by DU at 9:40 AM on July 13, 2009


I choose to stick with decidedly un-hip needlepoint.
posted by tippiedog at 9:42 AM on July 13, 2009


you mean they aren't the same thing?
posted by djduckie at 9:44 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ahh, Hate. Is there nothing you cannot do?
posted by aramaic at 9:45 AM on July 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


You forgot about the crankers, the hardest of the hardcore.
posted by Chrischris at 9:48 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I will not mock the people in that video.
I will not mock the people in that video.
I will not mock the people in that video.


Oh what the hell. Why not? I mean, seriously? Was that guy crying on camera when he brought out the first piece of knitting he ever owned? Does he truly espouse a theory that those who crochet have smaller brains than those who knit? There's a podcast out there for crocheters who have been kicked out of knitting families?

I guess I thought I had things a bit difficult re: family issues and social acceptance living as a gay man in the US. I guess I don't know how bad it could be!
posted by hippybear at 9:51 AM on July 13, 2009


Portugese knitting needles look like crochet hooks.
posted by keli at 9:53 AM on July 13, 2009


Knitters are wanky. WANKY. And thank goodness for it because otherwise I wouldn't have been introduced to the phase "God's magical fucking pubic hairs." I think we can all agree the world is a better place for it.
posted by LeeJay at 9:54 AM on July 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


The documentary was totally a spoof, DU. You must not have gotten to the point at which the crocheter talks sadly about how her family of knitters won't speak to her anymore.
posted by orange swan at 9:54 AM on July 13, 2009


hippybear: "I will not mock the people in that video."

Just mock the people in this video, the Truman Capote Support Group.
posted by The White Hat at 9:55 AM on July 13, 2009


I guess it is a good thing that my gay colleague knits and doesn't crochet. His family accepted him when he came out. Would they still love him if he crocheted?
posted by onhazier at 9:57 AM on July 13, 2009


I did get to the part where she said they "weren't comfortable with" her being a crocheter. Didn't raise any alarms on my Unixrat BS-o-meter. Whether that speaks to my credulity or my experience I leave up to the reader.
posted by DU at 9:57 AM on July 13, 2009


I think it's in the nature of sub-cultures to further divide themselves into sub-sub-cultures. I'm into boardgaming, and there's sometimes animosity between people who like American style boardgames and those who prefer European style boardgames. I think people like to feel that they are part of something distinctive and original, and sometimes that "something" get too broad and includes too many people, so they subdivide.
posted by diogenes at 9:59 AM on July 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


A tempest in a cozy covered teapot!
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 10:00 AM on July 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've seen this sort of thing before. It's usually found at the intersection of a small portfolio and lots of like new tools.

What I like about metal work is that you can, if you choose to be foolish enough, wind up anywhere between scarred and identifiable via dental records. Once you get to that point, the only person you really feel like you have to agree with is the guy holding the other end of the crucible shank.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:02 AM on July 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Is this like when Star Wars geeks argue with LOTR geeks?
posted by rocket88 at 10:02 AM on July 13, 2009


Also, if crochet is so much faster and simpler, why is knitting still so widespread? The stigma? Or are there structural reasons, i.e. you can't make $X via crochet?

The saying is "You can make knitting look like crochet, but you can't make crochet look like knitting."

The last time I went to my LYS (local yarn store), a customer hanging out knitting in the front room asked me what I had on the needles. I mentioned that I crochet, and she replied "Oh. Crochet." and said no more. It was somewhat unnerving.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:02 AM on July 13, 2009


Oh my GOD, LeeJay, I am laughing so hard over your links that tears are streaming down over my face. Thanks for justifying my FPP by adding those.
posted by orange swan at 10:04 AM on July 13, 2009


Is this like when Star Wars geeks argue with LOTR geeks?

Yes, except it's much geekier.
posted by orange swan at 10:05 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm bistitchual and proud.

Also, if crochet is so much faster and simpler, why is knitting still so widespread? The stigma? Or are there structural reasons, i.e. you can't make $X via crochet?


Crochet uses considerably more fiber per square inch, and creates a stiffer fabric with little or no stretch. It tends not to be as practical for wearables, but is terrific for ornamental items and the classic afghan. Knitting is more versatile and practical for clothing. They both have their place.
posted by padraigin at 10:07 AM on July 13, 2009


[In] Civilization and its Discontents Freud wrote "I gave this phenomenon the name of 'the narcissism of minor differences,' a name which does not do much to explain it"
- languagehat


Crafting feuds are so vicious because the stakes are so low.
posted by dammitjim at 10:09 AM on July 13, 2009


No love for the looms? What about afghan hooks? It's like one handed knitting.

That documentary? Is it real? In my knitting circle at church, I've heard tell of the groups that would meet at the textile shop - how they'd look down on our general level of skill (beginner-intermediate, most of us, with a single genius). This is crazy extreme.

Thinking about the online responses, it's not much different from "This is not what Metafilter/AskMe/MeTa is for" discussions we have all the time.

IME, crochet is simpler, but it's easier to mess up and be careless, so stuff can end up looking like crap. I know I've learned to pay more attention to what I'm doing with the dishcloth project we're doing now.
posted by lysdexic at 10:10 AM on July 13, 2009


As a handspinner, I know I'm far more intelligent, dexterous and discerning than knitters or crocheters.
posted by QIbHom at 10:13 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Your favorite band sucks.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:14 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Personally, when it comes to crafting, I'm trystitchual. I'll try anything once, twice if I like it, and after that, hey, who's counting!
posted by orange swan at 10:15 AM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


As a crocheter, I have to say that I respectfully disagree with padraigin--crochet can be used to make beautiful clothing that drapes wonderfully; however, that usually requires more skill and more advanced stitches. Robyn Chachula's designs are a good example of this.
Also, you CAN make crochet look like knitting--it's called Tunisian Crochet, and it has a knit stitch and a purl stitch, but is done with a crochet hook and is a little faster, and uses a tiny bit more yarn.
Overall, though, I have to say I've had a pretty good reception as a crocheter. I live in a big city with lots of crochet-friendly yarn shops, and even though I'm the only crocheter in a knitting group, everyone's been really friendly. I do hear a lot of stories online, though, and occasionally Ravelry will erupt with some knit v. crochet drama, but I feel fortunate not to have run into it personally.
posted by catwoman429 at 10:15 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Love your title, orange swan!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:18 AM on July 13, 2009


The saying is "You can make knitting look like crochet, but you can't make crochet look like knitting."

Oh, yes I can. I'll have to look up the stitch name later, but my scarves totally look knitted.

Geeze, now I'm starting up. This could be real. I'm skeerd
posted by lysdexic at 10:22 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


As long as there's a steady supply of Bangladeshi child laborers to exploit, I refuse to take up knitting.
posted by grounded at 10:22 AM on July 13, 2009


Dear lord. That Fandom Wank link is a GOLD mine. :D
posted by zarq at 10:22 AM on July 13, 2009


As a crocheter, I have to say that I respectfully disagree with padraigin...

Uh oh. :)
posted by zarq at 10:22 AM on July 13, 2009


I'm hopelessly butterfingered, and I stand in awe of anybody who can crochet OR knit.
posted by contessa at 10:24 AM on July 13, 2009


I laughed once when the author of the Stitch 'n' Bitch knitting book said (in an interview) that if you want "instant gratification" you should just sew something because knitting was all about the slow process etc... There's nothing slow about sewing a well-fitting garment (yes, a crap garment can be sewn quickly, but who wants that?)

(The only yarn-related craft I'd like to learn is tatting - but only to make lace for clothing embelishment: no doilies!!!) and I think split-ply braiding looks pretty cool too. I doubt either of these will ever get the hipster treatment. I see macrame making a comeback before tatting.
posted by vespabelle at 10:24 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


[sic]

What's wrong with that title?
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:25 AM on July 13, 2009


I'm currently weighing yarn choices for a Clapochet, which is a crochet reinvention of the knit Clapotis scarf/ stole/ shawl pattern. The pics I've seen on Ravelry suggest that the Clapochet has great drape in the right yarn, so I don't think lack of drape is inherently a problem with crochet technique itself.

As for Tunisian crochet, I'm personally terrified. I've just gotten past drawstring pouches and one bag project (the fantastic Masa Bag by Lisa Risager). Anything more complex may end in chaos in my hands.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:25 AM on July 13, 2009


If you admit the mockumentary had you in stitches will someone come after you with knitting needle?
posted by MuffinMan at 10:27 AM on July 13, 2009


I just admire all these crafts, because they turn random fidgeting into productive energy. I have tried so many times to take up knitting, crocheting, or any number of similar largely mindless fidget hobbies, but they all seem to escape me after a while. How many incomplete projects does one man need sitting around his house, anyway? ;)

Besides, with MeFi, who has time for knitting?
posted by hippybear at 10:28 AM on July 13, 2009


What about us that work in brightly coloured copper wire?

At least we got the strangling bit down.
posted by Talanvor at 10:32 AM on July 13, 2009


I'm a knitter and not a crocheter, but I desperately want to learn to crochet, because Ravelry is full of awesome crocheted hats. And I do love a fetching hat. I don't understand why we can't all just get along and join forces to beat up on the scrapbookers, who deserve it.

(Joke! Joke! Please don't hurt me!)
posted by craichead at 10:32 AM on July 13, 2009 [9 favorites]


I learned how to crochet as a child, and I learned how to knit as a young adult, but I never really got the hang of either. My hands always felt awkward and my stitches were always too tight. I am so envious of people who can sit and relax and create beautiful things from yarn.

Over the years, I've thought about joining some classes to re-learn crocheting and knitting (and this post is making me feel the crafting yen), but I get paralyzed by fear of failure.

I can cross-stitch like nobody's business, though!
posted by amyms at 10:34 AM on July 13, 2009


Kim and I had an amazing conversation about this the first time we met, and we continue to think a lot at the office about the differences between crocheters and knitters as market groups. One interesting thing is that there's been very little recording of crochet technique and history, while knitting traditions have been written about and studied for ages. Knitting's enjoyed a long history in enough regions of the world to allow some incredibly different styles and techniques to emerge (Estonian lace! Andean, Scottish, and Scandinavian colorwork! Danish twined knitting! Town-specific gansey constructions from GB! Cable patterns that followed fishing routes! And on and on). There's an anthropological/ethnographic element there that doesn't exist yet for crochet, which is sort of carried through in the way we see knitters kind of fetishize esoteric/regional technique and history. There's just more there to write about and read about.

This divide is so fascinating to me. It really couldn't exist except at this point, 200+ years post Industrial Revolution, post Arts and Crafts movement. Remember that even up until the last century, these kind of home arts weren't really anything to be commented upon - everyone crocheted, and everyone knitted. It was simply cheaper for most people to produce those goods at home than to purchase them. And they were mostly workhorse items, even if they were decorative - it was only in the 1920s that knitted textiles became really desirable as anything more (The Prince of Wales in a Fair Isle jumper; Schiarparelli's couture sweaters). Handcrafts as a hobby is new. Debates about relative legitimacy are even newer.


posted by peachfuzz at 10:37 AM on July 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Of course, on the horizon is the simmering intra-knitting conflict between needle knitters, and the recently resurgent loom knitters.
posted by Badgermann at 10:38 AM on July 13, 2009


I'll stick with origami. No needles or hooks for me. All I need are THESE TWO HANDS.
posted by arcolz at 10:46 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


What about us that work in brightly coloured copper wire?

I used to have access to the thick telephone wires with hundreds of the little copper wires. They had great crazy colors and strips and shit. I'd wrap them around safety pins and have these really great looking tight spirals that I'd shape into jewelry and sell.

That and the macrame friendship bracelets. Just last summer I purged the last of the really odd threads.
posted by lysdexic at 10:47 AM on July 13, 2009


erm, "stripes and shit..."
posted by lysdexic at 10:48 AM on July 13, 2009


Knitters and crocheters are wank.

Embroidery, now, that's where it's at. Amirite?

you laugh, but you should see my butterflies.
posted by misha at 10:53 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with that title?

Er, nothing, it would seem. I had thought that "wooly" was a misspelling of "woolly", but apparently "wooly" is an accepted variant spelling. Oops.
posted by orange swan at 10:54 AM on July 13, 2009


I don't understand any of it myself. You can pick up a Chinese made sweater at Primark or H&M for about a shilling. Why on earth would anyone spend weeks pushing a needle around, only to end up with something that looks a zillion times worse than the cheapest of store-bought stuff?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:54 AM on July 13, 2009


I don't understand any of it myself. You can pick up a Chinese made sweater at Primark or H&M for about a shilling. Why on earth would anyone spend weeks pushing a needle around, only to end up with something that looks a zillion times worse than the cheapest of store-bought stuff?

Because there's no love in a mass-produced sweater from a trendy store. Because if you knit well enough, you can make a sweater that fits the wearer's taste exactly. Because knitting is about more than just a sweater.
posted by phatkitten at 11:01 AM on July 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I thought the knitters in that video were at least partially kidding but they sure don't seem to be, at least in the sections I watched.

Seems to me the whole video is a poor attempt at comedy.
posted by Bort at 11:07 AM on July 13, 2009


Why on earth would anyone spend weeks pushing a needle around, only to end up with something that looks a zillion times worse than the cheapest of store-bought stuff?

Have you spent the last 20 years held captive in the basement of someone who couldn't seem to learn to knit competently or to choose flattering yarns and styles but kept making you things anyway?
posted by orange swan at 11:08 AM on July 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


LeeJay, I was totally going to link to "magical pubic hairs" -- thank you for doing so.

I've been knitting for 3 years, I'm teaching myself crochet now. It honestly never occurred to me to feel like a snob about either one or the other. Strangely, I seem to have fallen in with a knitting group that advocates bistitchuality -- knowing a bit of both lets you switch up and use both as the needs of your project dictates (for instance, we all chipped in and made a baby blanket for one of our number -- each person knit a 8x8 inch square, then one person crocheted them all together and crocheted a border for the whole thing; it looked GORGEOUS).

Although sometimes people get a bit wanky about knowing both -- a few weeks ago at one of our meetings, one of the members suddenly got on a wild tear and turned to me and, in a tone I've only previously seen used by Jesuit missionaries, she started telling me about how I really should learn crochet because it would really save me so much time and would be a great way to use up the odd balls of yarn I kept saying I had and it would be so much faster and it was much easier than I thought and...I agreed to learn crochet partly out of fear.


She was right.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:19 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll stick with origami. No needles or hooks for me. All I need are THESE TWO HANDS.

....Don't you also need the paper?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:22 AM on July 13, 2009


*folds hands*

Apparently not.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:32 AM on July 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't understand any of it myself. You can pick up a Chinese made sweater at Primark or H&M for about a shilling. Why on earth would anyone spend weeks pushing a needle around, only to end up with something that looks a zillion times worse than the cheapest of store-bought stuff?
Because making stuff is fun. I think you're a little unclear on the concept of a hobby!
posted by craichead at 11:51 AM on July 13, 2009


....Don't you also need the paper?

SILENCE!!!
posted by odinsdream at 11:58 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't understand any of it myself. You can pick up a Chinese made sweater at Primark or H&M for about a shilling. Why on earth would anyone spend weeks pushing a needle around, only to end up with something that looks a zillion times worse than the cheapest of store-bought stuff?

Why would I want to spend a shilling when I can take some yarn I already have and make something for free?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:05 PM on July 13, 2009


I'm a crocheter and even I find myself thinking it is the lesser of the two crafts. Though that may be cause all I can seem to make properly are toys and lust after the many beautiful sweaters and shawls that I see knitters make on ravelry. I just can't seem to handle two needles though. I become a fumbling fool when I try to knit. I wish I could learn. Course teaching yourself via online videos probably doesn't help much.
posted by beautifulcheese at 12:12 PM on July 13, 2009


em>"Is this like when Star Wars geeks argue with LOTR geeks?"

Ford vs. Chevy; vi vs. EMACS; Steelers vs Packers; everyone is a geek about something.

"As long as there's a steady supply of Bangladeshi child laborers to exploit, I refuse to take up knitting."

With the whole global warming thing you might want to starting thinking about this.

"Why on earth would anyone spend weeks pushing a needle around, only to end up with something that looks a zillion times worse than the cheapest of store-bought stuff?"

Two aspects: One; who the heck would spend all day catching a trout/ chasing a ball with a stick/ killing virtual bad guys via Xbox? It's something to relax and spend time. Two; Competent custom is almost always worth more than mass produced anything. Especially in clothing where maybe 1 in a 100 people are an actual size. I essentially can't wear a commercial sweater as a unit that fits my arm length fits my body like a dress. And you practically can't buy a decent wool scarf.
posted by Mitheral at 12:29 PM on July 13, 2009


You knit what?

Sadly, no longer updated.
posted by lysdexic at 12:30 PM on July 13, 2009


I think split-ply braiding looks pretty cool too

I took up braiding and knotting cords a couple of years ago. It was really cool and fun but since I'm not crafty overall and didn't have pillows to edge or garments to frog, it ended up feeling pretty useless. I never progressed to split-ply braiding but I also thought it was totally cool.
posted by not that girl at 12:35 PM on July 13, 2009


Also, when I was a kid my mother crocheted a nativity scene. Angels, ox and ass, little baby Jesus, the wise men, the whole nine yards. It's probably the only thing my brother and I are going to fight about when our parents are gone.
posted by not that girl at 12:38 PM on July 13, 2009


Seems to me that many knitting patterns I encounter are advocating bistitchuality. I knit but don't crochet, and I've gotten thrown off by knitting patterns that call for crochet borders, which I don't know how to do. Just last week, I had to toss out a table runner pattern (that I'd already paid for online, damn it) because I can't single-crochet edging. Wasn't too happy. I felt like I should have gotten some kind of warning before I downloaded the thing, because I would comfortably consider myself an intermediate knitter (for texture, if not colorwork) but the crochet completely threw me.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:46 PM on July 13, 2009


A friend in my knitting group tells me that when the Vikings started knitting, it was widely regarded as the cheap, slutty new handcraft on the scene, clearly inferior to nalbinding. Knitting wank? Ooooooooold meme.

Also, not strictly wank but the finest of Internet trainwrecks, Mystical Creation Yarns. (There is a canonical epic thread, but you gotta be on Ravelry to see that.)
posted by clavicle at 1:03 PM on July 13, 2009


because I can't single-crochet edging. Wasn't too happy.

Well, to be fair, crochet needles cost like, a dollar at the craft store, and a single crochet edging is insanely easy to excecute and there are tons of free tutorials and videos online. Would you have thrown out the pattern if it asked for an i-cord edging that you didn't know? Or a lace stitch you'd never done before?
posted by muddgirl at 1:09 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Knitter here. Never got the hang of crochet. Also, I love to make sweaters, but most of the crochet patterns have an unfortunate horizontal element that doesn't work for someone with my height/build combination.
Why on earth would anyone spend weeks pushing a needle around, only to end up with something that looks a zillion times worse than the cheapest of store-bought stuff?
Strangely, the compliments I've gotten on my handknit sweaters run along the lines of "Where did you buy that?"
posted by pxe2000 at 1:09 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, not strictly wank but the finest of Internet trainwrecks, Mystical Creation Yarns. (There is a canonical epic thread, but you gotta be on Ravelry to see that.)

*reads in growing amazement*

WOW. When I get home, I'm actually going to post that over on the fandom_wank boards LeeJay mentioned above.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:13 PM on July 13, 2009


Would you have thrown out the pattern if it asked for an i-cord edging that you didn't know? Or a lace stitch you'd never done before?

Not necessarily, but I was on a short timeline for the object in question, thought I'd found just the right thing, and then got skunked by the crochet. I'm not necessarily saying that I won't ever learn it in the future, but when I see "knit" on a pattern, I want to be able to KNIT.

(And I also hate I-cord--in my book, the only way to do it properly is with one of those spool-knitters that I had when I was a little kid.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:38 PM on July 13, 2009


My wife is a knitter. Her friends are knitters. This past weekend I heard some disparaging words about crocheters. Excerpts: "I hate it when people come up and ask what I'm crocheting." "Yes! You'd think they would know better!"; "Crocheting is not necessarilly inferior to knitting. It has its place. But it is different." "Exactly. And they shouldn't mix crochet and knitting at stores."; "I guess those big needles are easy to handle." "Well, they have that hook so nothing slips off." "So, would you start a child with crocheting?" "No! Start them knitting right away! Don't let them get bad habits." So I thought that video was pretty funny. (My wife hasn't seen it yet.)

For those of you asking if the video was serious: you need to turn up your irony detector. It's located just below your humor damper.
posted by CCBC at 1:51 PM on July 13, 2009


Sidetrack: Is the title "When in Doubt, Fake Die" supposed to be a play on words, or intentionally awkward? (It's not wholly off-topic. The post itself is interesting enough, about a second faked death -or "fake die"- in the knitting community.)
posted by filthy light thief at 1:57 PM on July 13, 2009


Also, not strictly wank but the finest of Internet trainwrecks, Mystical Creation Yarns. (There is a canonical epic thread, but you gotta be on Ravelry to see that.)

And, you know, if you're over there reading wank anyhow, there's a MeFi group on Rav as well, MetaStitcher.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:08 PM on July 13, 2009


"I hate it when people come up and ask what I'm crocheting."

I crochet and knit, sometimes in public. If I'm knitting, someone will come up to me and ask me what I'm crocheting. If I'm crocheting, someone will come up to me and ask me what I'm knitting. Every freaking time.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:22 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


The answer is: "Your death shroud."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:24 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Beat you to it, lysdexic.
posted by orange swan at 3:39 PM on July 13, 2009


Schiarparelli's couture sweaters

I am so going to make myself that Schiaparelli bow knot sweater eventually. It can't be anytime soon, alas, as I must have a dozen or so hand-knitted sweaters and have resolved that I will not make myself any more until some of the ones I currently have are worn out. I'm thinking I'll make it in a brown and cream since black doesn't become me....
posted by orange swan at 3:44 PM on July 13, 2009


Haven't finished following all the links - but I'm wondering if maybe this is a generational thing? I learned to crochet from my grandmother, who could crochet, knit, embroider, cross stitch, etc. (First generation off the farm, she was a college grad and college teacher during the day, often working at night as well since she was drama teacher/director for local theater. So not quite the norm of the crafty grandma. She did most of her needlework after she retired.) Most of her friends did more than just one type of needle craft - and were always making something. It was more unusual to find someone of her age who didn't do any needlecraft/yarnwork at all - and no one ever did any one up'smanship, though they would discuss what they were making. (afghan for grandchild was most common.) I was able to pick up crochet but just never got the hang of knitting - but I can still pick up crochet again with just a little futzing about.

I knew several girls in college (in the 80s) who would knit during classes (until some annoyed profs told them to stop) - but I never heard of anyone doing a crochet vs knitting rant. I did notice that while knitting seemed like the new hotness in that time, no one ever mentioned crochet.

But then I think quilting has had a renaissance in the last decade as well - and I can remember that only a few of the woman in grandmother's circle did that anymore. But ALL of them had quilts that their mothers or grandmother's made (my grandmother could point out her childhood dresses and where some of the other cloth in them had come from in the quilts). One reason it may have not been as popular - it requires a lot of cloth and the older quilts were made from actual clothing, as opposed to now, when quilters will buy cloth to use primarily for the craft. So it was seen as recycling back then, and now an art in itself.

Abbreviated version: this needcraft thing, perhaps it goes in cycles of popularity over time?
posted by batgrlHG at 3:52 PM on July 13, 2009


Crochet [...] is terrific for ornamental items

You might think this ray gun is only ornamental, but when you're shot & begin to unravel, don't complain to me.
posted by morganw at 3:52 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


For those thinking, aw, I bet Batgrl has some nice afghans that her grandmother made her - I do, but remember it was the 70s with the 70s color schemes. So I have a red, white and blue one - yay bicentenial of 76 - and an orange and white one - go UT. The UT one my mom has - but it was her school, after all. Could be worse - could have been orange, yellow, and avocado green.
posted by batgrlHG at 3:58 PM on July 13, 2009


Oh god, the constant fighting between my mother and I finally makes sense. (I knit, she crochets. I tried to crochet using her left-handed book but I've forgotten it all now.)
posted by sperose at 4:08 PM on July 13, 2009


I did notice that while knitting seemed like the new hotness in that time, no one ever mentioned crochet.

One of the things I tried to find out when researching this thread was, which is more popular, crochet or knitting? There are no relevant statistics that I could find. All I can say is that there seems to be a dearth of crochet magazines out there compared to knitting magazines. And whenever I do see a crochet magazine at a bookstore and flip through it, it's awful. Doilies and cosies and elaborately lace-edged tablecloths, and maybe a few ugly wearable items or afghans. Where are the good crochet patterns? Their lack makes me think either there must not be the same following for crochet as there is for knitting.
posted by orange swan at 4:24 PM on July 13, 2009


For those of you asking if the video was serious: you need to turn up your irony detector. It's located just below your humor damper.

I guess the problem I had with the video and not realizing it was a fakeout was the framing in the OP. “Wooly Bullies” [sic], a documentary, explores the animus between the Needles and the Hooks. This was surrounded by links of examples of online flameouts by knitters confronted by the topic of crocheting. Unless one clicks in the "more info" link at the YouTube site itself, there is no mention that this is not an actual documentary.

I have a sense of humor. But I was misled into seeing this piece as fact by the post.
posted by hippybear at 4:37 PM on July 13, 2009


I love to knit. I cannot crochet to save my life. Sure, I can crochet most edges around my knitting but I cannot seem to grasp crochet as a separate entity. I am the lone knitter in my Stitch and Bitch group and they have all tried to teach me. I would love to be better at it, I just can't seem to do it.

I work at a fiber shop and the reason we're more knit-friendly than crochet-friendly is because the crochet items just don't sell. We put all our crochet mags on sale (60% off) and we still haven't sold a single one. Most crochet hooks we sell are to knitters and I can't remember the last time we sold any crochet thread. But once in a while some crochet fanatic will march in and scream her head off because we don't carry a certain book she wants and claim we're anti-crocheting. I just answer that I don't hate crochet, some of my best friends are crocheters.
posted by MaritaCov at 5:00 PM on July 13, 2009


Beat you to it, lysdexic.
posted by orange swan at 3:39 PM on July 13 [+] [!]

ha! of course you did! :)

posted by lysdexic at 6:40 PM on July 13, 2009


Their lack makes me think either there must not be the same following for crochet as there is for knitting.

Whoops, that should read, "either there isn't the following for crochet as there is for knitting, or it really is less versatile."
posted by orange swan at 6:50 PM on July 13, 2009


Well the thing I was always told (by grandmother and crafting friends, no idea if it holds true outside there) was that crochet was great for using up scraps. So there were tons of ways to crochet leftover yarn into squares, and then make the squares into a sort of quilt. Or you'd take the leftover yarn from various projects or sales and using a second strand of yarn in a solid color - so you'd crochet two strings of yarn at the same time - I did a bedspread this way once. (Way too thick and heavy, probably not the best idea - might be better for rugs.) Knitting was presented to me as a walways used for of creating a whole project - I can't remember any scrap yarn uses with the knitting that I tried to learn.

But like I said, that may just have been the group of folks I was with. People probably share many more uses of knitting besides just potholders - I never graduated from the Learn to Knit projects myself. And there are far more creative projects now than in the 70s. Or maybe just better access to them via the internet, hard to say.

Since this is often such a "friends and relatives learning from each other" type of thing I bet it's extremely hard to track. I know people working on quilting history have had to rely on a lot of oral history, took a lot of digging for info.
posted by batgrlHG at 7:27 PM on July 13, 2009


I bet Batgrl has some nice afghans that her grandmother made her - I do, but remember it was the 70s with the 70s color schemes.

I can relate. I have several 70s-era afghans (pillow shams and pot holders too) that I still use occasionally. They all have offensive color combinations. The worst one, a rust/blue/white concoction inherited from my husband's grandma, is a baby afghan, for chrissakes. No wonder all the cousins from my husband's generation are weird and dysfunctional. ;)

But you know what? Most of the people I know who are fellow children of the 70s love hideous afghans! I have never failed to get a wistful smile, or a knowing laugh, or a nostalgic story of surviving bad interior decorating (e.g. "I had one with that same pattern and color when I was a kid. It matched our wall paper!") from people who spot one of the afghans draped across the back of my couch.

Maybe they don't love them enough to want one in their own homes, mind you, but they love seeing them in mine.
posted by amyms at 9:02 PM on July 13, 2009


Hey, granny squares can't be all that bad...
posted by echolalia67 at 9:25 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


The in-laws crochet. I have huge crocheted afghans as wedding presents. They are actually fairly fascinated by the two stick technique but shake their heads at teh crazy. They seem somewhat relieved when I switch to the single stick technique, but mistrustful that I willingly go back and forth between the two.

My family is definitely of the trystitchual sort & I've inherited knitting needles, crochet hooks, tatting bobbins, upholstery needles, quilting squares, etc, etc, etc, typically all mixed into the same collections. By the time I wanted to learn tatting, the people who could have taught me couldn't remember how to do it. I learned to knit from my mom (who now spends most of her time quilting, though to be fair, the in-law people are also quilters, but I'm not so much). A good friend of mine from college taught me to crochet and I learned it around the time her grandmother died & she kept talking about how her grandmother crocheted, & I said I'd like to learn, so she taught me. I credit her grandmother for my learning to crochet. :)

I thought I was an original in my family, but it turns out the spinning thing is actually an oldest daughter tradition amongst my paternal cousins. My grandmother apparently had a spinning wheel, but despite inheriting the coal burning stove & hyuge milk container thing, it never turned up so who really knows?

And now I have to go back to the Mystical Creations Yarn Epic Thread because OMG, that's just... just... wow.
posted by susanbeeswax at 11:45 PM on July 13, 2009


Sidetrack: Is the title "When in Doubt, Fake Die" supposed to be a play on words, or intentionally awkward? (It's not wholly off-topic. The post itself is interesting enough, about a second faked death -or "fake die"- in the knitting community.)

The phenomenon is usually referred to as "pseuicide" and it's distressingly common in fannish circles. Didn't realize that also extended to the fiber arts fans, but I guess anything goes.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:14 AM on July 14, 2009


I sew. I suspect this is completely uncool.

But I have KICKASS Halloween costumes and my friends like it when I do their mending.
posted by little e at 1:39 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well the thing I was always told (by grandmother and crafting friends, no idea if it holds true outside there) was that crochet was great for using up scraps. So there were tons of ways to crochet leftover yarn into squares, and then make the squares into a sort of quilt. Or you'd take the leftover yarn from various projects or sales and using a second strand of yarn in a solid color - so you'd crochet two strings of yarn at the same time - I did a bedspread this way once. (Way too thick and heavy, probably not the best idea - might be better for rugs.) Knitting was presented to me as a walways used for of creating a whole project - I can't remember any scrap yarn uses with the knitting that I tried to learn.

There's an older gentleman in our knitting circle who uses circle looms to knit the scraps into hats and scarves. He's made some eye-popping combinations and they are always snatched up.

There's also the Square Circle, where you can make a square any way you like.

I sew. I suspect this is completely uncool.

But I have KICKASS Halloween costumes and my friends like it when I do their mending.


sis? is that you? :)
posted by lysdexic at 2:00 AM on July 14, 2009


Unless one clicks in the "more info" link at the YouTube site itself, there is no mention that this is not an actual documentary.

I have a sense of humor. But I was misled into seeing this piece as fact by the post.


Ah. Does that mean we were knit-rolled?
posted by lysdexic at 4:15 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Knitting was presented to me as a walways used for of creating a whole project - I can't remember any scrap yarn uses with the knitting that I tried to learn.

Seems like it's all in the way it was presented to you, then. I often make items out of odds and ends of yarn — children's clothes are great for that. There's no reason why knitted items can't be made with lots of different colours of yarn.
posted by orange swan at 4:51 AM on July 14, 2009


Two of my favourite possessions are the afghan my grandmother crocheted for me in avocado green, burntish orange/taupe and cream, and the huge oval rug my great aunt made for me, possibly crocheted, but I'm not sure, out of random polyester yarns. The damned thing is indestructible, and I love it. Both of them remind me of long dead people I adored on a daily basis, and that they loved me.

Can't buy that in any store.
posted by QIbHom at 6:37 AM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I sew. I suspect this is completely uncool.

Actually, I've started seeing signs of sewing being the next big thing (my "evidence" for this is confined largely to the fact that I'm starting to see more sewing books and less knitting books in Barnes & Noble, and some of those sewing books are by the same authors and along the same themes as some of the knitting books).

I'm actually also considering getting a sewing machine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:53 AM on July 14, 2009


Once upon a time, I asked an old-lady friend to teach me to knit. She insisted, instead, to teach me crochet. I kind of enjoy it, but never saw anything to do that motivated me to finish a project, so I haven't done it in years.

This friend was totally hardcore, so hardcore, nearly everyone else is just a total piker. Seriously. She not only knit and crocheted, she also spun her own yarn. Oh, and sheared her own sheep, too! Oh, and she also designed and wove on a pair of large looms. To be fair, she didn't build the looms herself, so maybe someone out there is even more hardcore. But you have to give her lots of extra credit, because she was still caring for her flock in her late 70's. She was an incredible woman.
posted by Goofyy at 7:29 AM on July 14, 2009


I'm actually also considering getting a sewing machine.

Just do it! Even if you never make any clothes, and just use it to make your own curtains (easy to do, since they are just large rectangles) and do your own mending and minor alterations, it will more than pay for itself.
posted by orange swan at 8:06 AM on July 14, 2009


You knit what?

Sadly, no longer updated.
posted by lysdexic at 3:30 PM on July 13 [+] [!]


Yeah. Have to disagree on that -- not because they mocked a pattern someone did in one of my books but because they made personal attacks on other designers' children. Not cool. It was funny for a while and then it just got nasty.

Can't believe no one's brought up the Sharks v. Jets crochet/knit video that was done with Debbie Stoller ages ago, or the quote when Kim Werker interviewed Joss Whedon and he said knitters and crocheters are like vampires and werewolves...!

orange swan, the company I work for (editing a knitting mag) has a new crochet mag that's pretty awesome, and of course Interweave Crochet is the best one American-wise, in my opinion. Designers to check out -- Amy O'Neill Houck, Robyn Chachula, Julie Holetz, Doris Chan, (the shop at) Crochet Insider, Art of Crochet..... those are some of my crochet faves, anyway.

I'll refrain from knit linking since it's too tempting to link to my own patterns! ;)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:34 PM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


On the uncoolness - nope, you'll find there are a lot of folks who not only consider the ability to sew very cool, but also have a lot of respect for the art/craft/skill (never quite know how to categorize it, so I consider it all three). Besides being very useful and practical it's also a great outlet for many creative ideas. And thanks to the blogs and Flickr you can find lots of other folks with the same interest, and get great ideas from things that they post. Unlike some other types of arts, needlecraft is a place where people like to freely share ideas and advice, and only a very few get bent out of shape if you make something like theirs to give as a gift. (Now if you go sell the stuff I'm sure it's different.)

"Most of the people I know who are fellow children of the 70s love hideous afghans!"

Heh, someday when we get a real couch I'm thinking I'll bring that red, white and blue afghan out! But er, not next to the orange and white one, that might be a bit much!

"Seems like it's all in the way it was presented to you, then. I often make items out of odds and ends of yarn — children's clothes are great for that. There's no reason why knitted items can't be made with lots of different colours of yarn."

I agree - because I think the last thing you'd want to present to a beginner would be something where you'd have to change off colors immediately, and so all the knitting I did was with single colors, 1 ball of yarn. I just never did see any booklets about it - and I have a couple of crochet booklets (you know, the 6-8 page things full of patterns, never know what to call em) that I bought in the 80s about using up scrap yarn. But this was just before the many knitting books were published and became easier to find - and I haven't looked lately for fear I'll get back into it (I already have a lot of crafts to finish at the moment and am trying not to sidetrack myself with new projects!).
posted by batgrlHG at 3:08 PM on July 14, 2009


Have you spent the last 20 years held captive in the basement of someone who couldn't seem to learn to knit competently or to choose flattering yarns and styles but kept making you things anyway?

Not the last 20 years, but my whole childhood, for sure. It was all knitted balaclavas and ill-fitting shawl collar sweaters.

I take the point about how hard it is to buy a real woolen scarf though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:42 AM on July 15, 2009


Not that I'm concerned about being uncool. I've got a stash of patterns from the 60s and 70s from my grandmother (who made every garment my mom and uncles wore) and if I can find a respectable fabric store I plan to be sporting fantastically out of fashion mod dresses and bell bottoms this fall.

I don't really want to get into the godawful things I actually wore in public back when I wasn't very good at sewing but proud of my accomplishments.
posted by little e at 2:11 AM on July 15, 2009


Crochet Coral Reef (TED)

Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane

One can, of course, knit these as well, but I guess crochet is easier. I got some yarn and a hook this weekend to make one of these this summer. I can chain stitch already but I haven't gotten the single crochet down yet.
posted by wobh at 3:56 AM on July 15, 2009


Not the last 20 years, but my whole childhood, for sure. It was all knitted balaclavas and ill-fitting shawl collar sweaters.

Ah. Get to know a good knitter who has good taste, and you'll soon see the light.

I know the bad knitting is out there. A manager at a company I used to work at (someone I only "knew" by sight, as it was a large company) had a collection of godawful handknitted sweaters. They were very well-made and the patterns weren't too bad, but the yarn selections sucked. Nasty acrylics in ugly colour combinations. He was otherwise a well-dressed man, so I had to give him credit that though he probably knew better he was unflinchingly wearing those sweaters for the sake of the knitter, whomever she was.

A cousin of mine is a very poor knitter. I don't know what's worse, her technique or her taste, but she doesn't seem to have a clue that either of them are lacking in any respect. Some years ago she gave a then-boyfriend of hers a scarf for Christmas. It was six feet long, and made of 12" blocks of different colours: orange, purple, green, blue, red, and yellow, all in primary shades. It was garter stitch so the colour changes all "showed". She'd continually dropped and picked up stitches so the width was... variable. I just can't understand why my cousin could ever have thought a grown man would willingly wear such a thing. Her poor boyfriend tried to receive this montrosity graciously but he never wore it. My cousin was furious. It was a beautiful scarf! How could he not like it! When they broke up in the spring she got custody of the scarf, and she still wears it. I have to shade my eyes every time I see her in it lest I get retina burn.
posted by orange swan at 5:16 AM on July 15, 2009


As a crappy knitter who picks up the needles about twice a year to start and never finish a new project, I refuse to learn to crochet. I own crochet hooks, I've been tutored in the art of the "granny square" and I just can't see the appeal. Plus, I'm just bitter from all the patterns I see that turn out to be crochet patterns instead of knitting patterns. Hell with that. Needles forever!!
posted by threeturtles at 12:04 PM on July 15, 2009


a friend of mine taught me to crochet a few years ago (this friend is one of these hardcore people who spin their own fiber and crochet crazy-large doily tablecloths and knit complicated sweaters). i find it a great fidget thing - i mostly just crochet granny squares and then eventually join them together when i have a crapload of them.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:25 PM on July 15, 2009


oh, the thing i love about granny squares is they're small enough that i can knock one or more off in an evening. so i don't get that "i've been working on this for three months and it's still not done" experience which i find unmotivating.

granny squares, however, are not a basis for clothing. DO NOT DRESS YOUR CHILDREN IN GRANNY SQUARE BASED ARTICLES OF CLOTHING.

most of the time, i use cheap acrylic, because i like blankets that can take serious abuse (baby blankets, for instance, i expect to be puked on, shat on, and dragged on the ground). i did have some fabulous yarn made from silk and alpaca that i used to make a warm winter hat for my girlfriend (she is allergic to wool. even babysoft. even with extra washing to get all the stuff out. there was experimentation. it all failed.)
posted by rmd1023 at 7:28 PM on July 15, 2009


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