This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.
Electronic Highways

Warm up with cozy crafting

Published: November 4, 2009

As autumn turns to winter, it is a perfect time to embark on needlecraft projects. Afghans, hats, mittens, scarves and sweaters all chase the chill away and the end results make good holiday gifts.

Knitting has come into the spotlight in recent years, and for good reason—it’s supremely fun and a great excuse to get together and socialize with friends while everyone works on projects. Kate Jacobs’s The Friday Night Knitting Club seems to have catapulted knitting into the spotlight as an activity for modern, chic city dwellers.

Often overlooked is knitting’s single-hook cousin, crochet. Ideal for creating patterns that call for lace or a structured body, such as hats, bags, or three-dimensional shapes, crochet is an enjoyable craft you can master without an expensive investment. You will need a pattern, a hook, yarn and instructions on basic stitches.

Patterns are readily available in books you may purchase at craft stores, but there are also online patterns you may obtain for free. Free Patterns is a great starting place, as well as Crochet Pattern Central; take a look at this pattern for a ladies hat with flower appliqué, a classic crochet project. The Art of Crochet Blog is another interesting stopover for crocheters in search of tips and patterns; it is updated regularly with new projects. As well, Lion Brand Yarn and Red Heart Yarn, both mass producers of yarn frequently found in large craft stores, have a free pattern search on their sites.

For hooks and yarn, there are a multitude of shopping possibilities. For beginning crocheters, and those on a budget, large craft stores like JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels have huge yarn and hook selections at reasonable prices. Coupons appear weekly in their ads within the Sunday Buffalo News, so keep your eyes peeled. For more exotic projects, the Elmwood Yarn Shop on Hertel Avenue will meet your desire for a deeper variety of specialty yarns like mohair, alpaca and cashmere.

You have your tools…now what? There are many ways to learn how to crochet. Tap into the knowledge of family members and friends, wherein you can play a part in passing on timeless traditions. If you prefer a formal class, JoAnn Fabrics offers beginners crochet classes at its Amherst store. Those who like to learn on their own will find YouTube an excellent source of how-to crochet videos. Crochet Stitches and Technique also is a good source for those who have crocheted in the past and need to brush up on their stitches.

Finally, part of the joy of any type of craft is camaraderie with fellow stitchers. Try Ravelry for an online community of knitters and crocheters. Keep track of your projects, search their library of patterns and “meet” your fellow crochet lovers. And don’t miss Stitch ‘n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller, the modern manual for hip, contemporary crocheters.

Grab your hook and start with a scarf—you won’t be sorry.

Tiffany Walsh, Arts and Sciences Libraries