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Taking time to Design for myself

I have crocheted for almost 20 years now. I had never progressed from hats, scarves, and water bottle holders, small items, easily finished and started. These small items did not require patterns, or even combining colours. Easy to pick up and pack away.

This year, because of the time given to me by Covid, I decided to up my game. I love sweaters, and I hate patterns. I am rarely satisfied with the shape of the garment, it is not something I would wear, or it is made from yarn outside of my budget. So I decided to throw all my misgivings to the wolves and start crocheting.

My Inspiration is drawn from clothing and colour combinations I love, pieces I don't own but would love in my closet, smashed in with a good dose of dress up, or who I dream of being that week. Books and dreams are the typical catalyst of the majority of my designs with a healthy dose of learning new stitches. I have been using less expensive acrylic yarn to "practice" but also for the ease of washing and the knowledge that I didn't want a closetfull of "precious" sweaters. I am looking for sweaters I would wear, use, and work in. Easy to wash, even if I am woodworking. Basically the times I would typically reach for an old sweatshirt, but more stylish.

It has been an interesting transition from buying whatever was cheap (acrylic, and some occasional cotton), to learning how to spin natural fibres and a period of shunning acrylic. My journey back to mainly acrylic for my crochet has resulted in an appreciation of the softness and warmth it has (once its washed and the weird "starchy" stuff is out of it.) As well as the savings, which allow me to create the garments of my dreams in a budget friendly way.

I do want to go more in depth with what creating daily at this level, as well as the process has taught me. I have never had this much time to reflect, plan and reassess what I find to be important. Especially in designing clothes for myself. Each piece of clothing has become a story, a process, a solidified memory from the past. The increases and decreases are all a piece of a story I tell to myself knowing that I need to get from one measurement to another. Sometimes it is a quick increase as I am impatient with the story, sometimes a consistent slow measure with rows and rows slowly growing. Each time is different based on both the desired end product as well as my inner dialogue that day.

So far I have worked mainly with a number 4 worsted acrylic (Michaels loops and threads Impeccable, for the price, colour selection, yardage, and consistancy), playing with a few different stitches and hook sizes for drape (not that there is much at this thickness) speed, and definition. It has become a game, what I want the final product to both look like and say, both as the garment itself, as well as about me. It is a kind of therapy, unlocking different pieces of my past with each row and design. Playing with my memories and stories, working and measuring and planning, (though rarely on paper) for each finished piece. I typically have 2 or 3 WIP on the go, one ready for each time I need to stall, or reflect or plan the result. Or occassionally whether I need to frog a section I am unhappy with.

These are some of the bits I love about designing pattern free. It is more than just counting and following directions much to me, like a preplanned road trip. This is free form, this is bringing to life something that before now only existed in my dreams, or maybe in a stick drawing in my notebook. It is bliss.

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