that’s about all they’re good for

I let Oscar play with my plastic set of crochet hooks while I tried to work on a project from my new Happy Hooker book. Clever boy set them up as track for his train which is about the most productive use for a crochet hook this house is going to see. I’m at best a novice crocheter but of course I jumped right into the deep end and tried to make one of Camilla’s wonderful creatures from the book. I thought it was going well at first but it just kept getting smaller and smaller and tighter and tighter. Is it supposed to take about 30 seconds per stitch? And are you supposed to be struggling and jamming to get the hook under the right loop? I don’t think crochet is for me. I am very proud of myself though, the book wasn’t hurled across the room but rather tucked away in a closed bookcase where it can’t ridicule me for a while. I think I may have my crafters rage syndrome under control.

37 thoughts on “that’s about all they’re good for

  1. connie says:

    Am so glad to read am not the ONLY person who can’t do crochet….I just tried again too, gave up and went back to knitting maybe in another 5 yrs I’ll try again.

  2. Heather says:

    You can do it! Do you knit? If you can get the hang of two needles with no hooks and manage thread tension, then you can get the hang of one needle with a hook. Make yourself just crochet a square until things are flowing for you. Get back on that saddle. Tough love.

  3. michelle says:

    It took me about 5 hours to figure ouut how to crochet and read the pattern for my first hat. After that I could do one in an hour or two. Give yourself a break and try something simple first. P.S. I can’t wait to try your patterns. I imagine they’ll take me 5 hours the first time, since I don’t sew much. 😉

  4. amanda says:

    crocheting in the round takes a little bit of time to get used to! when you’re making a creature, you do want your stitches to be somewhat tight because you don’t want your stuffing to fall out or show after you put the pieces together. i don’t have my copy of the happy hooker in front of me right now so i’m not sure what yarn and hook she recommends, but a G or F hook and worsted weight cheapo yarn (like Red Heart) usually works pretty good for my amigurumi.
    here’s a link to some amigurumi on my flickr.

  5. vegasandvenice says:

    Keep trying! With all of your creative talent you should be able to do it in your sleep with your hands tied behind your back. Umm wait, okay maybe not with your hands tied, but I am sure you get my gist.
    I am sure you don’t need my suggestion, but I thought just in case, that I would post it any way. I noticed that when I used a beautiful set of needles/ or a nice wooden hook and a good quality beautiful yarn that I love, the quality of my stitches and my learning curve increased drastically. Hope this helps somehow!
    Best Wishes.

  6. Anamaria says:

    I think whichever one you learn first (knitting or crochet) will always be the easiest. As for Camilla’s patterns, I think the faces and inner ears are crocheted in slip stitch, which is unusual and difficult to work with (I bet it was hard to wedge the hook in there!), but gives her creatures a unique woven look. You might want to try one of the amigurumi patterns floating around the net first–most of those are single crochet. Can’t wait to see what you hook up!

  7. Hayley says:

    I’ll make you a deal, Hillary – I’ll come over & teach you how to Zen crochet, and in a month or so you come over & teach me what to do with a newborn boy!

  8. Melody says:

    I know exactly what you mean about it “getting smaller and tighter” everyone thinks that I’m exaggerating, but by the time that I give up, I can’t even get the crochet hook to move.

  9. myra says:

    I hear ya on the struggle and hook jamming. Have you tried different hooks, because I have those plastic ones and I really hate them. The clover ones with comfort handles makes things a thousand times better.

  10. Lavanotes says:

    I’m gonna stand on the “I can’t crochet either” side of the fence with ya. I’ve tried it and gotten frustrated and am playing with knitting now which I found tons easier to learn. I haven’t abandoned the thought of crochet forever just for right now 😉 And good for you not hurtling books.

  11. MaryMR says:

    Don’t give up! I’m knitter who thought many times forget it. Take it slower and do just a square in some smooth yarn you LOVE, just to get the hang of it. Another thing that might help is learn half-doubles last cuz it’s the hardest one to get a looser guage with: do lots of singles, then doubles, then half-doubles.
    There are 2 things that make crochet get smaller: tight guage, which it sounds like you got and figuring out where and how to end of row turns (if it’s not in the round). On this one I recommend the method Melissa Leapman describes in her books (haven’t seen Stoller’s yet) or better yet, got to your LYS when a corcheter is there and have them demonstrate what to look for when finishing and beginning a row.
    Why should you not give up. My reason was that I LOVE how fast crochet is compared to knitting, once you get the hang of it, which is mostly just doing it for awhile. While I love my knitting, sometimes I just want to do something fast and pretty and crochet feels, at times, like a vacation from a normal job I love. Even if you like/love your job, you still need a vacation.
    Finally, I’ve lurking a while now on your blog and I just want to say you’re creations are *so* lovely and wee and, indeed, wonderful. Thank you for sharing them with us!

  12. KnitPastis says:

    That is a great book to have. I was just browsing through it at Barnes N Nobles the other day and noticed some really cool stuff in there of 70’s style. I just started knitting last year so once I get good at this, I might attempt crocheting again. Your Pointy Kitty is on my list to make soon! On my post the other day, I talked about your Pointy Kitty and told everyone to go check out your website on my blog.You make the cutest things!!

  13. Stephanie Cullison says:

    Thank god I’m not hte only knitter than can’t crochet! It seems like it should be so much simpler…but I have the same problem. I end up with the stitches too tiht and can’t get the hook through them! I am intrigues by the book though and may have to try again.

  14. Alex says:

    Here’s another knitter who cannot crochet… I tried it but it simply drives me mad – I get knotted in my head, hands, stomach… how are these patterns read?!
    Hope you’ll conquer that and show us some super cute stuff in the end!

  15. Lindsey says:

    I am at least an intermediate crocheter, and I found that pattern to be extremely hard to execute. So don’t be discouraged!
    If you have your heart set on amigurimi, there is a very easy and clear pattern to crochet a little doll in a great book called Kids’ Crochet. I made one in December, and it is adorable (I posted a pic of it on my blog a little while back)

  16. carly says:

    OMG! you have EXACTLY the same issues with crochet as me!! thank god I am not the only one… mine just gets tighter and smaller!!! I also got a copy of the new crochet book with every intension on making one of Camillas darlings and have really just set myself up for failure… i am going to read these comments now and see if some clever person has the answer 😀

  17. Claire says:

    I had a really hard time learning to crochet, which involved using my fingers to yank the yarn up and over the hook and it took ages plus my fingertips got sore. It took awhile but the trick was to trust the hook part to keep the yarn in place. Also use a very fat smooth yarn and start with a square! Another mistake I still make is not quite doing the first or last loop and the square gets narrower and narrower. If yours is getting tighter and tighter maybe just pull the loop up a bit more at each stitch. I wind the yarn around my pinky finger to control the tension.
    Now I love crochet so figuring it all out was worth it. If all those grannies can do it so can you!

  18. Roberta says:

    Just wanted to share my two cents if it’s helpful. My friend who learned to knit before crochet says her crocheting is always tight because when you knit you “work” the needles, but when you crochet you “work” the thread. (I think I have that right way around. I crochet, not knit.) And I agree having the yarn around your pinky helps with tension. I like the metal hooks, and started with washclothes.
    I echo the sentiment that your creations are lovely and inspiring. 🙂

  19. Casey says:

    Way back before I was a knitter, I used to crochet. Thoseskills all must have fled my brain, though, because I have been struggling to crochet around the edge of a tank top I knit. I thought it would take me 1/2 hour but three evenings later, I’m still working on it!

  20. robyn says:

    Just dropping in from Anny’s site…I love the look of your blog…reminds me of Mary Engelbreit or Joan Walsh Anglund. The picture of your little guy reminds me of my Elliot…always flopped on his tummy playing with something with wheels! Best Wishes…r

  21. Kym says:

    Ah, I’m so glad I’m not the only one stumped by crochet. I’m a pretty competent knitter, but crochet just… sucks. It’s confusing.
    I’m still determined to conquer it, but just not right now. 😛

  22. Jennifer says:

    I have taught myself so many things about knitting, sewing, and patchwork, but crochet gives me the biggest mental block in the world!! I can never get it. It is one of those things where I really really need to take a set of lessons, then I know it will come to me. So many crocheted things out there look like so much fun to make, but I just can’t get from point A to B on my own. I hear ya!

  23. Gisela says:

    he´s so cute! those little hands!
    I can’t crochet either, the truth is that i didn’t try hard yet… i wacth my mother and it seems so easy but when i try i just can’t figure it out.
    I made a pointy kitty from your free pattern and already add it to the pointy kitty group. thank you for the pattern!

  24. Sam says:

    I’ve tried crocheting, and it doesn’t work out for me either. My grandma tried to teach me, and said I seem to have invented my own stitch.. it looks okay, but after a little while it gets really tight and impossible. I’m definitely sticking to knitting.

  25. luckybeans says:

    (erm…i am actually quite chuffed to find you can’t crochet– very encouraging to novice crafters like myself, if you see what i mean).
    But keep at it! I am sure you will be brilliant as you are in everything else you undertake!

  26. melody says:

    Thought you might be interested that my mom has begun crocheting beautiful rugs again from 1/2″ torn strips of cotton fabric. She uses a metal hook my dad had a machinist friend of his make many years ago and she says this hook makes all the difference.

  27. scribblesnbits says:

    I also tried crocheting this weekend (efforts posted over on my blog), but I didn’t have a whole lot of luck. It took forever to get stitches where the yarn wasn’t wrapping around everything I had previously crocheted. I really wanted to learn, but I’m so frustrated I don’t know when I’ll bother trying again.

  28. anjo says:

    Smart kiddo! You never know, you may go back to the attempt of crochet. I just got my hands on my own HH copy last week so I hope to take the plunge soon (I’ve crocheted a lousy scarf a few years ago…not much else).
    Thanks so much for the kind comments on my wee bunny, H. Your littles ‘wees’ are very addictive to make, so as you can guess, I cannot wait for you pattern book to be finished!

  29. Ginny says:

    Hillary, you are once more a woman after my own heart. I took a knitting class a week ago, and I feel completely spastic. It’s as if I haven’t yet developed my fine motor skills. When someone asked me what my first project would be I said ‘a rectangle’!!! My knitting bag sits there, taunting me in the evenings. We’ll see how I do with my crafters’ rage!! Good luck…

  30. sooz says:

    Is it really awful and mean to say I am kind of glad you can’t do everything? Like Ginny I feel completely spastic with sticks in my hand. I’m trying to learn crochet, but gee it’s tough. I was so tortured by the crochet I had to leave my gorgeous Japanese crochet animal book at a friend’s house! Maybe next month…

  31. Melissa Peschar says:

    waaa! I live in Australia and i am dying to get my hands on that book! its very hard to find decent patterns for crochet.
    Im bias towards crochet because I love it. it is much quicker then knitting once you get the hang of it and you dont need to worrt about droped stitches. Iv tried to knit and I hate it! (im a bit of a cooky one, heehee) my point is you really should give crochet another go cuz it rocks 🙂

  32. k says:

    I have to comment here because I too bought the Happy Hooker and started, after a few practice swatches, on Camilla’s animals.
    TIght, yes. A long time to jam that hook in there? Oh yes. And to boot, there were some printing errors (colors for animals were reversed in the supply section, arms and legs were way too long if you followed the pattern exactly…)
    But I did persevere..and finish the bear. He’s not perfect..and I spent a lot of time ripping stitches out and trying again.
    Definitely not the smartest project to start with…but I was insistent. I ended up loving crochet but it was hard!!!!!!! (Just an aside..the entire animal is slip stitched so it is trickier than a lot of other patterns/stitches).

  33. Skeggjold says:

    Don’t get discouraged! I learned how to crochet originally and I know the basics but I still have a bit of a hard time with the amigurumi. I knit now, and I find that much easier, but just recently I took up the crochet hook again to make amigurumi and believe you me, it was no picnic.
    I tried one of those “easy” amigurumi patterns on the internet but I couldn’t figure it out. My stitches were too lose and it turned out weird. When I stuffed it there were huge holes and you could see the stuffing. That was probably about a year ago, I finally tried it again last night and it clicked.
    I’m sad that it took me this long to get back to crocheting amigurumi, because if I had just kept practicing I might have been able to start making amigurumi much sooner.
    So I’m sure you’ll get it, don’t get discouraged, just keep practicing, eventually tension etc. will come.

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