The Radioactive Green Circle of Destiny

I was messing around last night with a new project, a crochet project, and I realized something that, although it won't really change my life, may change the lives of those of you who avoid crochet forever:

Crocheting is not like knitting.

As you may or may not know, I am a long-time crocheter. I learned back when I was about 5 or 6, around the same time I learned knitting, from my grandmother (though my mother does neither), but for some reason I took to crochet much more readily than knitting. Long story short - I crocheted exclusively for a long time and many a relative's home is decorated (or hiding, as the case may be) the assorted doilies, afghans, and coasters of my youth.

Ah, crochet.

So anyway, I sat down to start this new crochet project last night, but I haven't done it in quite some time. Six months maybe? A year? When I first started to have a go with it I felt clumsy, uncoordinated, all thumbs (or none maybe). I felt like a beginner. I am normally a lightning-fast crocheter. Why was this so hard?

My knitting technique was polluting my crochet technique.

Yes, polluting people! And this is where the life-changing aspect of this post comes in: if you are a knitter who has, upon trying to learn how to crochet (whether it be for a simple edging or something grander), found it really unwieldy and hard to do you might be holding the yarn wrong.

This is how I hold the yarn when I knit (click to make bigger):

When I knit I weave the yarn over and under my fingers to provide tension. You can see what I mean, more or less (I hope) in the group of three shots. When I started working on the crochet last night, I wove the yarn over and under my fingers in exactly the same way, and experienced confusion. That's because this is how I hold the yarn to crochet:

In this second series of approximately equivalent shots you can see the placement of the yarn is not woven about the hand at all. In fact, aside from travelling over the index finger, it lies entirely on the bottom (palm) side of my hand. And what's more, the index finger is not doing what it does (for me) in knitting - it is actually holding on to the little crocheted piece and providing no tensioning at all. The tension is actually being provided by my pinkie, crooked over the yarn just so. The middle finger does most of the manipulation of the yarn. (I "lift" the yarn to loop it over the hook - at this point in the stitch(es) the hook is stationary. I also use the middle finger to manipulate the yarn in knitting - go figure.) The ring finger just follows suit, since it's fairly impossible to keep your ring finger straight while the pinkie and middle finger are crooked just so.

A consequence of the differing actions of the fingers causes my hands to tire in different ways when either crocheting or knitting. When crocheting, I find that my left hand gets fatigued first, a result of the odd position of the fingers and the fact that I am holding the crocheted fabric with that hand. When knitting, I kind that my right hand tires first, as I find I have a much tigher grip on that needle than the other because that is the one doing all the moving, plus the fingers of my left hand are nice and stretched out and relaxed. Equal opportunity crafting.

So there you have it. Mystery solved.

Now I ask you dual-crafters out there: does your crochet technique differ from your knitting technique? And to those of you who have tried crocheting and hated it because of the awkwardness of it: would you be willing to give it another shot armed with the knowledge of the Radioactive Green Circle of Destiny?

(Note: The Radioactive Green Circle of Destiny is not part of the project I started last night. The yarn merely sprung into action when no other yarn would step forward to demonstrate the mind-bending difference between knitting and crochet. The yarn has retired back to the stash, where it will slumber until it is called upon to once again save the world with its radioactive super powers.)


At 5:51 AM, Blogger The_Add_Knitter said...

My only crocheting experience is putting a crocheted edge on an edge, so my knowledge is limited...but I can tell you that I am one of those knitters that for whatever reason doesn't have the mental space to take on another craft!

At 6:36 AM, Blogger Opal said...

My crocheting technique differs greatly from my knitting technique. I crochet left-handed and I knit right-handed. I hold my yarn in different hands and everything. My hands don't seem to really care and they don't tire out at different rates.


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