Crochet: fewer tools, less time and great designs

Every day at the store, we meet folks who are on the hunt for a good crochet pattern. They've become hooked (pun intended) on the speed of crochet, its finished look and the idea that it's a bit easier to make your own designs once you get the hang of it. Our beginner crochet classes have become very popular and our instructors and staff are helping us put together recommendations for crochet designers that they like.

Jamie, a short sleeve crochet vest by Canadian designer, Vicky Chan.

Diane, who teaches a number of our crochet classes, came in to the store recently wearing a beautiful crocheted vest, in a design called "Jamie". She found a Canadian crochet designer through Ravelry and over the course of a weekend, finished a crocheted vest. (Yes, you heard that right. A weekend.) Diane said that she's become a fan of Vicky Chan and Vicky's way of making her crochet designs easy to follow and understand. In fact, we liked this design so much we decided it would make a great intermediate crochet workshop. Want to learn how to read charts and have a great new garment in your wardrobe? Sign up!

I contacted Vicky to ask her a few questions about her designs and her process. Vicky, like many of us, learned to crochet from a family member. Vicky designs both crocheted and knitted garments (and has a few that are a combination of the two).

I asked her what she likes particularly about crochet (as opposed to knitting) and she raised some very good points: "I like crochet because working with lace is faster and easier, and I don’t have to worry about dropping stitches or using lifelines. Also, working in the round is simple and does not require special technique, such as magic loop."

I wondered about the complexity of designing in crochet and asked Vicky, "is it easier or more difficult (or the same) to put a crochet design down on paper (as opposed to a knitted design)?"

Vicky: "Designing wise, the effort required for knitting and crochet patterns is pretty much the same for me. However, it’s definitely more labour intensive when it comes to writing up a crochet design as both the written and charted instructions are more elaborate."

Cynthia: "What inspired you to take your designs and put them into patterns (and share them with the world)?"

Vicky: "Having trouble finding crochet patterns written in English, I decided to try my hand at designing my own after crocheting several garments following Japanese patterns. Ravelry also has played an important role, it has provided an easy conduit for me to publish my patterns as an independent designer."

Cynthia: "Do you have crochet books or references that you would recommend as a “go to” for our crochet aficionados?"

Vicky: "Unfortunately, I don’t have any English crochet books or references that I can recommend as I find them difficult to come by as well. However, I do have couple of good Japanese books to recommend: Continuous Crochet Motif 60 - Japanese Craft Book and Japanese craft book " Crochet Patterns Book 300"#1751."

Cynthia: "I read on your blog that you like the Clover locking stitch markers. Us too! Are there other tools that you find particularly important for crochet projects?"

Vicky: "Another tool I often use is my measuring tape. It’s as indispensable as the hooks for me. (I guess another reason I like about crochet is that I don’t need as many tools as for knitting.)"

Cynthia: "I notice your designs have “people” names. What are the inspirations behind the names?"

Vicky: "My patterns are named after the wonderful women and girls in my family, with the exceptions of Jordan (name of my son), Arianne (variant of Arianna) and Ava (variant of Ada). It’s my way of celebrating the girl power in my clan. :-)"

Cynthia: "Do you do all of your own photography? (It’s really lovely)."

Vicky: "Yes, I do all my own photography. (Thanks!)"

Have you got a favourite crochet designer or book/pattern/tool? Post a comment on the blog and tell us about why you crochet, who you recommend and your tips and tricks.