Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Crochet Sling Bag

I first learnt to crochet many years ago after my kids were born. It wasn't out of boredom. I really wanted to crochet. When I was still in primary school, one of my sisters, possibly Elaine showed me how to chain stitch. I remembered it was during a period when my older sisters and cousins would craft with great passion - making heaps of yo-yos. I was only tasked with menial tasks like cutting out circles. During a particular period, I saw my sisters crochet with raffia. But all I learnt then was chain stitches. Anyway, my sisters soon stopped crafting and I used their abandoned crochet hook to fool around with raffia even though all I knew was chain stitches. It would exasperate my mother because she would say the crochet hook was a waste of money and I was also wasting her raffia.

During the period when my kids were little, I had small pockets of free time and I used the time to learn to crochet using books borrowed from the library. I'm guessing the first book I learnt from uses American English crochet terms because I do single crochet. In British English crochet terms there is no single crochet. Here's a comparison if you're interested.

The thing is I didn't know that. I didn't know there is a US and a UK crochet terms and what happened later really frustrated me. After I knew how to crochet the basic stitches, I became interested in making items from very old crochet patterns. For some patterns, I simply could not get it right. What I made never looked like what it was supposed to in the pictures. Also, I started to get confused about the stitches as there were so many other stitches to learn. I thought I had learnt all the 6 basic stitches required. The frustration and taking care of my kids eventually led to my stopping crocheting altogether. I don't remember when it happened but one day I finally discovered the missing link - UK and US crochet terms. Of course it finally made sense then and I started making crochet bags. For some reasons which I can't recall now, I had the habit of not completing the bags. I did complete around 5 crochet bags which are hung here and there in my home but I had a few in storage in a work-in-progress stage. It's quite possible my interest in fabric bag making hijacked my progress in crochet bags.

I found these in a forgotten container while clearing out junk recently. Looking at it I can see right away I had made a mistake in the pink yarn. It is thinner than the maroon yarn so the end result is the bag tapers at the bottom. A rookie mistake. Apart from that the bag looks in good shape.

This morning I decided I would finish the crochet bag. I had to redo the handle as it was too short. I wanted to carry the bag cross body. I thought about putting in a lining but the entire bag is constructed in single crochet so it's not holey. (I'm always going to use US crochet terms because it's in my DNA now)

To attach the handles, I just threaded the yarn through a needle and sewed whip stitches.

As for the closure, I used a covered button. It fitted perfectly.

I haven't actively crocheted for a while so I wondered if I still knew all the moves. It turned out I do. Once the crochet hook is in my hands, I just knew what to do. How to hold the thread and the hook. It's programmed in my brains. Which isn't an entirely good thing because as I grow older, I become more conscious of how I use my hands. I'm very wary of overusing them or simply creating bad habits. During the period when I was suffering from my muscle pain, there was one specific muscle starting from the neck which affected my elbow, wrist and hands. I had tenderness and numbness issue in these areas for a long time. Right now I no longer suffer these symptoms but the thought of them returning is frightening. That is why I worry about how I should hold the crochet hook.

If I wish to crochet for a long period, I think I need to retrain myself to hold the crochet hook differently.

Right now, I hold my hook like I hold a cleaver. See my pinkie is curled over the hook? Over a long period of time, I foresee I will suffer some problems with my pinkie. I think the best way is for my last 2  fingers to have as little contact with the the hook as possible.

I know most people say there are no right or wrong ways to hold a crochet hook. But to me, this is not a good way.

Today I tried holding the crochet hook like a pencil. I am able to crochet this way. I think this way is less straining because it's a more natural pose and thus there's less strain. Also the parts of my fingers touching the crochet hook are trained and built to hold stuff.

I really can't think of any other better way to hold the hook. Anyway, just to hold the hook the pencil way, I have to consciously tell myself to do it. Otherwise I'll just revert to the cleaver way.

It's strange how I am able to take to crochet much more easily than knitting. My guess is knitting requires 2 hands much more than crochet. My left hand is quite useless. Except when typing on a keyboard like right now. I wonder if most knitters also crochet. Although they're both yarn related, the techniques used are quite different.


Connie Mitan said...

I taught myself how to crochet, as well. I hold my hook differently than both of your pictures. I don't knit, but I suppose the way I hold the crochet hook is similar to holding a knitting needle - it is usually under my hand, not like a pencil or like a cleaver ;)

Good to know you've still got it in ya - you probably need a break from sewing bags, anyhow, right? You already hit 100...

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