Great art, here we come! Not mine, but a tribute work: to the great master of colour, Wassily Kandinsky. I have long wanted to crotchet this,
Kandinsky’s ‘Colour Study: Squares with Concentric Circles (1913)’, as it just looks, well, so crochetable. In the same way that Bridget Riley looks so knittable, and Mondrian looks like a really ace duvet cover… and I may do these as well at some point.
In case you think I’m horribly utilitarian about great art, (re-)making pieces just provides opportunity to stare at them and get to know and love them over time to have them around the house. And to have to engage with them so deeply as to remake them, in the same way that young composers used to copy out great works of music to tread in the footsteps of giants, is a wonderful teacher. I’m never going to be any artist but I love to devote myself to colour and pattern. And to learn from the master(s) must be the best way, to get both the principles and the specifics under your skin. I’ve read about colour wheels and primary/secondary colours and all that, but I still somehow doubt my taste and wonder how to move forwards. (When I selected my yarn last week, a very wise woman in the Local Yarn Shop told me that we are always more critical of our own work and my colour choices looked great to her.)
Not sure whether it will be a wall hanging, a cushion cover, or part of a large blanket, but anyway it was apparently the time to start: this project kind of crept up on me. I had worked to finish off most other medium-sized projects I’d had sitting around, and found I was studying the colours of the picture, making decisions to use simple acrylic due to the wide choice of colours, stocking up on yarn, fetching a basket to dump the balls in, and doing a practice square, before I’d actually decided to, and so was ready to start anyway. I keep telling myself if I don’t like the way one of the squares turns out, like for instance the mauve is just wrong, I can turn that one into a charity blanket square (with extra rounds around the edge) and do another one to replace it. I’m going to make charity blanket squares anyway, so I might as well have a plan! This stops me being paralysed with (in)decision-making.
And I have learnt some things: my trial square (in random sunburst colours) was too big and baggy, so I’ve switched back to my usual 4mm hook from the 4.5mm I’ve been experimenting with (as a website said you can use a fatter hook than you would needles for the same wool thickness), AND I’ve checked my way of doing trebles. Confession: I have two ways of doing trebles [UK terminology throughout; Americans call this a dc]. And one of them is wrong. And it’s the one I’ve generally done the most.
Correct treble: yarn over, stick hook in, yarn over, pull through to give three loops on hook.
[Incorrect addition: yarn over and pull through, like a chain one.]
Continue: yarn over and pull through two loops, yarn over and pull through two loops.
My way is fine enough and gives a consistent fabric with a rather lofty wound stitch; but if I’m going to follow a carefully graded pattern that slopes from dc through htr and tr to dtr and levels off the circle into a square, it has to be right as the pattern-maker intended. Not least because ‘my way’ leaves uncertainty as to what a half-treble would do; it can’t split the difference between ‘my’ treble and the normal dc, so won’t be smooth in the pattern. I had always thought that htr were a bit stupid and just a waste of wool because you yarn-over and then just whip the stitch off in two moves like a double; but actually they’re brill as they can vary/stretch in height between a treble and a double according to how much space there is and that makes them a master of disguise.
I looked back through old books, and no-one I could find told me to do a treble the way I was more used to (with the ‘chain’), even though I know I’ve also done it the textbook way at times and never been sure for years which is standard. Then I looked back at the blanket my nan made (see left), and it does look like she does it the same way as me, with the toweringy trebles. This made me feel not blame but oneness with a heritage, as I learnt from my nan as well as little booklets and this made me feel I really did learn from her. This would be why I feel the chainy-treble has dignity and a rightness of its own even though it’s not what any book / website I can find thinks. (If you also do trebles like this with the chain, I would be delighted to hear from you.) I would rather this than think I just taught myself wrong from a book Even though I would have been 6 or 7 probably when I did this, so not too bad going!
I had a sense of shame about it briefly, to admit to you that I who love and promote crochet have been Doing It Wrong, but somehow I don’t now, as it’s worked pretty well for years and just shows the versatility and resilience of the craft.