Since taking up my new challenge of vintage crocheting I’ve learned hell of a lot. It’s sent me on a journey I really didn’t expect when I first started considering doing this, but I’m so glad I finally took a huge leap and threw myself in. So, for those of you, like me, who’ve never done crocheting before and are considering giving it a go, here’s the five main things I’ve learnt.
1. It’s not as hard as I thought!
Believing something is hard, and you won’t be able to do it, is probably the toughest thing to get over. It’s easier to just sit there thinking ‘nah, I’ll never get it right’ and so you don’t even try. This obviously relates to anything in life but it definitely was the case for me with crocheting. I’d wanted to give it a go for about 6 or 7 years but kept telling myself it would be way too challenging to get my head around. Well, what a surprise, it’s really not that hard at all!
My very first crochet garment (which you can see here) was the best choice to get started with. Yes, there were some tricky parts but just accepting that and spending time figuring each part out as I went along allowed me to finally complete something. I was so chuffed with myself that I’d actually done it and that it didn’t turn out as a big pile of poo! This really gave me the confidence to just throw myself in at the deep end with my next project.
My goal with all of this was to be able to crochet my own jumpers. Knitwear is the main 1930s based thing that’s missing from my wardrobe and is vital for the winter. Okay, so the jumper I’m currently working on has short sleeves (as you can see above) but I wanted to try something that looked relatively easy before tackling long sleeves. And I have to say, this is the absolute perfect choice for anyone who wants to try a jumper for the first time. I’ve found it fairly easy to do, despite a few mishaps along the way!
2. Figuring out what yarn and hook to use is the hardest part
With 1930s patterns trying to work out what yarn and hook you’re supposed to use, and how many balls of yarn you need, is a bit of an insane mind field. This may be the case for other decades too, but as I’m solely concentrating on the 1930s, this is my only reference.
The pattern for the above jumper suggests Clark’s O.N.T. or J&P Coats Pearl Cotton, size 5, 15 balls. Both of these yarns are now obsolete and there is very little info about them anywhere. It also states to use a Milward’s steel crochet hook No. 2 which sounds straight forward enough, but this is an American pattern. So, after copious amounts of research, I now know that in America during the 1930s this would’ve been a size 2.25mm hook, not the 2mm Milward steel hooks used in the UK today. Yep, like I say, insane!
I’ve added a handy chart below of all the different Milward steel hook sizes for anyone else who may come across this issue, stating the Milward size and the equivalent metric size.
|Milward Size (1930s)||Metric Size|
When it came to choosing my yarn I took the pattern into the wool shop where my parents live, as one of the ladies who works there is a friend of my mum and I knew she’d be able to give me some advice. Her first reaction was, “I have no idea!”. That didn’t fill me with much hope. However, after looking at the photo and reading a bit of the pattern she advised that a 4 ply cotton would probably work. There were very few colours available in the shop of this, so I chose the prettiest, a bright pink. I ended up buying waaaaayyyy too much but at least I can use it for something else.
I’ve since learned loads about crochet yarns and threads and I’ve found out about the different crochet cotton sizes as used in America. It’s been hard because the information in the UK about this is very, very limited. Anyway, after ordering several different sizes online, and being given a box of various sized vintage Coats crochet balls, I now know that the 4 ply I’m using is slightly thicker than a size 5 thread as mentioned in the pattern. It doesn’t matter though as I’m using a 2.5mm hook, slightly larger than the No.2 hook, so the tension is relatively the same.
3. It’s hell of a lot easier to correct mistakes than in sewing
So, I’m now at the stage where I’ve finished the back of the jumper. It’s taken me about 5 weeks to get to this stage, so not bad going for a beginner. It would’ve been quicker but I had to redo about 8 rows of the main section, not once, but twice! I kept getting the end turning part wrong each time, so ripped it back to just the ribbing section and blindly started again. I did the same 8 rows for a second time WITHOUT RE-READING THE PATTERN!!!! DOH! Yep, I got it wrong again and had to rip it all back once again. This time I made sure I checked the pattern each time I got to the end of a row to make sure I got it right.
Annoying as it was, it did make me realise just how easy it is to correct any mistakes. Yes, it’s frustrating to get rid of all the work you’ve already done, but it’s a damn sight easier than sewing. I hate unpicking! Seriously, with a huge passion! I would rather start all over again with sewing than to have to go back and unpick several sections just to correct something I done earlier. Crocheting is much, much easier so I don’t get so frustrated with it.
4. It’s Seriously Addictive!
Oh hell yes, it’s beyond addictive! I take it everywhere with me and do most of it during my lunch break at work. If I haven’t done any during the course of 24 hours I start getting twitchy and really want to find just five minutes to do some.
It’s so easy to just pick up, do a few stitches and put it down again. I could never do that with sewing. I’d have to lug my entire sewing box and machine with me if i wanted to do it at work! My colleagues think I’m weird enough, I don’t need to give them another reason.
When I don’t have five minutes to spare, or I don’t have my crocheting with me, I spend an awful lot of time thinking about it. Now that I know I can actually do it, and achieve something worthwhile, I want to crochet everything! As it’s just turned to Autumn here in the UK, jumpers will definitely be my priority and I’ve already decided on my next three projects. In no particular order these are as follows (click the image to see more):
5. It’s given me confidence to want to try other crafts
As a result of me being totally blasé about crocheting, and just diving in at the deep end, it’s actually given me quite a bit of confidence to tackle other crafts. Embroidery doesn’t seem nearly as daunting as it did and I’ve even managed to pick up a couple of hoops at a vintage fair. I’ve ordered some threads, and the lovely Sarah so kindly sent me a table cloth with the embroidery template already on it that she found in a charity shop. As the nights now draw in, this is definitely something I’m going to have a go at.
I’m also seriously considering trying to knit again. My mum will be shocked! The few times I’ve done this in the past it’s been a total disaster, usually with me throwing a tantrum and the yarn ending up in the bin. Well no more! Rowena, better known as Vintage Lincoln on Instagram, posted a photo of her very first knitted jumper and it actually looks like something I could tackle. For those in the know, it’s called the 1930s 3-hour Sweater, and it’s available for FREE!! here. I can just about understand the pattern, so the first hurdle is already out of the way.
The only problem with all these new hobbies is that there just isn’t enough hours in the day. Why oh why do I have to work full time?!! Don’t they know I have beautiful 1930s clothes I want to make? Ah well, at least I can keep on dreaming and planning my fabulous wardrobe as I do the more mundane stuff. Does anyone else find they just don’t have the time to fit all of their hobbies in?