I am not a crocheter. Crochet and I just do not mix. Maybe it's from my younger years and earlier attempts when I tried my hand at crochet and didn't realize that I was trying to follow a British pattern using American techniques, and vice versa. It took me several failed crochet projects to realize that there are two "kinds" of crochet. Seriously? Wtf? Even though I now know this information, crochet still confuses me. Half the time I have no idea what I'm doing or where I'm suppose to stick my hook. I heard that even the most basic of basic granny squares is supposedly easy enough for a beginner to execute, and yet I had a hard time trying to figure it out. I'm still (slowly) working on my Giant Granny Square Blanket and it's quite obvious, especially at the end of each round, that there are a lot of mistakes. Oh well, like I said, crochet is not my forte.
So, with that said, guess what? Last weekend, I crocheted. I don't know what came over me but for some reason I had this sudden urge to crochet. And so I dropped my knitting, grabbed the skeins of yarn that keep staring at me in the face every time I slid open my closet door, and I started crocheting.
Two days later, I made a thing:
It's a basket!! Isn't it magnificent? I'm pretty darn proud of myself. I still can't believe I made that. But don't be fooled, there are flaws. I tried to take a photo but couldn't get the angle right to make the flaw obvious enough without photoshopping a bunch of arrows pointing to it. I have the speckle-effect fabric to thank, as it really hides all the imperfections.
A little backstory to this basket:
Our desk, a small area beside the desk, and half of the coffee table are covered in yarn, swatches, and WIPs. I've been meaning to purchase another Bolga basket to contain my knitty mess but decided against it, thinking that I would most likely fill it up without actually resolving the issue, which is to simply sort out and clean up the mess. But I still wanted something to keep all current WIPs that don't leave the house in, like my Exploration Station shawl. Or at least something to keep all my leftovers in because I completely forget about them if I put them back in the stash and I would like to find ways to use them up, and most of them I don't have the heart to chuck out.
As I was mulling over how to remedy my situation (cause I have better things to do than to clean up my crafty mess...like knit!), I kept encountering my skeins of Lion Brand Thick & Quick in the Hudson colourway. I literally had the skeins in a big, clear, handled Ziploc bag hanging off a hanger in my closet that also contained a few skeins of the creamy Fisherman colourway. I've been hoarding my skeins of Hudson because every time I go to Michaels they are always sold out. I've been planning on knitting myself a pair of mittens and I'm sure if I had more skeins at my disposal I would find a way to cover every one and every thing in that colourway. But since it's no longer cold enough to wear such warm mittens and the skeins were right there, an idea hit me. I'll whip up my own storage solution!
I took to Ravelry, looking up what I could do with Thick & Quick in terms of storage containers. I wanted something quick, easy, and sturdy enough to handle the job. You're probably wondering why I don't just sew something up. I thought about it but find that a lot of fabric boxes and baskets aren't as sturdy as I would like them to be. Although, with that said, I would love to sew up a few of these baskets by Noodlehead.
Anyhoo, what I found on Ravelry was a pattern that fit my specifications to a T: the Chunky Basket by Elizabeth Pardue. The only problem? It was a crochet pattern. I read over the instructions, looked up a few websites and Youtube videos and decided that I could do it. Yep. I can. And so, like with most things I do in life, I dove in head first without a single thought of doubt. Not even one that hinted that I couldn't do it.
Before I started I had to get my hands on the correct crochet hook size. For a non-crocheter, I have a heck of a lot of hooks, especially in the 4mm-6mm (US G-J) range. The pattern calls for an 8mm (US L) hook and specified that in order to achieve a stiff fabric that can stand up on its own, a super bulky yarn with a smaller hook was needed. I hemmed and hawed about this. I had a 9mm (US N) hook. Could 1mm really make that much of a difference? Since I don't crochet, I could only draw conclusions based off of my knitting experience - which tells me that if the difference between a 3.75mm (US 5) needle and a 4mm (US 6) needle is half a stitch and could therefore be the distinction between a tight, heavy garment and light, flowy one, then yes, 1mm could definitely make a world of a difference. Besides, my gut was telling me to go with the 8mm hook. I better listen.
A quick trip to Michaels and half a day later (hey, it was Valentine's Day after all!), I got to work. Luckily the Kiddo was already in bed because I was constantly whispering "what the eff??" to myself the entire time I worked on the basket. I crocheted the base as written in the pattern and discovered that my gauge was off by half an inch. I liked the fabric I was getting and didn't want to go up a hook size, but didn't like how small the base looked. I checked over the pattern, did a few calculations, and decided that I was going to keep going and make the base bigger. I did an additional two rounds of increases, which resulted in a 12" base diameter, and then continued on with the pattern as written. I hit the round right before the ridge detail and before you add in the handles and realized that the basket was slightly too shallow for my liking. Again, I looked over the pattern, saw that the fabric consisted of alternating rounds of single crochet (sc) and half double crochet (hdc), and concluded that I could do an additional four rounds in this manner before moving on to the final details.
The end result: a fine looking basket that was 12" wide and 9" deep. Big enough to quite a few WIPs, a whack load of leftovers, or even skeins of yarn. The photo above shows a full skein of Thick & Quick in the basket as an idea for size. I'm really happy with how this project turned out and immediately put the basket to use. I even learned a few things, like why there was a small bulge along the seam of the body (I was adding an extra stitch at the end of each round because I couldn't tell that I had already added one in there at the beginning). I was pleasantly surprised that a few things finally clicked in my head about what I've been doing wrong all these years and think I no longer have to fear crochet. Don't get me wrong, while I'm extremely proud of my basket, I'm not converting and I'm not going to start crocheting all the things!
Crocheting is already tough on the hands but add in trying to create a super stiff fabric, and it turns into a project that's also a hand killer! Ok, maybe that's too severe, but I did need to take it easy and give my hands a good stretch, ice, and a break for a day or so. But I had so much fun with this project that after giving my hands a rest I immediately grabbed my hook and started another basket! Actually, this time I'm thinking of making a tray-type basket. When I was a few rounds past the first ridge on the basket I had stopped to move my stuff to the couch (we're halfway through our Star Trek TNG marathon!!), it was then that I noticed that the size and height of the body made for an awesome looking tray. A tray that would work fabulously well with say, a shawl WIP that required three cakes of yarn. Hmmm... But I was dead set on making a basket, so I would have to explore that option later.
Well, the basket is done and now it's later. I still have a few skeins in my stash, when the weather turns cold again I could always pick up some more for mittens, and I can't stop marvelling over how beautiful the Hudson colourway works up in crochet. Mind you, I heald the yarn doubled with a strand of Fisherman, which I had set aside to knit a baby blanket from, but again, I can pick up more later when I'm finally ready to knit that blanket. The basket only took a day and a half to whip up, a tray wouldn't take that long either. So yesterday I got to work (as you can see in the very first photo of this post) and I reckon I'll be able to finish the tray later on tonight. I'm excited!!
:: Crochet Basket Details ::
Pattern: Chunky Basket by Elizabeth Pardue
Yarns: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick
Colours: Hudson and Fisherman
Hook: Boye Ergonomic Aluminium Crochet Hook in 8mm (US Size L)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Hudson Bay Basket