I’m thrilled to unveil the pattern for another one of my “Velveteen Rabbit Potential” projects from my big yarn buy last year. The Herringbone Haze Infinity Scarf was my first project in super bulky yarn. And it was. Super. Bulky. When I was getting testers for the pattern, they kept trying their super chunky yarn, but it was never chunky enough. I didn’t realize that once you hit the super bulky threshold, yarn weight measurements go out the window. Everything is lumped together, whether it’s 25 or 250 yards for each 100g hank.
I designed this scarf to accomplish 2 things. 1) Make good use of the chunk factor to lift and define a stitch pattern that would otherwise be small or get lost. 2) Play up the fuzz factor to celebrate how close it is to working with straight up wool roving. I’m really happy with where I got to. The fact the yarn was so huge that the scarf was lightning fast to make was an added bonus. In the process of making this, I realized a couple of things about why I love crocheting so much.
Firstly, I was looking into entering a project into the Royal Easter Show, but decided against it. For my Stateside friends, this is the equivalent of a state fair. An autumnal celebration of agriculture, arts, crafts and all the food you could possibly wish for. (Sadly, no cheese curds here, but since Aussie potato scallops are a regular at the Minnesota State Fair, I think it’s just a matter of time before cheese curds cross the Pacific.) The Easter Show has an enourmous range of arts and craft entries with a significant crochet contingency. You need to submit your entries more than two months before the show. I had factored this in for 2019, but as I read through the 40 page rules, I was surprised by one of the requirements. Anything you enter must never have been worn or used. I’m sure the rationale behind this is to hold the high standards for exhibits and to ensure entries are not soiled or stretched. Imagine if a pie entry was already partially eaten. Not a great way to shine. This is probably similar to what they’re trying to avoid. But this was one requirement I just didn’t feel comfortable with, but I wasn’t exactly sure why.
The second and more full revelation occurred while our family was at the Powerhouse Museum. The full name is the Museum for Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS). They have everything from electricity experiments to old performance costumes, a giant steam engine and an Apple II E computer (complete with floppy disk drive). I feel a connection with the exhibits at this museum more than most and I found myself wondering why. As I walked through a section of vintage Chinese home decor I realized that it’s the “applied” aspect of the art that grabs me. It’s one thing to create soaring, provocative art that makes you think, but it’s a different thing to make something meant to be touched and interacted with. The ability to marry form and function adds a layer of meaning and engagement that resonates with me. The fact the museum sells crochet earrings in their gift shop was just further confirmation that I am definitely an applied art kinda gal.
This is what I love about crocheting. It is hands on and creative at the same time. You take the abstract and make it relatable. You layer color and texture not just for the aesthetic value, but for different uses and purposes. And I think that’s the crux of something in my mindset. What value is there in having all the deep and profound thoughts in the world if they don’t impact your life? Application is critical. Application makes art inviting and engaging. It infuses a purpose and role into something that would otherwise be vague or esoteric. At the same time, it takes something that could be only functional, but elevated it and imparts beauty and creativity.
This lines up with how I want to live my life. I want the places I go to be touched with color. I want to spark creativity in the mundane and joy in all activities. Once I recognized this, I realized that my love for crochet was far from accidental. It was the natural overflow of my applied creativity. Once I realized this, so many other things made sense. The reason I'm drawn to vintage, worn brown leather over brand, spanking new - or why furniture that's a bit distressed makes me feel more comfortable. I like things where you can sense it was lived it, that it touched another life. And this is what I want my crochet to be all about. I want it to beg to be touched and I want my gifts to bring joy to the hands and lives of others. This scarf could practically be a family pet because you can just sit and pet it all day. And I think something magical really does take place when something gets worn out or rough around the edges. It can be pretty rare, but like the Velveteen Rabbit, that's when it becomes most "real" and I hope the Herringbone Haze Infinity Scarf can become "real" for you too.
For my birthday 10 years ago, my husband and I were in Morocco. We’re birthday people. Big birthday people. We both love making a big deal about celebrating - for richer or poorer - throughout our marriage. He surprised me by whisking me away to a city I had never heard of and I left convinced that everyone must go at least once before they die. I had never even heard of it at that point, but it took my breath away instantly. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen in love with a city so quickly and I’ve always wanted to go back since then.
Fast forward a decade and I found myself looking for self-striping yarn. For some reason, most of this yarn is either acrylic or an acrylic blend. It felt like searching for a unicorn. But then, I found the perfect 100% wool with a scrubby, rustic texture that looked like someone had taken their paintbrush to it and I was transfixed. The shift from teal to azure to white to mustard to terra cotta took me back to the Moroccan coastal town that captured my heart.
As soon as I hooked into it, I knew I was working on something special. As the shells, scallops and posts layered like sedimentary layers, beauty was building row by row. The color combo was like channeling the memory of a short, but powerful, experience. I remembered the intricate tiles on the wall at the restaurant where we ate tapas. I remembered the sounds of the bright blue wooden boats clacking together while they were moored. I remember the white and wood combo of the B & B with a center courtyard you could look down to from 3 levels up. There was a resonance between the creative stimulation of the yarn and the process of crocheting the wrap itself. As the layers progressed, it seemed to unlock forgotten memories and new ideas at the same time.
It doesn’t surprise me that there has been a resurgence in slow, applied creative arts. Technology isn’t bad, but the tactile experience of something is different from a digital rendition. People often ask how I have time to crochet so many things, but it usually isn’t so much about making a concerted effort to carve our crocheting time or tackle a project for a specific deadline. Rather, I just swap the fiddling I would do on my phone with fiddling with a crochet hook. And you know what my smart phone doesn’t do? Relax me. It can distract me and entertain me, but it never leaves me feeling more calm and peaceful.
But crocheting does. It takes my compulsive urge to fiddle with things and channels it into something. Not only do I end up with a usable product at the end, but I have been on a journey that melds stories from where I’ve been with blue sky thinking about possibilities. It flips my flippant need to fidget for a beneficial purpose. It gives me an outlet for more joy, generosity an color in my life. Sometimes you stumble upon something where the materials, creative process and meaning are so resonant that you unlock ethereal harmonica in your work. The Essaouira Sunset Wrap was that for me and I hope it can be that for you too.