I remember the time I first encountered freeform crochet and knitting and how liberating and dare I say it? exhilirating it was! I reprimanded myself for not thinking of it myself as really it’s a simple idea to crochet, making up the shapes and textures as you go along.
I particularly like the feeling of being very much in control of how it evolves, but also that there is a surprise element when something new is tried. Freeform crochet and knitting is an excellent method for producing textiles with a distinctly organic character.
Similarly spinning and other textile crafts can be approached in a more unconventional way and I find it very exciting to break the rules and try something unexpected. I am particularly intrigued with how conformity and rebellion can be contrasted in textiles. For example, perhaps something very formal like counted cross stitch could be combined with something unpredictable like wet felting or melting fabric. Or a highly-textured handspun yarn could be used in a perfectly balanced Fair Isle knitting pattern.
I think that it was during my foundation course in Art and Design that I first learned to question the application of materials and to push back the supposed boundaries when possible. So, why not stitch through clay or knit barbed wire – ouch! Through experimenting with what at first may seem impossible, new opportunities definitely open up. Perhaps the barbed wire does prove too inflexible, so a more supple wire is used and then maybe it is left outside for a few weeks to rust and you have a whole new approach to knitting and ‘yarns’ to investigate. This is the sort of thing I love and I guess it encourages a childlike mentality of play and experimentation which I think is healthy for the soul and it’s happiness!
To return to my project which is inspired amongst other things by the idea of a secret garden and the effect time has on nature and other materials, I am now at the point where I need to find ways to combine freeform crochet with fabric manipulated by stitch.
Although I was pleased with my freeform crochet results so far, I think that I need to make them more delicate and perhaps lace-like as I am aiming for an ethereal and fey quality. I would like to at least partly use handspun yarn as it is easy to create an irregular thickness and also use a combination of different fibres.
One of the reasons why freeform crochet is so suitable for the theme I’m working around is that a very irregular and organic shape can be created very spontaneously.
The blue fibre in this photo is silk noil that has been handspun and has a weather worn and fragile appearance.
Although this is knitting here, I have included it because after being washed on a hot wash in the washing machine, it has distorted and looks worn. I was really pleased with the result which is a very weathered look as I suppose it has literally been exposed to the elements! I think that it may be worth experimenting with different ways to achieve an aged look for applying to crochet.
Ready made crochet cotton looks good juxtaposed with thick wool fibres as the wool has a floaty, cloudy quality whereas the cotton has more definition.
I particularly like the way this combines with the twisting fabric shapes.
The next step to be explored in next week’s blog is methods of attaching crochet to fabric; it may be best to leave the crochet sections to hang freely or perhaps they could be appliquéd on with hand stitches? As always there are so many, maybe too many possibilities to explore 🙂