Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hook to Heal and the Rustic Lace Square

Kathryn Vercillo of crochetconcupiscence.com just published a book on personal creative growth, Hook to Heal. It consists of exercises and explanations for various categories of personal growth, such as mindfulness and letting go, along with recommendations about how to go about implementing a program of creative expansion.

The reason that I'm crocheting now is partly because Kathryn started a project to honor the memory of Wink, who died of depression, and to raise awareness about depression. While looking for flower patterns, I found her blog and a description of Wink and the Mandalas For Marinke project. My donations to the project are detailed in earlier blog posts. So I was predisposed to like this book, but I wanted to describe how it's working for me so that my praise won't be easily dismissed as flattery.

The first exercise in the "letting go" chapter is to make something with a wildly different hook and yarn size than the pattern requires, with the point being that the item is then, in a sense, useless. I want to make a v-stitch blanket, so I decided to apply the project to the v-stitch blanket and make one from cotton thread with a 1.5 mm steel hook. The start of the "blanket" is the colorful strip in the picture. Below the "blanket" is my rustic lace square project.
Above are my current thread projects. The rustic lace square motif is a popular design on Instagram, and I wanted to use my gray thread to make a small piece using the motif. The large incomplete panel in the center of the picture consists of six of the rustic lace squares joined together, and the centers of the other three are placed where they are supposed to end up, once they're finished. Unfortunately I didn't read the instructions correctly, and the wide quarter circles in the corners of the motif didn't meet properly. I decided that to redo the outer round of six little squares was not a big deal. So I frogged the outside rounds, which separated them at the same time, because I'm joining as I crochet the outer round.
Here are my squares, partially frogged. These squares have other problems that I didn't fix. I have two different sized hooks that both say 1.5 mm. One or two of these squares have centers that were made with the smaller hook, so they are slightly smaller overall. When I found out there were two different hooks, I put away the smaller one and reworked what I could, but I didn't rework the differently colored inside, and it made a difference.

However here are the final nine squares, joined and pinned to a pillow. I blocked them by spraying them with water and ironing them, and then letting them dry like this. Much of the unevenness disappeared. What remains is to add a border. This is where the creativity exercise and other things I read in the book really helped.

I had no instructions for making a border. I've been making my own borders for the granny square flowers, but this was more difficult. I had a picture of another rustic lace square project similar to mine that had a nice border, but it didn't make sense to me to imitate it, because it would have pulled the corner quarter-circles along the sides to the edge, and I wanted them to "float" the way they do on the inside.

So I used the strip of my v-stitch "blanket" as a kind of ruler to figure out how many stitches to put in the border. Being able to think of myself as creative was incredibly helpful here. I realize I don't call myself an artist. In my Instagram profile I say I am an art student and a "polycrafter." I often say, I'm not creative, I'm just good at following directions. One of the things Kathryn says early on in her book is that we must claim the title of artist. I have been turning this idea over in my mind for a few days, and it gave me the confidence I needed to design a border for this lovely set of rustic lace squares.

The picture above shows the first round of the border. In the lacy part of the border, I put two sc stitches in each loop and one in between loops and at the ends. I put one sc in each point where two corner points come together. I put a sc, ch 2, sc in the corner points at the outside corners. Between the lacy sections and the points, I made 12 chain stitches. I wasn't sure whether 12 was the right number, but the first round looked OK, and after I added the second round, I wasn't about to start over to make additional adjustments. I will be blocking the piece again and possibly starching it, so it doesn't matter that much if there is some give here and there.

In this picture I've added two more rounds of sc in two different grays, and I'm making a v-stitch round in the silvery gray of the central flower motif of the rustic lace square. I would not have thought to do this, and I would not have been able to design the border at all, had I not started the v-stitch "blanket" exercise.
Finally, here's a picture of how I plan to finish the border. After I make the v-stitch round I will add three more rounds of sc in the reverse order of colors as the first three rounds. I thought at first that the border was a little overpowering, but I think that's only because I've been staring at the rustic lace squares for so long that they're not interesting anymore. That's not the case. It's a beautiful and complex pattern, and the border will do it justice. It's a bit time-consuming but if I work at it I can probably finish by the end of the week while still making time to move some other projects forward. (I've edited this post to show the finished piece at the beginning. The border turned out slightly wavy in spite of blocking, so if I ever make another one of these again, 12 chain stitches is a bit too much to connect the parts of the squares that are at the edge.)

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