A Crochet Obsession

Editors' Note: We invited Marcy Smith, editor of Interweave Crochet, one of PieceWork's sister magazines, to tell us about a project she's been working on.

I can be a tad obsessive about crochet. How about you?

When I find a pattern that speaks to me, I make one, then two, then maybe six. For instance, the Seafoam Shawl by Kimberly McAlindin (Interweave Crochet Accessories 2011) is a go-to favorite. If I find 450 yards of just about any kind of yarn sitting around unattended (it happens more often than you might think), I find myself working a strip of  foundation single crochets to make another. I give them away like candy.

Marcy and her loved ones rendered in crochet.

But nothing really compares to my obsession with crocheted portraits. I was compelled to render my loved ones in yarn, and I was on a mission to find an accessible way to do it. I researched pixelating software, I graphed pictures with colored pencils, I swatched swatches. The house was littered with curious bits of crocheted noses and chins. But I couldn't find the right balance of ease and beauty. Every few weeks, I thought I'd found the perfect technique, but then it, for instance, required me to crochet with my left hand. Which just doesn't happen.

Marcy in another colorway.

Then, eureka! I happened upon a phone app that renders photos in a variety of colorways, and the colorways are particularly cool. One incorporates about a dozen colors, including pink and orange, in a way that truly does look like the picture. Once printed, the pixelated photo becomes a chart for crochet. Ditching the left-handed methods, I dove into Tunisian. And yes, I'd found it! The perfect match of beauty and technique.

It's not particularly fast. It calls for a whole set-up (I use a music stand to hold my chart and manage my yarn shuttles). It takes about ten days of obsessive crochet to finish it. A less-aggressive crocheter might take a month.

I spent six weeks crocheting my family's faces to create a family portrait in time for Christmas. I even redid two of the portraits, because I wasn't happy with the final result (one trick of the method is finding a yarn with a broad enough palette for portraits AND trusting that the computer color is the same as the color that arrives on the doorstep). The obsession hasn't ended. I just did an anniversary portrait for our Leap Day wedding anniversary. Lately, I've been eyeing the dog's profile.

What? You want in on this obsession? Check out the Back Page of the Spring 2012 issue of Interweave Crochet. In this new feature, we're all about  “empowering crochet awesomeness.” Then hop over to CrochetMe.com for the nitty-gritty details on how to make your own crochet portraits.

I can't wait to see your portraits!



P.S. Is it possible to have too many obsessions? My latest is exploring lace crocheted from tobacco twine. If you know anything about this tradition, I'd love to hear from you! You'll find me at msmith@interweave.com. And stay tuned to read about what I learn in a future issue from PieceWork.