Friday, November 22, 2013

Crochet Cable Stocking Mess

About a year ago I was working on a ridiculously difficult project: a crochet cable Christmas stocking. It was an interesting project, because cabling is usually only done when you’re knitting (I have no idea how, I just know it’s a knitting thing). This particular pattern uses a lot of front post and back post crochets, which can be confusing. Instead of just doing a plain front (or back) post crochet, it utilized one over one left crosses, two over two left (or right) crosses, and three over three right (or left) crosses. Done exactly correctly, these yarn manipulations eventually looked quite nice. Or at least it did in the picture.
The problem was that it was pretty impossible to tell which stitches to work in when you got to the second row. “Okay, in the last row this was a three over three left cross here, so… which ones do I back post double crochet first? Do I go over the last three, or under?” This pattern was one of those that you’d have to work in a group to complete, or hunt down the creator and bash them over the head with emails until they admitted to using black magic to make the original.
Recently I had a comment left on the blog post I had written about the difficulty of the project a year or so ago. I was wanting another project, so I pulled it out, took it apart, and decided to start again.
I chained the correct number of chains, double crocheted the foundation row, one over one right crossed, three over three left crossed, two over two right crossed, and two over two left crossed. Then I stopped. “What do I do now?” I thought. While pondering, I started awake, realized I’d been dozing off, and set everything down, and went to sleep. I dreamed about crocheting, although it was about another project, so it didn't help me much with this one.
The main problem with this pattern was that it was a super complicated idea that was not articulated very well. The first time through, I was sure that I had the right one over one left cross/”back post double crochet around each of next 2 stitches” thing down. This time, I realized I’d been doing it all wrong. It’s not a one over one left cross unless it looks like a CROSS. And the cable that looks great in the picture doesn’t come through in the instructions. “Blindly back post double crochet around the next nine stitches!” it instructs, hoping that whatever you bumble out comes out looking similar to Red Heart’s fancy end product.
The best advice that I can offer for this project is not to get to attached to those stitches you’re doing, because you’ll probably have to pull them out to and redo them. The only way to know if you’re doing the cable part correctly is to just go ahead and do it, and if it’s wrong, pull everything out and redo it. It wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have eight other fancy crochet acrobatics to pull off along with the cabling part.
So maybe what you should do is this:
Ch 16.
Foundation Row: Dc in 3rd ch from hook, dc across (13 st).
Row 1: Turn, ch 3, dc in next 2 sts, 3/3 RC, fpdc around each of next 3 dc, dc in next 2 sts.
Row 2: Turn, ch 3, dc in next 2 sts, bdpc around each of next 9 sts, dc in next 2 sts.
Row 3: Turn, ch 3, dc in next 2 sts, fpdc around each of next 3 sts, 3/3 LC, dc in next 2 sts.
Row 4: Turn, ch 3, dc in next 2 sts, bdpc around each of next 9 sts, dc in next 2 sts.
Row 5: Turn, ch 3, dc in next 2 sts, 3/3 RC, fpdc around each of next 3 dc, dc in next 2 sts.
...and so forth until you figure out where to put your stitches and how the cable should look. Once you’ve got the cabling part down, it’s not hard to figure out how to treat the back post double crochet when you get to the one over one left cross part on even rows. Really, once you get the hang of things, you’ll really only need the instructions for the cabling and to remind you which direction your wiggly “two over two” bit is going.
It’s a daunting pattern. There’s a lot of information there that just gets flung in your face, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This isn’t the kind of thing you can sit in front of the television and make while you let your mind wander over the actions of reality tv stars. That’s for scarf and blanket making.
For this crochet cable stocking mess, you have to break everything into parts, pay attention, and check off rows as you finish them, so you don’t forget where you are. But don’t cross stuff out as you go (like I did the first time), because if you do, you’ll have to go back and erase it when you pull everything out to redo it because the stupid cable part doesn’t look right again. Every row is different, and it will look the way the picture does when you’re finished, that is if you don’t get distracted and aren’t afraid to pull it apart if it looks like you did something wrong.
Follow the pattern. Don’t let the pattern intimidate you. It’s just a pattern. You could toss it in the trash and go do something else with your yarn. It’s not the boss of you.

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