Crochet: like portable polymer clay. sort of.

Before I picked up a hook for the first time, I considered crocheting to be a craft most closely related to knitting. After all, you often hear the words “knit” and “crochet” in the same breath.  But it didn’t take me long to realize that, for me, crochet is more like polymer clay work than any of the other crafts I do.

I’ve been thinking about this connection since the first time I found myself digging through a pile of yarn looking for the perfect colors to join together into a square. It’s a process reminiscent of the first stages of polymer caning. Pawing through yarn or pawing through little packages of clay, the process is much the same. In both cases, you are in search of three or four colors that will look magical together, and you are envisioning how they will interact.

Building a granny square blanket is very much like building a cane, especially if you work primarily in square-shaped canes as I do.  Building a cane, or building a granny square, you start at the center and work your way outwards. Then you assemble multiple squares into a complex design.  The media and methods are different, but the conceptualizing is much the same, and I’m realizing that’s the part that grabs me about both crafts.

In progress

As you know, my background is in polymer.  It was my medium of choice from 1996 until I bought my sewing machine five years ago and went fabric-crazy (followed by yarn-crazy).  Of all the fiber-related crafts I’ve dabbled in since then, crochet is the one that has felt most “familiar” to me since the get-go.  It’s almost sculptural in nature.  The part of my brain that lights up when I think about crochet projects is the same part of my brain that dances at the thought of a new cane.  I am positive that my recently-rekindled interest in polymer is due in no small part to my newfound crochet skills.

365 day 316 - Thinking creative thoughts

Sure, not all crochet is colorful and square-shaped.  And sure,you can play with color in your knitting or your sewing (quilting lends itself especially well to this idea of building squares). But I feel that polymer connection flowing more organically with a crochet hook than it does with any other fiber-related tool I have tried.

The makings of a new project

This is one of the reasons why I was so excited several months ago to try making a granny square cane in polymer.  I mean, it just makes sense, right? But I had no luck.  Maybe I was trying to be too complicated with it? I was attempting to add shading in the right places to make the individual strands of “yarn” visible.  I was trying to make the idea modular in some way, so as to allow many different combinations from one set of canes. I was just being complicated. As is often my problem.

Hook set

So, this morning, I saw that Cynthia mentioned me on Polymer Clay Daily. She’s been playing with the granny square cane idea after purchasing a tutorial that I can guarantee you is way more simple than I was trying to be (this is a good thing, by the way).  I had all but given up on the idea of making crochet hook handles with granny square cane designs on them, but I suddenly have a renewed interest.  I now know that it can, indeed, be done. And it looks nifty.

Polymer people, if you haven’t picked up a hook yet, you should give it a try sometime. It’s a great way to exercise a love of color from the comfort of your favorite spot on the couch. Plus, it’s much easier to whip up a granny square while waiting in the school pickup line than it is to do millefiori!

I wish I didn’t have a full agenda today – there are visions of  granny square canes dancing in my head now.


This entry was posted in crochet, polymer clay and tagged , by Lisa. Bookmark the permalink.

About Lisa

I am a polymer clay artist turned fiber addict. I can often be found here at Polka Dot Cottage, writing about my adventures in polymer, fabric, yarn, photography, and everyday life. I live in New Jersey with my husband, two sons, and entirely too many craft supplies.

18 thoughts on “Crochet: like portable polymer clay. sort of.

  1. Pingback: Eliza Gutierrez

  2. Thank you for this post! I can’t tell you how many times I day I remind myself to keep it simple. I always try to do things the hard and complicated way first. I’m working on a stained glass cane and I know I’m making it so much harder than it has to be!

    I can’t wait to see the crochet hooks!!!

    I also understand what you mean about a full schedule. I get unreasonably frustrated when I have to leave an idea for some time in the future!

    • Well, your tutorial was really an eye-opener as to how un-complicated it really has to be. Of course, I can’t seem to ever do anything as written and so I’ve spent the last few days daydreaming about ways to complicate it up 😀

  3. Pingback: madeinlowell Liz

  4. Pingback: Linda

  5. Pingback: Linda

  6. I hate when a rush of creative energy is thwarted by a full agenda. Do you carry an inspiration notebook so that you can at least caputre the idea to come back to later?

    PS What is a cane? I’m a crocheter and not familiar with the polymer terms (but I’d LOVE an education;)

    • Haha, you were probably asking Lisa but… I definitely have an inspiration notebook, and it does help to know that those ideas are there, tucked away and waiting for me! A cane is a roll or log of clay that has a pattern all the way through. No matter where you slice the cane, the design will be in-tact. Once I went to a salt water taffy factory, and the idea is the same. You can stretch them out, making the diameter very tiny, and the pattern is still there. These slices can be a veneer for practically anything. They’re also perfect for miniature foods (orange slices, peppermints etc.) because it’s easy to make them so small. After hundreds of canes, I’m still intrigued every time I slice a cane!

    • Hey, Kasey, I don’t really carry an inspiration notebook, but I do have a supply of legal pads peppered around the house 🙂

      Meg did a good job of explaining a cane. I usually say it’s like slice-and-bake cookie dough, where the picture runs all the way through. When you take a cross-section slice, you can apply it to objects like a veneer. Here is an image of a few canes I made recently:

      16/365 January 16

      I actually filmed myself making a cane a few weeks ago, but never edited or published the video. Maybe I’ll see if I can finish that up today and post it for you!

  7. I made a granny blanket 2 summers ago- so fun and great way to use yarn scraps. I am in awe of your pens…truly lovely, I never seen anything like that.

    • Me too, but unfortunately my brain has been kidnapped by granny square pirates this weekend, and it’s all I can think about 🙂 No progress on the video as a result.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *