Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bent-wire crochet: the walking chain stitch

A left-hander's chain stitch.

A right-hander's chain stitch.

Fabric artists learn the role each hand plays in a particular technique, but typically resist learning how to switch those roles, even though this handedness has consequences for the work they can produce. For example, above, the chain stitches typical of left- and right-handed crocheters.

In doing flat work (i.e., when not working in the round, where the same stitch can be repeated endlessly,) the usual stratagem upon coming to the end of a row is to turn the work over to avoid the awkwardness of working the next row in the opposite handedness. The fabric is turned over, even though the texture is coarsened, as only every other row will look the same. In the nineteenth century, crocheters disliked coarse fabric textures as much as they disliked working left-handed, so they would actually cut the yarn in order to do the next row right-handed from the same side!

Today, when computer graphics has forced us to be more sophisticated about surfaces and their description, and emboldened us to be more ambitious in what we attempt in the making of fabrics, this sort of limping is out of date. A modern fabric artist should be able to work their technique both left-handed and right-handed, and as well from either side of the fabric.

In order for a fabric technique itself to be modern, it must be ambidextrous. The only ambidextrous sort of chain stitch I know of is a chain that alternates between left- and right-handed links, what I call a walking chain stitch.

Walking chain stitches.

No comments: