Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When is a Crochet Stitch Pattern Not a Crochet Stitch Pattern?

Recently, there has been some discussion on-line, and in my crochet classes, about the names of stitches and stitch patterns. One teacher posted on a message board that a student came to class with a pattern that listed a stitch pattern as a "seed stitch", but it wasn't the "seed stitch" she knew, so she was totally confused. The stitch that the student brought in was "sc in front loop, sc in back loop". The teacher was also confused - because she knew the "seed stitch" as "sc, *ch 1, skip a stitch, sc in next, repeat from *" and in the next row, sc over the ch-1 spaces, and ch-1 over the scs. Then someone else chimed in with another stitch that she knew as the seed stitch. And then I got curious. What do these stitches look like when they're placed side-by-side? So I made a swatch, using all thoses stitches, and more - because they reminded me of the knit "seed stitch". If you knit, you'll know that the "seed stitch" in knitting is Knit 1, Purl 1, across the row. On the next row, you Purl over what looks like a Knit stitch, and Knit over what looks like a Purl stitch. This creates a bumpy fabric. Almost like a miniature basket-weave. It's bumpy, then smooth, then bumpy, then smooth, etc. The next row is smooth over the bumps, and bumpy over the smooth part.
On my swatch, I crocheted first the "seed stitch" that i know - sc over the ch-1 space, ch 1 over the sc. Then 2 rows of plain sc to separate the stitches. Then, sc in the front loop, sc in the back loop. Then, 2 rows of plain sc. Then what's called the "Grit Stitch" (and "Alternate Stitch" and "Griddle Stitch"), which is "skip a stitch, 2 sc in one stitch, skip a stitch, and 2 sc in the next st, repeating across". Then, 2 rows of plain sc, and then the "Up/Down" stitch (*sc, dc, repeat from * across. Next row, dc in the scs, sc in the dcs), also called the "Cobble" stitch.
I'm sure these stitch patterns have other names, because names for stitch patterns are not standardized.
But, I can see, by looking at the stitch patterns worked in one swatch, like I did, that they look similar, and probably can be interchanged, if done with caution.
Here's the swatch:

So, why would you have to proceed with caution if you were switching stitch patterns? Take a close look at the swatch. I made it in one sitting. I was relaxed from the beginning. I used the same hook, the same yarn. I didn't have to add or subtract stitches to make the stitch patterns come out to the same number. It all worked like a dream - and yet, the swatch is wider at the top, the part that was done last. If this would happen to you, and you wanted to substitute the "Up/Down" stitch for the "Seed Stitch", your gauge would change.

Here are close up pictures of the 4 stitch patterns I used, on the order I worked them. The directions for these stitch patterns can be found in most stitch dictionaries. The directions I gave to describe the stitch patterns are just short-hand directions.

Here is the "seed stitch" as I know it:

Here is the "sc in the front loop, sc in the back loop" stitch pattern:

Here is the "Grit Stitch" stitch pattern:

Here's the last one - the "Up/Down" stitch pattern:

What did this experiment tell me? Lots of things.
1. Most important - names of crochet stitches and stitch patterns are not standardized! What one person calls Stitch A, another may call Stitch B. So - when you are working a pattern, and it calls for you to work a stitch pattern, but there is no explanation of the stitch pattern, that's not a good situation. If you are a designer, as I am, you should describe any and all stitch patterns that you use and name.
2. If you are a designer, and think you have designed a new stitch pattern, you should do a little research into it- find out if the same stitch pattern has already been "discovered" and named. You can find out from some stitch dictionaries, and/or pattern books. If it already has a name, don't rename it! That just causes confusion.

I know that there are many more stitches that are different, but that have the same name. And many stitches that have 2 or more names. Foundation sc and chainless sc are the same stitch with 2 different names. And often, bobbles, puff stitches, popcorn stitches, berry stitches, clusters, knots, and shells are interchanged by mistake. I'm teaching some special Tunisian classes, and in my research on Tunisian crochet stitches, I've discovered, so far, three different Tunisian Purl stitches. I bet there are more!

I'll post soon on the Tunisian Purl stitches. Keep in touch!

Oh - the answer to the question - When is a Crochet Stitch Pattern not a Crochet Stitch Pattern? What do you think?