Off the hook

By |2006-03-30T09:00:00-05:00March 30th, 2006|Guides|

While flipping through Debbie Stoller’s latest book, “Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker,” you might find yourself thinking, “This is not your grandmother’s crochet.”
But Stoller is quick to point out that yes, this is your grandmother’s crochet, just not your grandmother’s patterns.
“I have to give mad props to my grandma,” says Stoller from her New York office at Bust magazine, where she is editor. Stoller grew up surrounded by women who did a wide variety of crafts.
“My Dutch mother and all the women on her side of the family were needle wielders of wide and varied skills: sewing, embroidering, knitting, and crocheting – they did it all,” she writes in “Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet.”
Though it’s unlikely they ever crocheted an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, blue and fuchsia crochet bikini or potholders with skulls on them, two of the patterns in Stoller’s book.
“All the patterns were contributed by girls and women from around the country,” most of whom are not professional pattern designers and have never had patterns published before, says Stoller. “I searched far and wide to gather up the best and the coolest crochet patterns that are being made out there.”
Yes, she did just say “coolest crochet patterns,” and she means every word.
Not that she needs to do much convincing. After all, “cute crocheted tops and bags” have appeared “in both chic boutiques and chain stores, and on fashion runways from Manhattan to Milan,” writes Stoller.
Yet where were the hip patterns?
“Most of the available crochet patterns were for things that, while I could appreciate their beauty and the skill required to create them, I had no interest in making,” she writes.
Stoller soon learned she was not alone. Thus “Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet” was born.
Though Stoller has yet to make everything in the book, it’s on her To Do list. She did make the cowboy hat she dons on the book’s cover – a pattern submitted by a grandmother with her own crochet blogs – and has made a couple other items as well.
“It’s been really exciting since the book has come out seeing them getting made,” she says. “People are posting them online. It’s so thrilling.”
While “Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet” is heavy on things to wear, there are also plenty of hip crochet projects to dress up your home, like a funky flowered doormat, a blanket modeled after the multi-colored broadcast TV test bar, cute crochet animals and a sock monkey baby blanket.
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Stoller has crocheted home decor herself.
“I have these little filet crochet curtains in the back of my house that my great aunt did that I got after my grandmother died and I have a similar curtain like that over the window of my front door that my mom made,” she says.
“I love feeling surrounded by the handiwork of my female relatives – it makes me feel safe and warm, especially because I know just how much work went into making these decorative items,” she writes.
“I don’t think anyone who’s never done it can get a real appreciation for this kind of thing until you try your hand at it yourself,” she says.
In fact, the idea that these crafts have long been “women’s work” is part of what draws Stoller to them.
“When I first started getting back into crafts I was getting really frustrated with the negative stigma that these crafts had,” she says. “Part of my goal was to help remove the stigma and get people to come and value these crafts for the skill that they require and the pleasure that can be had doing them.”
Even some feminists have dismissed crafting because of its tie to traditional female roles. “As a feminist I thought that that was really terrible and I am totally happy to see all these girls out there playing soccer but I also want to see boys out there crocheting and knitting,” she says. “The stigma is starting to go away. I do see more and more men doing knitting and crochet. I think that people are starting to understand that being a feminist and being a knitter can go hand in glove.”
But the main reason people crochet isn’t to make a feminist statement or even because they want a new blanket or shawl. They do it because it feels good.
“Really, if you want a nice lacy jacket and you want it fast and you want it cheap, you need to just buy it,” says Stoller. “The real reason people [crochet] isn’t for the final product because you could just go buy that anywhere. It’s just the process is so pleasurable.”
“I think the main thing is once someone does it, it’s just addictive because it feels so delicious in your hands,” says Stoller. “It really stills your mind and it’s just very soothing and wonderful.”
Stitch N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker

About the Author:

D'Anne Witkowski
D'Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.