When I started to crochet back in 2009, I remember thinking that one day I’d like to be good enough at crocheting that I would be able to wear something I crocheted every day for a week. Not a scarf or a beanie, but a crocheted top. (When you’re learning to crochet by making a simple granny square, imagining that you would be able to one day make something that requires shaping and reading of complex patterns seems an impossible dream.)
I imagined I would feel very special wearing something I crocheted myself. Going to work wearing something that no-one else has, would be thrilling. And seeing admiring glances as I walk through the streets of London, I would always assume that people were not looking at me, but rather at the beautiful and unique top I was wearing. And they’d wonder where I got it from and one day someone would stop me to ask and I could say: “Oh this. I crocheted it myself”. Okay, I may have taken the imagining a tad too far (no-one stops anyone in London to give them a compliment!) but the basic idea is that I would enjoy wearing my crochet tops. And I was right. It’s the best!
There’s a process involved in making a crochet top. It starts by searching for patterns on Ravelry, the Garnstudio website and my library of crochet books. I enjoying looking for the perfect top because you have to imagine yourself in it, with the trouser/skirt you want to match it with and you may have to look past a corny posed photo (like in many of the Japanese pattern books). A lot of the time I start off looking for, for instance, a sleeveless V-neck but I fall in love with a long-sleeved tunic which I end up making as a 3/4 sleeve hip length top! Then I have to look for yarn that would exactly match my favourite trouser or multicoloured skirt. Picking the yarn also has to take into account the suggested gauge from my chosen pattern and the cost per ball. I think I spend the most time finding the right colour. Colour is so important! When I have the perfect pattern and most beautiful yarn I can start to make my top. I love the process of getting to know the pattern repeats or the motif, ticking off the rows and bracing myself for the neck shaping. From start to finish, I adore crocheting tops!
At last count, I have made seven crochet tops – that’s my dream of having one for each day of the week, fulfilled! I’m currently busy with one (Rose, which I blogged about here) and I have two more tops to follow. That’s a grand total of nine!
Each of these crocheted tops has a history and a special place in my heart and my wardrobe. I have my favourite to wear, favourite to make, didn’t-turn-out-quite-as-expected and taking-this-one-to-the-grave top.
In random order, here are all my crocheted tops:
1. Nicest to wear, fits the best, taking-this-one-to-the-grave: Serina
Serina is the nicest to wear because of the Vinnis Serina 100% bamboo yarn. Man oh man that stuff is soft! And it drapes so, so, so, beautifully. The only tiny issue is that the bamboo soaks up water like a sponge so it takes a good few days to dry. I consider this my taking-it-to-the-grave top because it also fits me beautifully and was fun to make. It’s my number one top. You can find the ta-daaaah post for Serina here.
2. Most proud of: Japanese V-neck
This was my first attempt at reading Japanese crochet patterns. I had a, let’s call it, “challenging time” doing the first four rounds – the patterns calls for the longest starting chain in history of crochet tops and the stupid thing would twist and I’d loose count – but I stuck it out because the end result would be so spectacular. This top used the most brainpower to make, but now it’s a no-brainer that this is the top I’m proudest of. You can find the ta-daaah post for the Japanese V-neck top here.
3. Didn’t turn out quite as expected: Blue Japanese top
The Drops Delight yarn that I used for this Japanese pattern, wasn’t all that nice. The wool content makes it scratchy so I don’t like it against my skin and always have to wear something long-sleeved underneath. I thought it would be a good idea to do something in self striping yarn, but the longer I look at it, the less I like it. The top also has no waist shaping and combined with the mishmash of colours it’s not very figure flattering. Somehow, all I see when I look at it are the lighter horizontal stripes (which accentuates my hips) and that odd light square at the bottom. I do wear it in the winter over a long sleeved top, but only around the house. I think the mistake with this one was 100% due to the choice of yarn. The Japanese pattern was a lot of fun though. You can find the ta-daaah post for the Blue Japanese top here.
4. Most fun to make: Corfu
I started, and finished, Corfu whilst on holiday in, you guessed it, Corfu. The pattern uses Aran weight cotton and it’s very easy to follow so Corfu worked up really quickly. The perfect project for a week long holiday. This top always reminds me of the beach, sunshine and temporary tattoos. You can find the ta-daaah post for Corfu here.
5. Too small: Country Dreams
Country Dreams is a beautiful pattern – I love the detailing around the top and the cuffs – but the cotton Drops Safran yarn is very stiff and the sleeves are too tight. If I had known how little the Drops Safran would stretch and drape, I would have gone up a size. If it was only for the sleeves being tight I could still wear Country Dreams, but the neckline is a bit iffy. It doesn’t stay down and in a V-shape – it wants to even itself out and go straight. I think the problem really is that I made it one size too small. And maybe I should have used a softer yarn with more give. You can find the ta-daaah post for Country Dreams here.
6. Most wearable and I will one day make another: Belle
I wore Belle just yesterday. I wear a lot of grey, black and brightly coloured patterned skirts, so a textured light grey top makes for a lot of outfits. I still think that Bell’s construction is genius and I would really love to make another one. The only change I’ll make would be to make the body and sleeves a tiny bit longer. You can find the ta-daah post for Belle here.
7. My very first and I will one day use the yarn again: Whispers cardigan
Even if I hated everything about this cardigan, it would always had made it to this list. It was my very first piece of wearable crochet that I didn’t have to wrap around my neck! Looking back on it, I don’t know why I didn’t start with something simpler (like Belle), but it was a huge success. I felt so proud of myself, and still feel that way every time I wear it. I also feel very snug because the Drops Baby Alpaca Silk yarn is absolutely amazing. It’s soft and light yet just warm enough. Even in a cardigan with lots of holes (the common way of saying “made up of openwork lace”) I don’t feel cold, but I also don’t feel hot and sticky if the temperature rises. I absolutely adore the Drops Baby Alpaca Silk and would use it again in a heartbeat. You can find the ta-daah post for the Whispers Cardigan here.
So there you have my list of seven crochet tops, each one very special to me – even the two that I don’t like wearing very much. They’re the result of hours of crocheting, challenging myself, learning new things and building on mistakes made. I love them all.
Looking at this list, I think I have to aim to make 10 crochet tops. What do you think? When Rose and the other two from my Japanese pattern book are finished I’ll have nine, but that doesn’t sound right. I have to make at least one more. Right? I can’t end on nine. I need enough crochet tops for two weeks of work. Maybe top no. 10 should be a revisit of Belle, made in Drops Baby Alpaca Silk?! Or a crochet-knit combination from Marie Wallin’s Filigree book. Oooh yes! Mmmm…. looks like I’m going to end up with 11. But that’s not right either. I’ll have to up that to 15 so that it’s 3 weeks worth of crochet tops for work. Yes. 15 Crochet tops sounds good.