There have only been two times that Crocheting has made me cry. The first was when I was writing my first blog post How I Learned to Crochet. The second time crochet made me cry was when I tried to learn the Hairpin Lace Crochet technique.
When I first stumbled upon Hairpin Lace I knew instantly that I MUST learn how to do this! I loved everything about it. It is really not very hard to learn. It is so pretty – especially when you learn some of the more intricate joining methods. It is really versatile – there are dozens and dozens of combinations to create and join hairpin lace strips! You can combine hairpin lace with standard crochet stitches for some stunning rows in afghans, apparel, and scarves, or as an elegant border. You are limited only by your own creativity and imagination!
Did I cry because I was overcome with the beauty of hairpin lace strips? Did I cry because it was so difficult that I would never be able to master such a complex technique? No – I cried because while I was learning this technique I ended up pinching a nerve in my right shoulder. The pain wasn’t what made me cry. I have a very high pain tolerance. What made me cry was that my right hand and wrist became very very weak and holding anything became nearly impossible.
Okay – I’m left handed, so no big deal I can still crochet without being able to control the useless claw that my right hand had become right? My mother only had use of her left arm and she was the person that taught me to crochet! I can do this! (I wrote about my mother being able to crochet with the use of only one arm in this post – Mother’s Day)
Nope – the crying commenced when I realized that I could NOT get the hook to do what it was supposed to be doing. The eyeball faucets were turned on full blast when I could not crochet at all. In hindsight it was the overly dramatic side of my personality that made me have a breakdown over a temporary injury. A lack of patience is what made me believe that I was doomed to never be able to do the craft that I loved most in world.
On an interesting side note – it really didn’t bother me very much that I was also unable to do any household chores. 😀
A lack of patience is probably what caused me to pinch a nerve to begin with. I was so eager to learn how to make hairpin lace that I couldn’t be bothered with adding the words “Left handed” to my YouTube search for how to tutorials. So since 99.9% of tutorials are for right handed people I tried to learn right handed. The combination of trying to hold the loom which was cumbersome, along with trying to control my crochet hook with my right hand instead of my left, then throw in the really odd way I was sitting at my computer staring at the monitor to watch the tutorial – it was no wonder that an injury of some sort was inevitable.
To make a short story long, I ended up needing to wear a wrist brace during the day and an elbow brace at night for about 6 weeks along with instructions to rest my arm. Of course it goes without saying that as soon as I was sufficiently recovered I grabbed my still brand new barely used hairpin lace loom and tried again. This time I did find a left handed tutorial. 😀
Lessons to be learned here:
- See your doctor if you experience symptoms of a neck, elbow, wrist or hand injury
- Be mindful of ergonomics with your crafting station set up and tools
- Use instructions and tutorials for left handed people if you are left handed 😀
Hairpin Lace requires some special hardware – a Hairpin Lace Loom. It is not very expensive and if you are handy with power tools you could probably make your own with some dowels and blocks of wood. I’ve even seen one very clever video where a person made a hairpin lace loom with skewers and empty toilet paper rolls! I don’t really recommend that since it isn’t very sturdy – but I absolutely could see myself coming up with that sort of gadget because I am impatient and hated having to wait for Amazon to send me my loom!
The hairpin lace loom will have holes in the bars that are located on the top and bottom. You can adjust the width of the strips by placing the bars closer together or farther apart. The length of the strips you make is limited to how long the bars are on your loom. I can tell you that I know for a fact that my 12 inch long loom can hold 240 stitches! It was tight but I made it work! To give you some perspective – 240 stitches works out to a strip about 4 feet long.
This post is an introduction to the Hairpin Lace technique. I will feature joining methods and projects that use hair pin lace strips. So off to Pinterest, Amazon, and YouTube with you! See how amazing some of these projects are, order your loom, and find the appropriate dominant hand video for learning how to crochet Hairpin Lace.
I very strongly recommend using a video tutorial since written instructions and drawings/photos of how to position the hook and turn the loom didn’t really make as much sense as actually watching someone do this.
It really isn’t that hard to learn. The loom is a little awkward at first but when you get the hang of it the turning of the loom with each stitch is very relaxing.
Thanks for reading!