Most crocheters seem to think of the slip stitch, (usually abbreviated “sl st” in crochet patterns) as being a humble little stitch that is very useful, though limited. It has such a simple structure that there couldn’t be much to it. Or could there?
The known territory is well settled: beginning crocheters learn that slip stitches are needed when joining a round, or for traveling invisibly across other stitches, such as when crocheting doilies, granny squares, and other motifs. It’s a basic stitch that’s easy to learn. Unfortunately, new crocheters are still often taught that slip stitches are not for making fabric: “You wouldn’t want to make a fabric of all slip stitches. It wouldn’t drape and would take forever.”
Slip Stitch Designs - Anything Is Possible
Perhaps a venerable old subcategory of Slip Stitch Crochet influences these assumptions about what kind of fabric slip stitches produce. It’s known in many countries by different names. English speakers call it Bosnian Crochet, Muslim Crochet, and Shepherd’s Knitting. In Norwegian it is pjoning, and in Swedish it’s krokvirkning, smygmaskvirkning, and bosnisk virkning. It may be the oldest form of crochet.
Many crocheters and knitters remember seeing their relatives from other countries such as Morocco, Bosnia, Poland, Norway, and Sweden, crochet thick, dense socks, mittens and hats with slip stitches. The fabric is so dense that mittens made from it are very warm, durable, soft, and even waterproof. Not only is the fabric practical, it’s beautiful! Two versions of the slip stitch are used to create the intricate patterns of textures and colors of this centuries-old art form.
It’s precisely because the diminutive slip stitch has such a simple structure that a seemingly insignificant change in how it is crocheted results in large-scale effects. Merely changing the hook size or yarn type can be enough to create something stretchy enough to be worn as a “magic tube” scarf (the “Mr. Stretchy” pattern page is here), or slinky enough to seem to pour over the shoulders. Neither of these look like other crochet stitches, and they certainly don’t reflect existing assumptions about what slip stitches do.
Change the entry point of the stitch, change the direction of entry, change the direction of working, change the ‘yarn over’ that completes the slip stitch....how many new slip stitches does that make?!
There’s a community of slip stitch adventurers. David Burchall, Bendy Carter, James Walters, Dora Ohrenstein, Nancy Nehring and many other crocheters are pursuing new slip stitch fabrics in their own ways.
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Below are some important links of a growing Slip Stitch Crochet Community: Bosnian Crochet and beyond.
If you’re not a member of Ravelry, it’s worth joining just for the Slip Stitch Crochet Group. You’ll find more links there to blog entries and to non-English language articles and books about crochet slip stitches.
My favorite article about the “Bosnian”-style Slip Stitch Crochet is available at Dora Ohrenstein’s Crochet Insider, an online crochet magazine every crocheter should know about--and it’s free! Please support it by visiting its pattern shop and advertisers.
A new Wiki about Slip Stitch Crochet has been created, incorporating David Burchall’s discoveries among others. There are links to more patterns and booklets at this site. A big thank you to David, who influenced my thinking about slip stitches as being an open-ended stitch family.
James Walters’ Bosnian’ Crochet Fabric page may have been the first to introduce me to new possibilities for slip stitch fabrics.
I’ve enjoyed Bendy Carter’s stitch innovations for years! Her new pattern book Knit 1, Purl 2 in Crochet is a fresh contribution to modern Slip Stitch Crochet. Also see Nancy Nehring’s recent slip stitch pattern booklets.
And finally, I greatly enjoyed this blog post by Hillevi in Finland.
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