Knitting with Needles

Knitting and Crochet with Attitude
Freeform: encouraged to function or evolve without advance planning; spontaneous

by Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten

Freeform crochet and knitting is exactly that; a spontaneous creation. Freeform allows you permission to throw away the pattern and to quote freeform crochet artist Jenny Dowde, "taking your yarn for a walk."

Many people are intimidated by freeform. In our "stay inside the lines" society, it is hard to give yourself permission to experiment. Well, here are some simple steps to get started down the wonderfully creative road of freeform crochet and knitting.

1. Color theory: Look at your yarn stash and pick out a variegated yarn. See the four or five different colors in that yarn? Well, there's your color palette for your first freeform project! Many people worry about color selection, however, by utilizing variegated yarn, it takes the guesswork out of mixing colors. Now use the colors of the variegated yarn and pick other yarns within that color palette. Now you are ready to get started scrumbling!

2. What is scrumbling anyway?: Scrumbling is the name of the small motifs that often make up a freeform project. The term was coined by freeform movement founders Sylvia Cosh and James Walters in the 1970's. These small motifs are made using various stitches to form different shapes. The best part of making scrumbles is that you don't need to know any special or advanced stitches. If you crochet, use your single, half double and double crochet. If you knit, your use knit and purl stitches to get started. If you like, you can learn and add more advanced and unusual stitches later.

3. Putting it all together: Once you have your small motifs made, what do you do with them? The motifs should then be sewn together, usually following a garment template. An easy way to start out is to make a triangular form from butcher's paper for a shawl and then pin the scrumbles to the paper so you can see your shawl take shape. Then join the motifs to each other by either sewing them with mattress or whip stitches or use crochet chains or slip stitches to make one complete piece. After your shawl is complete, move on to something a bit more complicated by cutting a sweatshirt up the front and cut off the ribbing from the wrists, waist and neckline for a "cardigan" shape and follow the same concept as the shawl to make your garment.

4. Resources: There are lots of books and websites to help you on your freeform journey. The International Freeform Crochet Guild ( is a great place to find other freeform artists and information. You can also check out the websites of great freeform artists like Prudence Mapstone (, Margaret Hubert (www.margarethubertoriginals) and Myra Wood ( for both inspiration and further assistance with getting started in freeform.

Now that you have the tools to get started, grab some yarn, your crochet hook or knitting needles and take your yarn for a walk!

page created by Frances Osborne Austin TX