I love the process of crochet, and seeing my creations emerge from a heap of yarn and hours of patient endeavor. But I can’t deny that some projects have tedious sections I’d rather skip past. So is there a crochet machine for home use, which I can use to speed the boring bits up, and free up more of my time for the fun details? Alas not – no machine exists, either for home or commercial use, which replicates crochet.
Is There a Crochet Machine for Home Use?
It’s pretty common knowledge that fully automated knitting machines exist – they’re responsible for all the sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, socks etc we buy in stores. And knitting can be replicated by machines, so crochet can as well, right?
Wrong! Crocheting machines do not exist. Currently, no machine can replicate the action of making crochet. Specifically, no one has succeeded in mechanizing the motion of creating transverse chains – the foundation stone of crochet. So crochet remains one of the few crafts that can only be done by hand. And every item of crochet you see has been handmade by someone, somewhere.
The Unduplicatable Magic of Crochet
Crocheting is a naturally free-flowing technique that has remained pretty unchanged for at least 200 years. Stitches and techniques vary in complexity, but can only ever be done using the hands. According to Gail Kenning at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, crochet patterns are naturally organic, and crochet stitches are impossible to manipulate mechanically. The complexity involved in making crochet stitches so far prevented the invention of crochet machines, despite technological advancements and mechanization of so many other handicrafts.
Can Warp Knitting Machines Be Categorized as Crochet Machines?
Machines specifically for replicating crochet do not exist, but there’s a bit of confusion surrounding warp knitting machines. To understand where they sit, it helps to understand what the two types of knitting machine are, and how they differ.
- Weft knitting machines produce knitted fabrics in horizontal rows, one stitch at a time (albeit in very quick succession!)
- Warp knitting machines produce knitted fabrics in vertical columns, and every stitch in each horizontal row is made simultaneously.
The construction of fabrics from warp knitting machines somewhat resembles crochet. The machines use hooked needles to work each row of knitting, and the vertical stitches are somewhat similar to the chains in crocheted material. Hence why warp knitting machines are sometimes referred to as crochet warp knitting machines. The clothing industry also regards warp knitting as the closest mechanical equivalent to hand crochet.
However, warp knitting machines do not produce crochet in the true sense, and they cannot replicate the complexity of the crochet stitches beyond a simple chain – such as single and double crochets. This means they can’t produce any of the classic crochet textiles such as granny squares, intricate afghans, or cute amigurumi plushies.
But they have contributed to some confusion about whether crocheting machines exist, and have probably been responsible for a few high hopes and bitter disappointments for people wanting a crochet machine for Christmas!
Will There Ever Be A Crochet Machine?
Although we do not currently have crocheting machines, it doesn’t necessarily mean there will never be one. The textile industry is continually searching for ways to make mass production of crocheted clothes quicker and more economical. However, with sophisticated knitting machines already well-established, and plenty of cheap labor available around the world to produce some crochet when needed, it’s hard to know how much of a priority developing a crochet machine really is.
Crochet also uses more yarn than knitting to produce the same area of fabric. So it’s unlikely that a method of textile production which costs more in raw materials will ever be as commercially competitive or sought after as knitting machines.
How Can You Crochet Faster?
The fact that you’re interested in finding a crocheting machine means you are probably tired of your crochet taking so long, or struggling to make headway with the number of projects on your to-do list. Unfortunately, you can never be as fast as a machine, but there are ways to increase your crocheting speed.
- Use a sturdy crochet hook
- Check your hooks
- Choose bulkier yarns
- Crochet like and athlete
- Work in clear, bright light
1. Use a sturdy crochet hook
It’s easy to say that a poor workman blames his tools, but in this case, a good quality crochet hook really does make all the difference. Hooks made from cheap materials are more like to flex, slowing you down. Look for strong hooks with features like ergonomic handles or rubberized grips. If you get cramp or joint pain using smaller hook sizes, look for hook grips or needle huggers to increase the diameter of the handle.
2. Check your hooks
Check your hook before you get to work – wooden and bamboo hooks with splinters are miserable to work with, and snag in the fibers of your yarn, slowing you down and spoiling the quality of your finished piece. If damaged hooks can’t be repaired, thank them for their service and replace them pronto!
3. Choose bulkier yarns
You can always speed up the crocheting process by using bulkier yarns. Bulky yarns need fewer stitches to produce the same area of fabric, so projects work up quicker. Additionally, bulky yarns allow users to give their projects unique charm by creating great stitch definition. You can make a subtle change – for example switching dk yarn for aran yarn, which is only slightly bulkier. Or you can make a big change, and try some projects in truly chunky yarns.
4. Crochet like an athlete
Crocheting with some music on will help you tremendously. Studies have shown that syncing to the tempo of the music while crocheting can give you amazing outcomes. Pick your favorite song and use it to blast through your projects. Or experiment with a few different genres of music and see which ones really help you along.
5. Work in clear, bright light
Crocheting in a dark room will make a simple project difficult to finish. Crocheting in the light allows you to see the stitches and loops better. It also prevents you from making simple mistakes that might interfere with the appearance of the entire project.
Is There A Crochet Machine For Home Use – Summary
At the moment, there are no machines which can replicate crochet either for home use, or even in commercial manufacturing. This is attributed to the fact that crochet stitches are complex, and no machine can mimic what is normally done by hand. So, every crochet item you use is handmade, by someone!
This means there’s no fast forward option for large areas of boring crochet, like the back panel of a sweater, but the results you achieving by powering through it anyway are extra special.
What’s the first thing you would make on a crochet machine?
Would you like it to replicate the next 99 squares of a granny blanket, once you’ve had fun designing the first one? Or would you use it to speed up the creation of wearables, like hats, scarves and sweaters? Let us know in the comments box down below!
References and Further Reading
- Grimmelsmann et al (2019). The largest crocheting machine in the world. Melliand International.
- Kenning, G. (2008). Crochet Lace as Expression of Digital Culture. Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings.
- Thomas, A. (2020). The Collection of the Knitting & Crochet Guild of the UK: A Critical Review of Its Usages. Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice.