Surprise and wonderment.
That was how I felt when I finished my first ever crochet project at twelve-years old. My crochet mentor, Patricia Maycock, was an older woman from my church, and it was through her influence that I was propelled into the world of crochet.
Every Sunday afternoon, I diligently went to her house for about two hours to crochet. She didn’t start with simple swatches, rather she introduced me to the basics and complexities of crochet through a shawl with many different stitch types and intricate layouts. I still have that shawl, and although I never wore it outside my house, it stands as my first crochet project and a reminder of the woman who taught me.
After finishing that shawl I was excited about crochet and what I could make. What else could I make for myself? How else could I apply this newfound skill?
As the years went on, I crocheted the same things using similar patterns and grew somewhat bored. Why should I keep crocheting if I'm just going to keep making the same thing with the same basic patterns?
For a graduate school project, I thought I could maybe I could rekindle my love for crochet by designing a new process for crochet. I went about it in several different ways before settling on a randomized pattern generator.
When I made my first randomly generated crochet piece, I had made something that I had never seen before, a dynamic crochet piece without another attached part. It could rotate or swivel in itself. With this first piece, my excitement for crochet grew all over again.
Questions similar to before propelled me to move forward with crochet and design. How many other patterns were in the generator? What kind of forms could it output? And what applications could those forms inspire? Even more, what else could crochet do?
For the first time, I thought, maybe crochet could go beyond scarves, sweaters, and hats. Maybe it could be architectural in the form of furniture or lighting. Maybe it could bring new forms to tried and true applications like jewelry. Perhaps other materials could be brought into crochet, things like plastics or rope. How could scale play a role? The possibilities were endless, and I couldn’t wait to find more.
Generative Crochet has been an incredible outlet for me to explore another side of crochet, and after finishing my master's thesis on it, I worked to share it with others, both makers and designers alike, who have an appreciation for making through play.
The generator is open source, available for people to use and experiment on, or just generate new patterns. The pieces I design all use the generator as its source and have a story of failed and successful experiments that lead to its “final-ish” product.
So to any who are interested, welcome, and I hope you find delight in the work and are inspired to keep playing in your own craft.