Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Crochet Cincture

For quite awhile I've wanted a way to make cinctures by hand. Are they just rope? Is that how it was done historically? I think I finally found an, if not the, answer in crochet rope.  

Evidence to it being more traditional is there's a group of nuns in India producing cinctures in this style. 
They are available at this site: http://catholicliturgicals.com 
They are available at other sites as well. This is just the first one that comes up in my web search. 

These nuns are why I probably won't ever try selling cinctures. Being nuns, their labor costs are low, and being in India, the silk is cheap.  For me? I haven't touched silk yet ever due to costs. And I know I'm slow and inexperianced, but I can't imagine getting the labor costs low enough even if I only charged minimum wage (most craft sites suggest charging $10 per hour).  I created about 5.5 inches per 30 minutes. At 157 inches, that's....too much.

But it was tons of fun to do, and I'm glad to be able to keep my priest friends well vested as best I can. I'm very happy that the white cincture below is now being used. I'm really curious how long it will last.

My first attempt is this purple shown here:

The yarn is 100% rayon which I picked up for $1 a skein at a yard sale.  It went okay and I made about 20-30 inches over the course of a week. Then I realized I'd killed my wrists with these little movements they weren't used to and had to set it aside for awhile.

All the while, I was bothered that while it looked okay, it wasn't doing the distinctive spiral I'd seen in the videos. Which, by the way, I won't be giving a tutorial here. I will say it is only single stitch. That's it. I'm horrible at crochet. I can never get the tension right and I only know single and double stitch. I'd actually given away my hooks because I wanted to be sure I'd never be tempted to try the craft again. Yet I was able to do this project. 

Go to YouTube and search for "crochet rope". You should get 3 or 4 videos. Watch them all. Even the ones not in English as the visuals are very helpful. Watch them in slow motion as you make your first attempts. Starting the project is tricky but you'll get it. 

(side note: for the love of sanity do not use stitch markers. No offence to that lady but seriously, I don't know why she was doing that. The project just goes round and round. Once you're past row 3 or 4 you will never care again what row you're on. And for rows 1-3 I think it's pretty clear where you're working. Using markers just looks like a painful waste of time.)

Since my pastor was needing a white cincture, I started a second one even though the purple was far from finished. (Totally out of character to have multiple projects going.  Really. Never happens. Don't look at my shelf. or loom. or closet. Nope, just one at a time for me!) When the white turned out better I abandoned the purple. (that also never happens, nope)

On this one I somehow managed to get the spiral going.  I just kept trying random stitches until I got the "floating" stitch or whatever it is people call it. You'll know what I mean when you look up tutorials. but ya, just keep stabbing at random ones until it makes sense. Once the spiral starts to form there's an easily found horizontal stitch running between the ribs of the spiral. You just aim your hook there and off you go! The trick at that point is putting the project down, haha.  It's so addictive to do just one more stitch, just stitch stitch stitch. It's so fun!

This cincture is polyester with the gold color pre-integrated. I chose this because of the gold which my pastor preferred over solid white. I'm thinking for a future one I will try to stitch gold thread in at the same time. That way I could use a nicer yarn. I generally dislike polyester in liturgical use, but in this application it doesn't seem too bad.

In a future post I'll share how I did the tassels. That took me forever to find as well, but again, they're super easy to make.

The biggest challenge to this project was simply it's length. The tutorials mention using this stitch for purse straps. Yeah, at that length it's not so bad and you could finish even long ones in a week easily. A cincture is 3 to 4 times as long, so, well, 3 to 4 times as long to finish. And the twist, urg. Near the end it felt as though I was spending as much time straightening the project back out as I did stitching.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section, or post your successful projects, or suggestions.
Happy stitching!

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