Blue Felted Flower by Donna Walker – pattern is here:
Donna Walker is an amazingly talented artist; crochet being only one of the many mediums in which she works. See some of her works of art on her blog, Walker’s Whimsies. She is the administrator on one of my facebook groups, Freeform Crochet World Group (the brainchild of Marina Hoffstrom ; you can find freeform tutorials on her blog, Snovej Food & Craft Adventures.) The facebook group is a large one, with new folks joining every day (freeform is the latest ‘hot’ item in crochet, for sure!). At least once a week, someone asks for a definition of freeform. We all have our own ideas, but Donna took the time to research and write up the following article for the group. It definitely bears repeating:
Defining Freeform Crochet By Donna Walker
There are many opinions on this, and for many this is a topic for discussion. Many times it has been said that there are no rules in freeform, but I think perhaps, that is an oversimplification of the complexity that is freeform crochet. So first I am going to set some general guidelines for a few of the other types of crochet.
This is usually worked in rounds or rows, even and symmetrical, or geometric. It may be assembled from pieces sewn or crocheted together. Used for generations to make clothes, and household items. Thousands of patterns and ideas fit this classification. There are many thousands of combinations of stitch patterns also. There are many patterns available for traditional projects. It often utilizes color changes to create a specific appearance. It can be done with or with out a pattern.
This usually refers to projects made from many motifs, matching or similar ones, all connected with a crocheted mesh. It often includes many small circle or button type motifs, and/or Cluny’s knots in the mesh. Many think of this as the original free form.I would consider it as a type of lace crochet. Traditionally this was done with 2-3 sizes of white thread. Many of the motifs are floral in nature but not all. The crochet mesh seems to be one of the defining features.
This is crocheted lacy strips made on a hairpin lace tool. The strips are assembled in rows, but are attached in many different ways, to create different patterns in the lace. Originally done with small thread on a Ladies Hairpin.
This refers to a specific stitch pattern that is used to create a symmetrical pattern of squares, it also often utilizes color changes to accomplish a specific appearance.
Fair Aisle, Intarsia, Tapestry crochet and stranded color work
All refer to projects that use the same stitch through out, with color changes done by changing yarn on a specific stitch. This creates patterns or pictures in the piece, and is usually worked from a chart. The different terms relate to how you accomplish the yarn change and whether or not you carry all the yarns with you as you go.
Embellished Crochet, freehand, freestyle
These are traditionally created pieces, that have surface embellishments added. for example a crocheted vest, with either slipstitch/embroidery or appliqued flowers or spirals tacked to the top. These are still traditional crochet. Many of the purses we see here on this page have a traditional side and a freeform side, and some are only embellished. This doesn’t make them less artful, just created differently. Most of these have a pattern or are based on a previously used pattern.
Freeform Crochet first appeared to my knowledge in the 1970’s and is fairly new on the scene. It is very organic, and improvisational in nature. It is created from small scrumbles /scumbles, some think of these as motifs, however they are not always motifs that would work in another method that utilizes motifs. The scrumbles/ scumbles are created by using multiple different yarns, stitch patterns and colors, all with in a small area. They can be clashing or coordinating yarns, colors, or patterns. These pieces are the part where the ‘No rules’ comes into play. There is no wrong or right in creating these pieces, they are not usually matching in color or design. Part of the idea is to use your own imagination to make something never made before. It can be more sculptural in nature, or lay flat, as the artist prefers.
Although there are some patterns out there, many of them were developed for Lace or Irish crochet and borrowed to use in free form. Freeform is intended to be textural, and should be irregular in shapes and sizes of the pieces.
The scumbles/ scrumbles are attached by sewing, crocheting, or embroidering them. They may be attached in multiple different ways with in the same finished project. The pieces are “puzzled” together, laying them out, turning this way and that , to create another layer of color, contrast or texture to the piece. Since the shapes should be different in size shape and color, it is often like putting together a puzzle. James Walters referred to it as an “organic patchwork”.
Prudence Mapstone said, ” I think anything can be created freeform. It’s hard to find unambiguous words, but to me the concept would be that anything created in a freeform manner would be non-repetitious and would generally have quite an organic feel, with each element following on from the previous part with no obvious plan in mind.” Everything should flow together. 🙂
Freeform is not the correct term for everything you make with out a pattern. Many of these would be more appropriately termed freehand or freestyle perhaps, but I think what they are usually, Is brand new patterns in the other categories of crochet. The creators of these that sometimes seem offended that they are not thought of as freeform, have failed to realize they are now the designers of a whole new generation of traditional crochet patterns. They are artists in their own right, just different than the free form artists.
These are quite simply put, pieces that combine more than one of these techniques to create some thing. For example a traditional garment with a free formed collar, or a freeformed garment with a crochet rib collar. They may or may not have a pattern. or an afghan that incorporates traditional blocks with more organic shapes or scrumbles/scumbles that have been joined, or filled in to create a shape that fits the spot.
Mixed Media,and/or Fibre Art pieces
This is my favorite category. These can incorporate any and all skills that the artist has or wishes to utilize. Crochet, knitting, weaving , tattiing, lacemaking, felting, sewing, lace making, beading, painting, dyeing, fabric manipulation, surface embellishments, could be or are utilized to create the artists vision. Supplies used can vary as much as the technique. These can be assembled in many different ways.
They can be pictorial, organic or abstract.
I hope this addresses some of the confusion. This is not intended to include every possible scenario, or to be a “Rulebook”. It is intended to give some structure to the ongoing discussions. This will be added to Freeform Crochet World Group’s files, and I don’t mind if any one wants to share it. However, please leave my name in the text of the article.”