Freeform crochet is tossing out any pattern and creating your own design. Your technique may not include orderly rows or repeated textures. It may result in a work of art rather than a usable item. It may also be known as patternless crochet.
Freeform crochet creations can be two-dimensional like a painting, or three-dimensional like a sculpture. You are expressing your inner artist with the crochet hook instead of a paintbrush, and yarn instead of canvas.
It's a technique that allows the crocheter to explore the creative and artistic possibilities of the craft in unexpected ways.
Traditional Crochet Compared with Freeform Crochet
Traditional crochet is typically orderly; you'd expect it to be worked in well-organized rounds or rows. You could expect to work from a pattern, and the end result would be a useful project. You end up with a hat, an afghan, or a scarf.
The freeform crocheter can toss any or all of those expectations out the window. Forget the pattern. You'll make it up as you go along. Forget the orderly rounds and rows. You are free to draw up a loop in any spot you choose, helter-skelter. Traditional crochet is paint-by-numbers while freeform crochet is starting with a blank canvas and only your own creativity.
The end result of these efforts might, or might not, turn out to be a functional project, depending on the designer's vision.
It is fantastic if a useable project is created in the process, but it is also acceptable if the resulting object is completely useless.
Scrumbling in Freeform Crochet
Scrumbling means to crochet several different pieces, often with different colors, textures, and stitches, and then join them together to create a usable object or an artwork.
One worksheet from Sylvia Cosh and James Walters suggests crocheting a variety of organically shaped, textured pieces and joining them together to create a fabric. You can then use this fabric to make items or to fashion into a crocheted sculpture. This patchwork approach is a great way to use up leftover bits of yarn while unleashing your creative side. Scrumble can be used as either a noun or a verb, with scrumbles as the plural.
Is Freeform Crochet Art Rather than Craft?
There is an age-old debate about where to draw the line between art and craft. Some will argue that crochet could never be art, but the freeform crocheter would likely disagree. Freeform crochet could be compared to sculpting with yarn. If sculpture is art, then so is freeform crochet. Fiber arts have been gaining more validation and freeform crochet takes its place among them.
Notable Freeform Crochet Designers
- Sylvia Cosh and James Walters: The duo authored several crochet books and taught workshops around the world.
- Prudence Mapstone: Knotjustknitting: She combines both knitting and crochet into scrumbles and joins them together to produce unique fabric and garments. She has written several books.
- Myra Wood: Fiber artist and teacher, she has online classes and books on freeform crochet.
- Del Pitt Feldman: Sculptor turned crochet artist and author of crochet books.