How to Crochet Like Olek

And why you should give it a whirl

Leslie Stahlhut
Jun 2, 2019 · 5 min read
A panel crocheted in the style of Olek. This panel can be used in yarn bombing.
A panel crocheted in the style of Olek. This panel can be used in yarn bombing.

If you are not familiar with the work of the crocheter known as Olek, the best way I know how to describe it is to say that it is like crocheting out loud. It is not a quiet and reserved doily, it is not an unobtrusive scarf. It is big, it is bold, and it is often pink.

For the most part Olek’s work is an assemblage of the pieces that others have made under her direction, and those pieces are used to form art that is much larger than the sum of its parts.

I have a bazillion things to do, and that is a conservative estimate.

We are in the process of buying a house 1747 miles away from where we currently live. We have no immediate plans to leave North Carolina, but we are buying the house anyway.

The fact that we have not made any plans to leave North Carolina does not mean that we don’t need to sell the house we live in, we just aren’t doing that first.

Life decisions loom. There is a lot to be done.

And it is state fair season.

I am supposed to be working on a crochet afghan commemorating the life of my paternal grandmother. She died in 1948, and I was not born for another 12 years. This afghan is, in no small part, my attempt to introduce myself to and get to know this woman I never met and without whom would not exist.

I started work on the project just over two years earlier on August, 1, 2015.

That year, I failed to finish it in time for the 2015 North Carolina State Fair. The next year, I failed to finish it in time for the 2016 North Carolina State Fair. At this point, I still believe I am going to finish it in time for the 2017 North Carolina State Fair.

Like the previous two years, I am wrong.

It is the summer of 2017, Olek is coming to town. She is coming to town, and she is holding a series of crochet workshops.

I know that if I am going to finish my state fair piece, I should not sign up for the crochet workshop. I sign up anyway.

One, I think it will be interesting.

Two, I want to learn how Olek does what she does so that should the opportunity arise, I will have the technique in my crochet toolkit.

I go to the workshop; I learn the technique; I don’t finish my 2017 North Carolina State Fair project.

But now I know everything I need to know if I ever have a message I want to get across or a fence or car I want to wrap in yarn, and the new house has the perfect fence.

The technique used is pretty simple. You make a graph of the design you want to create in crochet, and then you crochet it.

For my own “crochet mural designs,” I work in 12" x 12" squares. I selected this size because of the size of my fence and the fact that a 12" x 12" square is more manageable than a 24" x 24" square. Also keeping the squares smaller means that any wonkiness caused by gauge discrepancies will not be as problematic.

To get the general idea of how the technique works, you can start with a 6-inch x 6-inch swatch.

You will need the following:

Worsted weight yarn in the color of your choice (the brighter the better)

A 4.5 mm crochet hook

An idea you want to share

Like many crochet projects, it starts with a chain. Twenty to be precise:

Chain 20 for the foundation of the panel
Chain 20 for the foundation of the panel
Chain 20

Next you work a double crochet, into the BACK LOOP ONLY of the chain NEAREST the hook:

Yarn over and Insert the hook through the back loop only of the chain nearest the hook
Yarn over and Insert the hook through the back loop only of the chain nearest the hook
The hook, with a yarn over, inserted through the back loop only of the chain nearest the hook

Then you work the 19 remaining chains just as you did the first one, and before you know it, your first row will be done:

The the first row of double crochet (dc) stitches worked through the back loop only (blo) of the foundation chain
The the first row of double crochet (dc) stitches worked through the back loop only (blo) of the foundation chain
The first row of the practice/test swatch

Then you make a counter clockwise turn with your swatch(the opposite of turning a page), which puts the yarn in front of the row you are about to crochet:

Make a counter clockwise turn if you crochet right-handed; make a clockwise turn if you crochet left-handed.
Make a counter clockwise turn if you crochet right-handed; make a clockwise turn if you crochet left-handed.

Next, you draw up the loop, and working through both loops of the stitches of the first row:

Without making a chain, yarn over, and insert the hook under both loops of the first stitch of the row.
Without making a chain, yarn over, and insert the hook under both loops of the first stitch of the row.

you make a double crochet in each stitch all the way across the row.

Repeat the second row until you have twelve rows. Fasten off.

By now you should have something that looks a lot like the first photo in this post.

I think the more salient question is “why not crochet a yarn bomb?”

Pros:   The pieces of a yarn bomb are portable   Acrylic yarn is inexpensive and doesn’t stain your hands or 
clothes
You don’t need solvents to clean up You can work on it while waiting at the dentist’s office in a
carpool line, or anywhere else you might find yourself having
to wait
Cons: I can't think of any

And even if you don’t think you have anything to say with your crochet, you just might find that with a hook in your hand and some yarn at your side, you will find your voice.

Free Crochet Patterns and Tutorials

Crochet patterns and tutorials to teach you the skills you need to make your own amazing things.

Leslie Stahlhut

Written by

Crocheter on a mission to make the world a better place — one stitch at a time. Twitter: @crochetbug. Crochet blog: https://www.crochetbug.com

Free Crochet Patterns and Tutorials

Crochet patterns and tutorials to teach you the skills you need to make your own amazing things.

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