Crochet helps me be a crafty mom

i love crochet

I am a hopeless crochet addict these days.  I average over 4 skeins (balls) of yarn a week.  I have crochet hooks and yarn stashed around the house and in the car, just in case I have a few extra minutes on my hands.

I am convinced that having a crafty or creative outlet is part of what all women need to maintain our sanity and our sense of self.

If you’ve been following me for long, you probably remember that crochet helped pulled me out of the deep pit of depression and start me on my journey to becoming ThisHappyMom.  It even helped save me the day I felted my hair.  But I haven’t always felt that way.

The first time I tried to crochet was way back in the seventies.  It was the era of psychedelic acrylic yarn, the kind of stuff that gave crochet a bad name.  I’ve thoughtfully included some photos of my own work for you to make fun of (I did).

I’m talking about the full unnatural palette of peptic pink, neon green, day glow orange, and loaded diaper brown.

The afghans of the day practically glowed in the dark.  The only thing more unnatural than the colors was the yarn its self.  Itchy, stiff, thick acrylic that gave you rope burn.

I’m left handed.  Combined with the impatience of youth (I was in elementary school), that makes it hard to learn crochet.  I contented myself with using a finger to make a long daisy chain and with finger weaving.  I dreamed of making the curly bouncy ribbons like other girls wore in their hair.  (Does anyone else remember finger weaving?  Or those curly bouncy ribbons?)

unnatural color combos in crochet

do those colors even show up on a color wheel?

Fast forward to the eighties.  It was college.  In my naiveté, I decided to make a sweater for my boyfriend.  After trying to teach myself to knit (it was a failure), I decided to try crochet again.

I reasoned crochet had half as many needles as knitting, so it could only be half as hard.

I bought a sweater pattern book and a big book of granny square patterns to practice on.  I bought several pounds of generic looking cheap yarn, and settled down over Christmas break to make a sweater for the man of my dreams (or rather, the man of the moment).  I failed at the sweater making, but did manage to figure out the basics of crochet.

At first, all I could manage was a giant (three foot) granny square.  Then I mastered a few dozen variations of granny squares, all assembled together into a bumpy afghan.    I learned that mile-a-minute afghans only work if you have a consistent gauge to your work and can actually count.

(drinking and crochet probably should not go together)

tiny crochet pieces

1000 hours later, i’m afraid to let anyone use it!

I learned that creating 100 little squares (or octagons) takes far less time than sewing the silly things together (did I mention I’m impatient?).  I learned that making a king-sized afghan with two strands of worsted weight yarn will yield something too heavy to lift, much less sleep under. (sorry sis!)  And, I discovered that acrylic gives me heat rash in the heat of a Texas summer.  But, for several years I found joy in crocheting small (pathetic, ugly, itchy) afghans during the winter.

giant crochet granny square combo

i think this granny square afghan would give me nightmares!

The problem was that I didn’t know anyone that wanted my creations.  (thank goodness!) None of my friends had children, so there was little opportunity to give away doll sized or baby blanket sized afghans.  (none of them collected ugly textiles either).

So I stashed away my yarn for much of the nineties and moved on to other crafts.

Fifteen years later, I did manage to make a small blanket to honor the birth of each of my children.  I even attempted a hat.  It was a ridiculously hard hat pattern made from several pieces that were assembled together.  It took hours!

My son wore it once as an infant and managed to stain it with something acrylic brown in color.

I stick to smaller projects these days.  I work on things I can finish in an hour or less, and things that are durable enough to survive two boys.  (Hmmm, I owe you photo evidence of cute crochet don’t I?)

Do you have a crafty outlet to cling to when things get crazy?  How has motherhood changed how you craft?

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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Comments

  1. I have always liked to do crafts that were more time consuming so I could just sit on the couch and work on them in a leisurely manner. I used to crochet doilies. Then I did cross stitch but I found that stressful because I always messed up somehow – no matter how careful I was. Then I discovered quilting. I choose (or create) simple patterns that I can sew together quickly. Then I spend my time on hand quilting. It usually takes me several months for a smaller quilt and 6 to 9 months for a larger quilt. I work a little bit most evenings and eventually it’s done. It’s really relaxing!

    Good job on the crocheting. My mom is a leftie, too, and she complains all the time about how much harder it is when you’re a leftie. She’s an avid crocheter and taught me how.

    • crafting as a leftie generally adds an extra challenge or two.

      i made a doily or two when my eyes were younger. i’m not sure i could do them right now unless i had some really good light. i need crafts that are portable and easy to start and stop, so i stick with patterns i can memorize.

      counted cross stitch… sigh. i remember spending hours on a project only to realize i’d messed up one little square and thrown the whole pattern off. it was maddening. i still have all my supplies and patterns, but i’m not sure i’ll ever go back to it.

      i love quilts. if i could ever find a left handed sewing machine i might enjoy sewing more. hand quilting is beautiful, and i agree it makes prettier quilts. doesn’t your lap get hot? i remember my grandmother said she couldn’t quilt in the summer, but that the summer light was perfect for piecework. is that true?

      i think the key is to keep trying until you find a craft that fits your season in life and that you can relax with.

  2. So funny! I do know how to crochet – but the counting requires too much patience. My creative outlet is making Shutterfly books for people. I can do that and watch TV at the same time – a critical element of any hobby for me. I have managed to complete scarves for myself and all my men. But they won’t wear them. :-)

    • i tend to work crochet patterns that require no counting after the first 5 minutes of the project. it works for me.

      i wish i’d known you like to make shutterfly books for people, i would have asked you to make mine!

  3. The closest I come to crocheting is buying something from etsy. lol. I do take a paper and pen or ipad with me everywhere I go in case I get a few minutes extra to write lists. Sad, but true, list making is my creative outlet.

    • list making can be fun. i love making lists of stuff for other people to do. does that count?

      i’d love to see a few lists on your blog. :)

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