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?)
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)
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.
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?