teapot1

teapot1

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Hook and I


TheHook and I: How I Became a Crocheter
(in honor of National Crochet Month)

 

During the summer of 2011 I decided to teach myself to crochet. Now, I’ve never considered myself to be a “crafty” person. Oh, I’d loved doing arts and crafts as a child, but when I grew up I decided I had no talent for it. Around college age a friend taught me to knit. I started off enthusiastically, attempting to do a sweater (really) for my first project. As I remember, I actually finished the back panel, but then inertia (and pain in my shoulders and back) set in, and I never finished it. That was the extent of my needlecraft for about forty years.

 

I began to find myself attracted to crochet. Maybe it was the lacy, delicate patterns. Maybe it was my fascination with how it could be done with only one hook. Maybe it was the notion that it would be less physically straining. Even so, it still took a while for the creative desire and the actual motivation to finally collide. When my mother was in rehab after her hip surgery, I began to notice that some patients there had beautiful afghans and quilts for their beds. Others didn’t. And I began to think idly, someone who knew how to crochet could make blankets for them. That’s when the lightbulb went on. Hey, I can learn to do that!

 

I didn’t have anyone to teach me this time. No one I knew, at least close by, was a crocheter. I seemed to remember that my mother had talked about doing it when she was a girl, but now, stricken with dementia as she was, I couldn’t turn to her as a resource. So I did what I always do: I looked for books. In the course of that, I found a lot online—lessons, tutorials, diagrams, super-easy patterns. I decided to start with the easiest thing possible: a single-crochet dishcloth. Just a square. Just row after row of one stitch. What could be easier, right?

 

I printed out a pattern and enlisted my knitting friend to take me to her favorite yarn shop, where I picked out my first skein of yarn, a soft, blue cotton, and the proper size hook. I went back online and looked up tutorials: how to make a starting chain. How to do the single-crochet stitch. I sat in front of the computer practicing the slip knot, the chain stitch.

 

And how did I make out? Here’s my first try at a dishcloth. Don’t laugh.

 

 

            Okay, laugh. But it taught me something. It showed me I didn’t know how to count stitches and handle the turning chains. I was adding stitches to each row without realizing it. Clearly it was much easier to count stitches in knitting than in crochet. But I was not discouraged! I just knew I needed more learning and more practice. I went to my local yarn shop for some pointers. Several dishcloths later I was doing much better.

 

 

 

 

(But I still use the hourglass cloth--it’s nice and thick and the single crochet makes it effective and durable.)

 

In the meantime I picked up several more projects--scarves, fingerless gloves, a capelet.

 

 

I was surprising myself with how much I enjoyed this craft. I tried to learn something new with each project. By that Christmas my mother was in assisted living, and I found the opportunity to return to my original intention: I decided to make a Christmas-themed lap throw to donate to the memory unit.

 
And here it is: my first ripple afghan. It was very gratifying to see it covering and warming a resident in her or his chair.

 

 

 

I’ve been happily crocheting now for a year and a half. I think I’ve come a long way, but I know I have much more to learn, and I’m looking forward to it. It’s the wonderful kind of hobby that you can keep on learning and improving at. I expect to be a crocheter for many more years. So maybe I really am a “crafty” person after all!

 

 

21 comments:

  1. My Aunt taught me to crochet when I was 10, but I didn't really do anything except little squares and an itty, bitty doily. Then in my 20's I decided to make a baby afghan before my niece was born. She is approaching 40 years old and tells me she still has her baby afghan. :-) I did only 2 or 3 afghans in my life because yarn is hot to work with in Florida. I prefer working with cotton thread. I made one big tablecloth and several doilies. I still haven't made that one big bedspread that I've always wanted to make. My Aunt crocheted a bedspread and it is quite impressive covering a blanket of whatever color happened to please her at the moment. Maybe I'll find the ambition to get around to that bedspread...

    Crocheting afghans for the nursing home patients is a wonderful idea. You are sweet to do that for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Darlene, how wonderful to know that you niece still has her baby afghan! You must have done a terrific job on it. I'm not always crazy about working with yarn when it's really hot here, either. It's a good time for using cotton. In fact, this summer I'm planning to make a lot of granny squares for a possible afghan. Did you consider doing that for your bedspread? That would break the project into smaller pieces and make it less intimidating. Let us know if you do it! Thanks for reading and the comments.

      Delete
    2. The granny squares is a very good idea. I never did granny squares in cotton thread. It should be interesting. The tablecloth was one big piece. It was round like a doily, but about 5-6 feet in diameter. I was so sick of it when I was done that I was happy to give it away. The Aunt I gave it to passed away several years ago. I wondered if someone in the family kept it or did it end up at Salvation Army in a bin? LOL

      Delete
  2. It looks like you improved with practice. Don't worry, I once made a shirt with a neckline that wasn't centered.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! That makes me feel better, Joyce. Yes, a lot of practice definitely helps. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Claudia, and thanks for reading.

      Delete
  4. Your enthusiasm and determination have driven you to learn a new skill. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Francene. I'm not always a stick-to-it type of person, so I surprised myself a little by wanting to keep on going and learning. It's been rewarding. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Delete
  5. It's so impressive that you taught yourself Elaine. My mother loved to crotchet and there are many, many afghans throughout the family done by her. Your projects look great and I know how much enjoyment you get out of it. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amy, how nice for your family to have afghans made by your mom to remember her by! I have one crocheted and another knitted by two of my aunts, and I cherish them. Thanks for the complimentary words!

      Delete
  6. Awesome. I taught myself to crochet when I was 10 and have loved doing it ever since. We have a lot in common.

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow,Kathy, you taught yourself when you were 10? That's amazing. Good for you! You've had a lifetime of pleasure from it. Thanks for reading and the comment.

      Delete
  7. Looks a whole lot nicer than anything I could do. I had a great aunt who tried to teach me to knit and crohet when I was around 8-10 but never got the hang of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Linda. You could try it again now--maybe you'd find it easier!

      Delete
  8. I have toyed with learning to knit or crochet, but I don't think I have the patience. But your post makes me want to try. Maybe there are washcloths in my future....maybe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tamara, starting off with a simple dishcloth is the smart way to do it. I find crocheting relaxing and peaceful--although it can get boring when you're in the middle of a project and doing the same stitches over and over. That's when I get a little impatient. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  9. What a beautiful Christmas ripple afghan. I think ripple blankets are my favorite to make.

    Have you joined Ravelry? It's free and has TONS of free crochet (and knitting) patterns.

    Stefani @ Dreams of Nyssa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Stefani, thanks for stopping by. I am on Ravelry, but I haven't spent enough time there yet to fully take advantage of everything. I hope to be able to soon! Thanks so much for your nice comments.

      Delete
  10. Oh, Elaine, you should have seen some of my first tries. New definitions of wide and narrow, for sure. I'm so glad you decided to crochet. We can use all the hookers we can get!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Did you consider trading with the ultimate Bitcoin exchange company: YoBit.

    ReplyDelete