Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Early Days...

I was looking for a hook for the project I'm working on right now and found the one my grandmother gave me when she first taught me how to crochet. It made me think about how I started crocheting and how it's now a major part of my life.

My grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was 9 or 10 years old. That was a transition period in my life - I had just moved to a new school and a new town, leaving behind a group of friends I would never forget. I hated it at first. Looking back, I feel very sorry for my mother - she was just trying to make sure that she did what was best for her kids and I did not make it easy for her in the beginning. Eventually, I made new friends and spent a lot of time hanging out with my brother and sister, running around my grandparent's yard like a maniac. Sometimes I think my grandmother decided to teach me how to crochet to get me to sit still for a little while and because I would be the easiest to convince to take the time to learn. Plus I was curious - I wanted to know how she made that cool blanket for my baby cousin.

She taught me how to chain and that was about it, except for one terrible attempt (my fault) at the single crochet stitch. But I was good at making chains and spent a year creating this massive crochet chain. My best friend and I were trying to make the longest one in the world and then we were going to be interviewed on Nickelodeon about it. It was going to be awesome ... until we gave up or something like that. Then I stopped crocheting for eight years.

So fast forward eight years and I'm a high school senior getting ready to graduate and head off for college. A couple of weeks before graduation, I was at my dad's house and digging around in a dresser drawer when I found an old project I had apparently hidden. It was an attempt at a scarf for my grandfather and I think it's the reason I gave up on the single stitch. I couldn't figure out how to stop the scarf from getting narrower as I worked on it, so I got frustrated and gave up. As I was looking at the pitiful scarf, I started to remember how much fun I had crocheting when I was younger and I decided I would try to do it again. I spent the afternoon pulling stitches out and trying to recreate them until I figured out how to do the single crochet again. I still had a few kinks to work out (I didn't know that then), but I had chosen my very first project that I would finish. My little sister was about to become the "lucky" owner of a blanket, which ended up being a lap blanket but that's a different story for another time. I was determined to finish it and then, if I didn't like crocheting, I would give it up.

I spent the next two weeks crocheting whenever I had the time. I remember being at a friend's house after my baccalaureate, watching a movie and working on the blanket. Without realizing it, I had sat down in the only rocking chair in her living room and was unconsciously rocking back and forth. My friends did notice and also saw that I had pulled my hair up into a bun. My best friend walked over to me, told me to look at her, balanced a pair of glasses on the edge of my nose, and then asked me to rock. Everyone died laughing because I looked like a little old granny - I didn't think it was that funny at the time. It took me a while to accept my "old lady" moments, as my family has so loving dubbed them.

By the time I left for college that fall, I was addicted to crocheting. However, my projects were limited to scarves and block-designed blankets, things I could easily make with a single crochet stitch. It was the only stitch I knew! I wanted to be able to make more creative things, so I bought new books and new crochet hooks. My first roommate introduced me to a new yarn which led to the discovery of other types of yarn - it turned out that Red Heart was not the only yarn brand in the world! I slowly started to learn the other crochet stitches - the half-double, the double, the treble, slip stitch, going around the front/back post, bobbles, ect. I even taught one of my new, and now closest, friends how to crochet. This is something we still share almost four years later. I can't tell you how many times we have stayed up late talking about projects that we're working on or hope to start soon, about yarn, and teaching (she's student teaching right now). We both want to somehow include crocheting in our future classrooms or even start a club at whatever school we end up at.

I feel like I've come a long way from that first blanket. I just recently crocheted my first article of clothing, a jacket! Woo! Crocheting is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life and it's something that I hope to pass on to other people in my life. A couple of my cousins have already asked me to teach them how to crochet and the first few lessons remind me of my early days. Hopefully, next time I see them, we'll go get them their own hooks and yarn and maybe finally get through the single crochet stitch.

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