Sunday, January 27, 2013

Day 27: Zen and the Art of Making Knots in String

Several months ago I tried my hand at crochet, started several projects, then got busy and left them all in a bin with the hooks I'd bought and skeins of yarns I really liked, but felt sure I'd never end up using.  Then one night I'd had too much caffeine, but no money to go do anything and desperately needed to find some way to keep busy.  So I grabbed a crochet hook and some chunky yarn in a deep heather blue and started another project.  The difference was that I finished it this time.  I even added tassels to the scarf I made.  And then I gave it to my brother as a birthday present.  And I remember thinking that it was odd how easy it felt, since I hadn't felt it was easy before and had come to believe I would have forgotten how to do it at all.

Since then I have finished another scarf, am almost done with yet another that I'm sending to Meg's sister, and have promised one to a co-worker as soon as this one is finished.  I've discovered that Debbie Stoller's The Happy Hooker (the crochet version of her Stitch 'N Bitch series) is the perfect crochet bible for me.  I actually enjoy reading it and I love the way she has it laid out.  And if Mary hadn't already let me in on the fact that I was unintentionally do single crochet wrong (go through both loops, not in the center of the V!), I would have had an epiphany reading the foreword, where Stoller mentions that she did the exact same thing when she tried to teach herself.  I can't say enough good things about this book - everything is very clearly explained, including all the things people do wrong (think of it as America's Test Kitchen for crochet).  It is just technical enough to lay every detail out, but entertaining enough to make you want to keep reading.  It also has a bunch of great patterns (including a cowboy hat, which is a lot cuter than it sounds).

But on to the zen.  I was sitting on a bench today, outside of my work, crocheting before the start of my shift.  A stranger sat down near me and after a bit asked me about this craft o' mine.  He asked if it was calming and I said, yes, it's quite zen.  Then we talked about a Cookie Monster hat he saw on Pinterest, but that's beside the point.  It was the first time all the reasons I have for loving crochet came together.

First, I like making things with my own hands.  I know it's usually more expensive than picking up a scarf or sweater at the store, but I am a scarf collector not just because I like scarves, but because I can never find just the right one.  I crochet for the same reason Meg sews - you get to make a custom fit that is your style.  Not what they had at the mall or what is fashionable according to lord-knows-who.  Crafting means you get to take something you saw and liked and make it entirely your own.  How marvelous!

Next, it is yet another way for me to bond with a lot of the women in my life.  Not just my mother's generation, either.  Knitting and crochet have become more and more popular over the years, so a lot of women in my generation have picked one or the other (or both) up.  And at my work there is an even amount of folks who already work with yarn and those who really want to learn.  I work with very creative people anyway, so a craft night is certainly in our future.  Also, I was surprised that a young guy would ask me about the scarf I was making.  And kind of impressed.  He wasn't flirting, he just saw an opening to make conversation and took it.  Since I suck at making conversation, I should just carry crochet projects everywhere I go from now on.  And rumor has it men are also getting into crochet.  

Finally, I can do crochet anywhere and it is like meditating.  My focus is on the project (counting, counting, counting), but my mind feels nice and relaxed.  I'm being productive while reserving energy.  At some point, I feel like my brain has kind of powered down, but in a good way.  Today alone I crocheted in my car (while it was heating up), before my work shift, on my dinner break and after dinner while watching a DVD.

If you're interested in learning this craft, again I recommend The Happy Hooker.  I also highly recommend Craftsy (keep on the lookout for occasional free and discounted classes!) and Ravelry (to track projects and see what other people are working on).  I also urge you to join a knitting/crochet circle, whether it's at your local yarn store, with friends and/or co-workers or through Meetup or the like.  I learn better when I can watch other people, then have them check my work.  Maybe start by checking The Happy Hooker out at the library, trying some stitches with various crochet hooks and some inexpensive yarn, then you can decide if you really want to invest the time and money.

If you started to learn, then gave it up - pick it up again!  I keep telling people that if I can do it, anyone can.  I really mean that.  It is ridiculously easy and only takes a bit of practice (you'll learn to control the tension of the yarn to avoid loose and randomly sized loops and chains, trust me).

Oh, one more thing: Amigurumi.  Someday, you guys.  Some. Day.

1 comment:

  1. Wow looks like fun, wish I had the time!


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