Originally posted December 6, 2011
One of the blogs I subscribe to is The Jackie Blog. This morning I received a post from her titled, “Enraged Knitting for Beginners,” which I thought was funny and it reminded me of my experience with trying to read crochet instructions. My friend Nanda tried to teach me knitting several years ago. I got the hang of it (if only briefly) and made what amounts to a not-so-absorbent coaster (I was aiming for a scarf, actually). Crocheting seems so much more productive and efficient to me. Knitting seems like 800 steps to gain a couple of inches. Maybe it’s just me.
Remind me to show you a photo of the technicolor eye sleep mask I crocheted for Michael on a flight back home from visiting my family a few years ago. Just 20 minutes after he said, “man, I wish I had one of those eye thingies so I could go to sleep,” I completed my version of a sleep mask for him. He did not hesitate to put it on and promptly drift off to sleep. This was particularly funny to me because it looked like a coat-of-many-colors-pre-teen training bra over his eyes. To create it, I crocheted two 3-inch circles and connected them in the middle with a one inch chain. I crocheted two long chains and attached them to the side of each disk so he could tie it around his head. (I had to tear the yarn to make each component since you can’t bring scissors on board.) I really didn’t think he would actually wear it, but he apparently has no shame. What a (sleepy) trouper he was (is)!
Below is a re-post of my crocheted hat obsession from September 2007. Now that winter isn’t far off and I’ll soon be tucking the garden in for the season, the yarn and crochet needle should be making an appearance soon.
Just how many hats does one girl need?
24 hats and counting, apparently—then add a few questionable scarves to the equation. Many years ago, in my formative teenage years, my mother taught me how to do a chain stitch, as well as single and double crochet stitches. That was the extent of my crochet education. (My younger sister, Kelley, never advanced beyond the chain stitch, but I must admit that she can make a really, really long chain stitch!) Sidebar: My Grandma Hester taught me how to use the same stitches to cover aluminum bottle caps. When we got a pile completed, she hooked them together and made dandy little trivets—now available for just 25 cents each at a yard sale near you.
So every few years, tempted by the yarn aisle at a craft store (honestly, what aisle does not tempt me?), I would buy a skein (or two or three) and attempt to make something wearable. I recall almost finishing a project (or two or three), but mostly I remember lots of half-finished unidentifiable yarn projects in a plastic bag in my closet. Fast forward to Christmas about four years ago—we were visiting my family in San Antonio, and on the drive up to see my younger sister in Dallas, I decided that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” and bought some yarn and needles. I have to do something when I’m in a car for six hours—if I’m not driving, that is. Picking up crocheting again seemed logical. I could arrive in Dallas and still be social, creative, and productive—with something tangible to show at my destination.
I decided I would attempt to make yet another (likely-never-to-be-finished) scarf. With my crochet skills a little rusty, the yarn began to curl and I couldn’t keep it straight. My mom (a.k.a. my crochet guru) said, “well, if it’s curling—make a hat!” Hmmmm…how does one make a hat? I started a chain stitch, then a single crochet, and let it weave into a circle until it began to resemble a yarmulke—since I’m not Jewish, I continued crocheting past that stage. I asked her, “How do you make it go down to form the sides of a hat—do you go tighter or looser?” Since she replied, “Yes” (a non-answer), I asked her if she had ever actually crocheted anything. That’s when I learned that although she knew chain, single, and double stitches, she had never made anything! All these years I had just assumed that the afghans, ponchos, pom-pon hats, placemats, and tissue holder covers on the couches, backs, heads, tables and toilets of friends and relatives across the country were all lovingly crafted by my mother (all of which are now available for just 25 cents each at a yard sale near you).
I just began to wing it, and I stopped at the precise moment it resembled a hat (see photo, second row, 2nd hat from left——this is my first hat). I did this without any instructions, unless you count my mother’s advice. Mom wasn’t much help past the yarmulke stage, and reading crochet pattern instructions would make my brain hurt.
Never seen a crochet pattern? Here’s just a sampling of the (it’s Greek to me) language of crochet: to shape crown: Ch 1. Rnd 1: Work 7 sc in first loop to form ring. Rnd 2: Work 2 sc in each st. 14 sts now in rnd. Rnd 3: Work [1 sc in next st, 2 sc in foll st] to end of rnd. 21 sts now in rnd. Rnd 4: Work [1 sc in next 6 sts, 2 sc in foll st] to end of rnd. 24 sts now in rnd, etc.
Now, I’m smart enough to know what the abbreviations mean, but if I have to keep reading something in order to make it (sort of like having to read an entire software manual—who really enjoys that?), it kind of zaps the joy out of creating for me.
So, I confess that I am crochet-pattern-challenged, and must do it by sight, trial, and error. If my goal is a hat, I crochet until it resembles a hat and then I stop—ditto with scarves. Something must be working with my rather crude system because here I am—24 hats and 7 scarves later. I can make a hat in about an hour and a half (pretty quick results to satisfy a creative streak). It started out with simple hats made from one kind of yarn and has evolved (as you can see in the photo) into fuzzy trim and appliqued flowers. I cannot make a simple hat—it has to be embellished now. You’ll notice several of the hats are plain—this was practice until I had the shape down pat. Then I got brazen and started adding fuzzy borders, balls, bric-a-brac, and brims.
I crochet on road trips and instead of telling someone how many miles it is from here to there, I tell them, “That’s about a 3-hat trip for me!” Making hats (too many) is something to do during winter when I can’t putter around in the garden. Some I make as gifts, but most I hoard for myself.
And for an amusing take by another blogger on what not to crochet, go to the site below. Also look at “Top Posts” on the right and see some other funny crocheted items; the “Thongs” posting is funny, particularly the responses from readers.