I don’t like feeling incompetent. I was one of those children who was easily pushed into doing things by being told, “I bet you can’t”, and a certain amount of that trait has endured into adulthood. However, there has always been one exception to this desire to learn and get on with things: crochet.
“I just can’t get my head around it” has always been my go-to excuse. And to be fair, it’s a very different structure to knitting. It’s possible to go meandering off in all directions and get lost, rather than the simple back-and-forth (or round and round) I’m used to. As far as I could see, the only advantage was that with just one live stitch at a time, the consequences of dropping your work were likely to be less severe.
Part of the the trouble is that I learned the basics of knitting at such a young age that they’re ingrained on a muscle memory level. I would say it’s like riding a bike, but given that I never got the hang of that one either, this is pure guesswork. At any rate, while I didn’t start knitting properly until my early twenties, the movements and concepts were familiar, and therefore easy to build on.
I don’t have any recollections of crochet pinging my childhood conscience in a similar way, other than it being the occupation of choice for the titular character of the Milly Molly Mandy series when she gets stuck in her room (if you’re unfamiliar, it’s a series of delightfully anodyne children’s books that are more or less Enid Blyton on steroids in the midcentury nostalgia stakes). I remember wondering briefly what crochet was, but having no interest in making dolly bonnets, I quickly went back to talking to thin air and pretending to fight dragons. Yes, I was an odd child.
Now, the anti-crochet stance has always been something of a personal inconsistency, and I try to avoid those. So ti was that I sat in front of my laptop clutching a 6mm hook and some leftover aran with grim determination. I was going to get through the flailing beginner stage for real this time, and the nice lady on Craftsy with the soothing voice was going to be my guide. I’ll admit, this wasn’t entirely without ulterior motive. While I hadn’t promised to lovingly crochet an object for a special occasion or to win someone’s heart (because my life is neither a quirky sitcom or a source of viral social media content), I do have a problem with my left wrist. An old sword-dancing injury, my dears, what else?
Anyway, it turns out that not only is tendonitis a bugger to get rid of once you’ve got it, but that driving a car with a clunky, worn-out gear box will make sure it sticks around for years. Being right handed, I reasoned that crochet would aggravate the bad wrist far less than knitting. The idea of not doing anything yarn-related with my hands had been immediately dismissed as absurd.
“What?!” said the Yarn Widower when I told him how I’d spent the afternoon. “Isn’t that the devil’s needlework?” (He’s very receptive to my prejudices, or well trained, depending on your point of view). I explained to him about trying new things and how my wrist was getting really sore, and he seemed to come around. However, he did note that I seemed pretty stressed, and he had a point.
Being a beginner at something sucks. Basic concepts make no sense, the tools feel all weird and clumsy in your hands, and anyone even vaguely competent looks like a fucking wizard in comparison. I hate hate hate hate hate it. But I dutifully churned out yards of chain, then misshapen lumps of double and treble (single and double for our transatlantic cousins, but that’s a rant for another time) crochet. I discovered that my previous attempts had gone wrong because I’d mixed up slip stitch and double crochet, and you can’t make a slip stitch fabric because it’s too tight or something. I don’t know, that’s what the lady on Craftsy said, at any rate.
Eventually, she told me I was ready for a proper project, so with my usual sense of proportion…
To be specific, it’s the Modern Granny Afghan, which is available free at the Crochet Crowd website in the link, and the yarn is Caron Cakes in Honey Berry.
It took a little while to sort out how to turn the corners, but by George, I think I’ve got it.