on crochet: part 1

A while ago, when sorting through some old boxes at my family home, I came across a bunch of yarn, crochet patterns, and an almost finished sweater. Apparently, my mum had been into crochet a long time ago. I was immediately curious and asked to see her in action. Two minutes of her magically twisting a crochet hook left and right resulted in a neat row of stitches! It was beautiful.

My awe at her speed and the completely unfounded confidence that I could remember her exact hand movements blinded me to all her instructions and tips, and I resorted to YouTube tutorials at 0.5x speed to understand the basic movements. After a few days of an absolutely unnecessary deep dive, I decided to get started. A painfully slow half hour of stitching and unstitching left me with a barely acceptable row of chain stitches. It curled in on itself and was so tight at the beginning you could barely see the stitches while being so loose at the end my little finger could pass right through it. Quite the ugly little thing. I cut the yarn, tied a loop, and called it a keychain, my first ever crochet piece. I wish I could show you a picture of that little thingamajig, but it was probably tossed in the trash a few weeks later. This is as close to how I remember it though.

A poor rendition of my first ever crochet ‘project’

In my eyes, this was still success. Boosted by the results of that single half-hour, I set aside the hook for a few weeks. Instead, I watched multiple videos, downloaded free patterns online, and browsed Pinterest for cute crochet projects. Autumn was right around the corner, and a little amigurumi pumpkin sounded like a good idea. I picked up the yarn and hook again, and what do you know… I had to start afresh. I couldn’t get that foundational chain stitch going at all. Apparently, doing 20 chain stitches in a row some two weeks prior did not amount to anything. Who knew. (I’m side-eyeing my past self so hard here.) An unsuccessful hour later, I ‘conceded’ defeat and put away everything back into the box. Crochet is just not for me, I decided.

Two years passed.

Crochet wandered back into my brain June of this year when I found myself on bed rest with an ankle the size of a pomegranate. A twelve pack of yarn and a set of crochet hooks arrived speedily the next day, courtesy of a behemoth from which I try to avoid shopping. I picked up the 4 mm hook and stared at it. The intense disappointment and self-hate that had followed that one little keychain came rushing back. However, hindsight tweaked my vision a bit, and I could see the past a bit clearer.

I had simply expected myself to be great at crochet despite the lack of (any amount of) reasonable effort. I had become interested in a new activity. I had dived into the blackhole of YouTube and Pinterest, researching and bookmarking several ideas and projects, planning my skill development. However, at the very first visual reminder of something amateur, something very, very beginner-like, I had judged myself harshly and put it all away, assuming I was no good at it.

Well, I was literally incapacitated this time around. I wasn’t going anywhere. The yarn wasn’t going anywhere. I started anew. I picked up the red yarn with the goal of making a scarf. Eyeballing the measurements, I began with a chain stitch and continued the subsequent rows with the single crochet stitch. It looked horrendous; I’m not going to lie. But, I worked on it every day. Every single day, just a little bit. My heart beat faster as each additional row of stitches made the blob of fabric look more and more like a scarf.

I completed the red panel of the scarf in under a week. It wasn’t the best start ever. Definitely wonky in places. But I had stuck at a hobby for more than a few days. I had consistently worked on something for more than a week and had an actual, tangible item in my hand as proof of that effort. That feeling, that achievement, is irreplaceably precious to me.

P.S. As I was typing this post out, I had a moment of déjà vu. My post on first drafts on this blog has something in common with this one. ‘Crochet is just not for me.’ ‘Writing is just not for me.’ I think I have a pretty bad quitting-before-I-begin problem.

Leave a Reply