Crochet like a boss

I enjoy crocheting because it’s relaxing, productive, and I work myself into a hypnotic state watching the hook slide between the loops as it makes tiny knots in the yarn. This lack of conciousness is achieved in stages and comes in waves:

  • Stage 1: Boyfriend tries to interest me in Seinfeld reruns, the hole in his sock, and his score in the frisbee golf game he played three weeks ago as I try to count stitches in my chain. I huff and puff and leave the room, chain curled up like a Slinky, after the third time I’ve lost count.
  • Stage 2: Settling into the silence around me, I start over, working a long chain that is straight enough to use. With the first row, my eyes adjust to the subtle ridges in the yarn, but my fingers could proceed without my looking. 
  • Stage 3: I work myself into a stupor watching the knots increase and seeing my piece evolve toward its final form. I am no longer myself pulling yarn with a hook: I am Fate, weaving the course of human lives.
  • Stage 4: Rows deep, I regain consciousness long enough to realize that my “blanket” looks like the base of an equilateral “triangle.” Goddammitalltoeffinghell. Pull out everything and start again. 
I think someone like me has a lot to learn from a craft like crocheting. First, there’s the way I learned it. My mom tried to teach me how to chain stitch years ago, but I was so impatient and easily frustrated that I never moved beyond that. After college, I attempted a few ambitious projects, but they were well beyond my skill level: the tote bag I wanted to make turned out like a top hat and the baby blanket morphed into a giant afghan. Then two years ago, I was in between jobs and had a lot of free time. Infinity scarves were popular and I watched a tutorial on how to make one. It seemed really easy. I bought some beautiful cranberry-colored wool yarn and got to work.

Fred the Head is styling in my cranberry scarf.
It took me a couple of days to make that first scarf, but that seemed like a really short investment of time for such a cool return. I had a thing! A thing I made and could wear! I had become a producer, not just a consumer. After that, I made a few more scarves as Christmas gifts for friends and family. I told myself I was going to crochet all the time and learn how to make even cooler things.
But then I got a job and got busy and the last couple of skeins I bought sat in a pretty bag on my closet floor. I felt guilty and wasteful for investing time and money in yet another hobby that I wasn’t commited to. Except when this Christmas came, I got all excited about the chance to make gifts again for the special people in my life. I made even more gifts this year than I had last year, and I tried new scarf patterns and made my first throw blanket. 
Apparently, I roll like a septuagenarian bag lady.

That was a learning experience for me. There are so many things I think I have to commit to on a daily basis and I get really down on myself when I don’t meet that bar. But with crocheting, I have slowly improved over the years without ever making it a chore. I think cooking would have a similar learning curve for me, except even when I don’t feel like trying something new and fancy, I still have to find a way to feed myself. 

Furthermore, crocheting requires the patience I don’t usually have. I definitely like patterns where you can fudge the stitch count, like that first infinity scarf, but no matter what you’re making, if you start to skip stitches or add too many, your piece is going to change sizes. And if that’s not the intention, it’s just going to look warped. I always want to gloss over my past errors, call them learning experiences, and move on. But in crochet, you don’t get to make a mistake and ignore it, even if it’s your first time. I’ve learned that if something is off, I had better stop and pull out my stitches right away. Many times I’ve tried to ignore some miscount only to realize that three rows later, my piece is becoming something else entirely. In crocheting, the ends and the means are the same and there are no shortcuts. For me, it requires a lot of self-discipline to just get it right. And if I make a mistake and have to start over, it doesn’t do me any good to be annoyed or frustrated. I am learning patience, perseverance, and integrity: there are no short cuts to doing it the right way. 
Crocheting can also be badass. I broke a hook making my first blanket, I’m so hard (or my stitches were too tight) (or my hook was too cheap).

I will break you.

What’s your favorite creative hobby? What have you learned from doing it? Share links to any posts or pictures below!

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