37 years ago there was a child sitting in a dining room sighing. She had played with the toys, she had eaten bacon and refried beans in a tortilla for breakfast, She had made works of art with the paints but now she was bored. That child was me. My grandma looked askance and said "Child you need something to do, come here." I wandered into the living room, with it's china Matador, and Spanish bulls always ready to fight and gave that look. You know the one your bored kids give you with the tilted head.
Sit down, take this crochet hook and watch me, my Grandma demonstrated how to make a basic chain stitch. I tried, I failed. She made me unravel it, gently discussing how knowing how to crochet is a useful skill for man or woman. She nattered on about how she doesn't know the stitches names but she was sure some book could tell me if I was willing to go look it up in the library. As she repeatedly made me pull out my stitches and try again. She just talked to me about how you can make up your own patterns if your just willing to think about it.
As she let me do a one chain, then a single stitch (very bumpy) made me unravel my work. With a mix of gentleness and sarcasm, she challenged me to try try again. When she was satisfied she taught me how to do a double stitch, and then a triple. She covered where to place the stitch, in a loop or in the hole created by the stitch. "See how that changes your pattern?" she asked. She taught me how to keep all my lines on one side. How to skip, how to add a line with out increasing, or decreasing... Next up was adding stitches into a single loop to increase on purpose or make a pretty pattern. Then how to do it in a circle and how you add rows to things that are round. "How many extra stitches do I add per row when it is round Grandma?" I recall her answer "Oh darling you go figure that out for yourself, it changes as you grow, never be afraid to unravel your work."
One boring afternoon, turned into a life long skill and a fond memory. I'm not that good. I still have to translate the secret code of stitches with a cheat sheet guide. Yet rarely do I use patterns. It's way more fun to wing it and see what happens. That sense of "Let us try and see" is still with me. I once set out to make a cap and made a beret instead that was fun. Considering I had tried to follow the beret pattern and gave up on it the month before. Maybe the pattern just needed time to sink in.
On my birthday I got skeins of yarn from a friend. I was amazed could I?? after 37 years could I??actually make an afghan? Did I wing it... yup I did. Did I unravel a bunch Yup. I finished it. I cuddled up under it and I was warm. It's so soft and I'm a bit in awe. It is so big. It is the biggest thing I have ever made. I of course see my errors but yet I don't think you will even notice.
What a fine present my friend has given me, the yarn was a means to an end. On cold winter nights I binge watched Netflix. As the afghan grew, it kept more and more of me warm, and each time I picked it up to work on it; as I placed the first stitches, the memory of my grandmas voice guiding me came to mind and brought a smile to my face.
Sometimes my heart is heavy. Little Miss Sunshine has learned to crochet, but Sweet Potato thinks it is useless. Often citing how Ron Weasley of Harry Potter fame hated the sweaters his mom made him. Store bought is better, don't cha know. Why spend so much time on a blanket? When you can buy a nicer one at the store and you don't have to work for it. I shake my head, how do I reach her? How do I get her to understand the value in things crafted by hand? Maybe I never will, or maybe someday she will make something she is proud of. Something she could not buy at the store, something just right for that space. Something she had just as much enjoyment in making it, as she will in using it. Oh child I hope someday you will see the pleasure is as much as in the creation / the journey as in the possessing.
I leave you with those words of wisdom: "Oh darling you go figure that out for yourself, it changes as you grow, and never be afraid to unravel your work."