Hooked on Crocheting

Make a slip knot in a piece of yarn. Then wrap the yarn around your little finger. Bring it under your middle two fingers and around the back of your pointy finger. Pinch the knot between your thumb and middle finger.

That’s how you start just about every crochet project.

My Great-great-aunt Bessie taught me to crochet. She was my Granny’s aunt. I figure she was born in the late 1800s since she was five or seven years older than Granny and Granny was born in 1903.

Aunt Bessie used to come and stay with Granny for a week or so at the time, and, since I spent most of my free time at Granny’s house, I spent a good bit of time with Aunt Bessie. I marveled as she turned out colorful afghans, caps, and scarves. One day I asked her to show me how she did it.

Make a slip knot in a piece of yarn, she started out. Then she showed me how to thread the yarn through my fingers and hold the right amount of tension. Hold the hook like a pencil. She showed me how to poke the hook through the slip knot, “catch a loop,” and pull it back through. Do that over and over and over and over and somehow, miraculously, you have a chain. Work back and forth across your chain, then you have a scarf. Work your chain around and around, then you have a hat. I was hooked.

Aunt Bessie wasn’t the only person I knew who crocheted. My paternal great-grandmother Edith, Mimi to us, didn’t make afghans, though. She made huge, round doilies, and tablecloths, and lacy bedspreads, many of them from silk thread she got from unraveling retired parachutes bought at Mobile’s Air Force base, Brookley Field. Daddy said that she would sit on the sofa, a paperback novel propped on the arm, and crochet while she read.

I didn’t know Mimi that well. When I was young, she was very old and in a nursing home. From the stories I’ve heard about her, though, she seemed like a “busy” person, someone whose mind is always working ninety to nothing. Maybe she thought that if she was just merely reading the book, she was wasting time. If she could crochet and read, then she was being productive while doing something else she enjoyed. Maybe I just think that because I’m a “busy” person too.

That’s why I crochet. A lot. I’ve made baby blankets, beanies, bookmarks, caps, coasters, doilies, scarves, shawls, and more afghans than I can count. I’ve deciphered and conquered some really difficult patterns, but I my favorite is the simple Granny Square. It’s pretty easy and worked in rounds. You can make a lot of little squares and sew them all together or you can just keep going round and round and round until you have one great big square, also known as a blanket.

When I’m crocheting, even though I might be “wasting time” watching television, I feel productive. But more than that, I feel calm, and quiet, and centered. Every loop, every stitch is like a momentary meditation. The methodic repetition (yarn over-catch a loop-pull through-pull through-yarn over-catch a loop-pull through-pull through-yarn over-catch a loop-pull through-pull through…) quiets my mind and concentrates my thoughts. And as the afghan grows across my lap, so does my sense of inner peace and contentment.

Make a slip knot in a piece of yarn. That’s all you need to know to get started. And before you know it, you’ll be hooked too.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. When I was studying for the Alabama Bar Exam, I taught myself how to crochet. It was the balm I needed in a very stressful time. I’ve made a few things over the years, but the tension always gets me.

    1. I guess it just takes practice. I tend to crochet very tightly but mainly uniformly. That’s why I don’t do a lot of doilies — I get the thread so tight I can barely get the hook through.

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