Yarn Therapy

My favorite hobby, when I’m not writing wry observations about my everyday life, is crochet.  My Italian grandmother – my Mom-Mom – taught me when I was nine years old.  For five years or so, all I produced were endless strings of chain stitch, like this:

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I would sit near her while she crocheted precisely, efficiently, her hands wrapping the yarn quickly over the hook and magically incorporating it into the blankets she created.  Meanwhile, I was struggling to keep the yarn from slipping off my crochet hook, and I spent what seemed like hours painstakingly creating miles of chain stitch that would eventually wind up in the trash.  (It seemed like hours, but I was nine years old, so it was probably ten minutes.)  She also gave me instruction on a few basic stitches, but these were more difficult, and I didn’t have the tenacity to stick with my attempts for very long.  I progressed little in those days, but I did create lasting memories with Mom-Mom.  They are among my most vivid childhood recollections of her.

When my oldest child was born, I received beautiful crocheted blankets from each of my grandmothers.   Both were used frequently and both were cherished by me.  I have them still, tucked away with other precious memorabilia.  By my second pregnancy, both of my grandmothers had passed away, and there was no one close to me who enjoyed crocheting.  I wanted this child to also receive a hand crocheted blanket and committed to making one myself.

I began crocheting early in my pregnancy – which was fortunate as it took me many months to finish one small baby afghan.   I only knew two different stitches.  I couldn’t read a pattern, so I crocheted repeating rows of the same stitch until I had a good sized rectangle.  It was the most basic of blankets; however, I was pleased with how it turned out.  Encouraged, I kept on crocheting after that.

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My first completed baby blanket

 

Over the years, I gained greater competency, and I learned how to read those patterns which previously had been so confusing to me.  Although some types of yarn can be expensive, crocheting in general is quite affordable.  I have purchased yarn for fifty cents a skein (or less!) at yard sales and thrift stores, and have received gifts of yarn from thoughtful loved ones.  I buy yarn on sale and stash it away for future projects.  Thus, no matter how low my bank balance, I have always been able to grab my hook, and create a gift or an item to donate to a worthy cause.

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I have plenty of hooks to choose from. These are some — but not all — of my crochet hooks. (Don’t judge me.)

I love the feeling of calm that I experience when I crochet.  By its nature, it’s a soothing and comforting activity.  The soft yarn in my hands and the quiet concentration it requires help me to filter out the cares of my world and focus solely on the task at hand.  I enjoy it also as a skill that I can employ for the service of others.  When creating a gift or donation, I use the time to think and pray for the recipient.  I focus on sending them love and peace with each stitch.  I call it Yarn Therapy, and I love it.

I have taught my children crochet, just as Mom-Mom did for me.  Like me, they have mostly created loopy streams of chain stitches.  My youngest has taken the most interest, and she has progressed enough to crochet a few round yarn coasters.  It remains to be seen if she will take up the hobby or not, but I am hopeful.  The nostalgic part of me enjoys the idea of passing a skill on from generation to generation.  If nothing else, I hope she is making memories that she will keep for a lifetime.

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If you are interested in learning to crochet, Red Heart Yarn offers detailed instructions to get you started.  You can also view videos at Lion Brand Yarn that take you through the learning process step by step.  You could also ask someone who enjoys the art of crochet – most people love to share their talents with others.

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Charity Crochet:  Ask in your area to see where there is a need.  Inquire at hospitals, nursing homes, local charities and churches, etc.  Some ideas include: baby blankets for hospitals and shelters, scarves for foster children, prayer shawls for the sick and grieving, lap blankets for those living in care homes, or hats for cancer patients.  Check out Project Linus or Warm Up America online.  You can also use Lion Brand Yarn’s Charity Search Engine or run a web search to see where you can help out.

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For patterns, try Crochet Pattern Central – you will find an online catalog of free patterns organized on one handy site.

yarn

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