A, B, Crochet: Learning to Crochet is like Learning to Write

Learning to crochet is like learning to write. When you first start holding a pencil in your young hand it is strange. By the time you learn to write you have likely used a fork, spoon, knife, crayon, marker, but previous to that point you haven’t been asked to use that kind of dexterity; to use your fine motor skills to create letters on a paper with a pencil. I have always felt that writing is one of the most human of things and when I write, I am awed by the ability. The ability to crochet fills me with similar sense of wonderment.

Remember the number of “a’s” that you had to write before your hand just simply wrote an “a” without thinking about how to shape the “a”. After enough times writing an “a” it became second nature. Then they challenge you with an “A”, then “b”, “B” and so on, within a short time you are writing words. When I sat down with my first crochet hook, a Boye, size G-6/4.25mm, the Vanna’s Choice yarn, a crochet instruction book and started learning to crochet, I hadn’t yet realized the similarity between learning to crochet and learning to write. One unfortunate aspect of learning to crochet from a book and not the wisdom of others who crochet, is that the book didn’t tell me that I should practice my stitches like I practiced writing letters.

 

The book did start me at the beginning of the crochet alphabet though, with a slip knot, the very beginning of any crochet project. The book said that to create a slip knot, you should make a pretzel with the yarn. It sounds strange but it was the most accurate description, and anytime food is used as a descriptor, I am instantly intrigued.

After making the pretzel and creating my slip knot, it was time to learn how to make a chain stitch, the foundation of nearly every project. There are three ways to start a project, but the most common is the traditional chain; then you build stitches onto the chain. You can choose from a variety of stitches to build onto your chain, the more advanced you become the more stitches you know, seems obvious enough.

Slip knot on my hook, hook in my right hand, yarn draped around my left, I began a chain. Each additional link in that chain looked like a kindergartner had just written a bunch of sideways “o’s”. I would tell you to keep making chains until all of your chains look like an adult wrote those “o’s”. I didn’t do that, so my first crochet project looked like my journal from kindergarten.

Do you have any stories about beginning a project? What did your first project look like? Post a picture or tell me about it in the comments.

Crochet is a Lake

I remember the day I bought the first ball of yarn I would crochet. I went to Michael’s. In front of me a wall of colors and textures, I walked along marveling, uncertain which I should pick. I wasn’t certain about much, I hadn’t even decided what I wanted to make. I should have decided that before shopping, but I didn’t. I probably should have researched what kind of yarn should be used for certain projects, but I didn’t. I should have read about yarn weights, hook types, hook sizes, oh man, should I have read, but I didn’t. Sometimes you just have to jump into the deep and start swimming, right?

I picked up one ball of yarn after another, deciding which I liked the feeling and color of best. I shopped for the yarn like I was shopping for a sweater, it was a close enough comparison. I finally decided on a yarn made by Lion Brand Yarn, the brand Vanna’s Choice, the color cranberry. The yarn was dark red and very soft, I knew it would make something beautiful, whatever I decided to make. I assumed I would need more than one ball of yarn, so I bought three. I liked the look and feel of the Vanna’s Choice yarn and decided to get two balls in dusty rose and two in dusty green. I felt like I had just bought so much yarn, seven balls.

I was swimming, or so I thought. Actually, I had only walked onto the shore, I hadn’t even put my feet in the water yet. I have come to think of crochet like Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine, second deepest and sixth largest lake in North America. In other words, it is really big. Lake Tahoe has a large shelf before it drops off into the deep. If you wanted to remain on the shore or wade into the water up to your waist or shoulders, just like you could at Lake Tahoe, crochet allows you to do that; with very little knowledge and preparation, you will be proficient. But, if you want to go into the depths of Lake Tahoe, you cannot just swim, you need to have the right tools. I was comfortable on the shelf in the water up to my shoulders, and then someone introduced me to a website for crochet patterns and I knew I couldn’t remain on the shelf. Today, using a wide variety of tools, I am swimming, further and deeper each day. But, even today, sometimes I like to be reckless and buy yarn just because it is pretty and soft.

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