Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Knitting and Crocheting 101

Anyone out there remember granny square vests? You have to have lived through the late sixties, early seventies to have experienced them.

They were hideous.

I never had one.

Almost all the other little girls back in the day wore them regularly. Big girls, too, I suspect. It seemed like they had one for every day of the week. Did they actually like them? I always thought their mothers must have forced them to wear them so that the grandmothers wouldn’t have hurt feelings. I'm pretty sure it was the grandmothers who crocheted them. I remember discussing granny square vests with my sister when we got a little older. We were both so glad we’d never had a grandmother who crocheted.

Which is why I was so surprised when, back in the early nineties, my sister took up knitting.* She made me a pair of slippers for my birthday.

They were hideous.

Only she didn’t realize it. As soon as I got the wrapping paper off (I hadn’t even identified what they were), I held them up and started laughing uproariously. Hey, I thought it was one of those sisterly gag gifts and that we were going to laugh ourselves silly over it.

“What are they?” I asked, at the same time noticing that I was the only one uproariously laughing.

“They’re slippers,” she answered, very seriously. “I knitted them for you.”

“Oh!” I exclaimed, immediately stifling the laughter.

“They’re Cougar blue,” I observed. I couldn’t think of what else to say. They weren’t shaped the same. As slippers, you ask? Right. Or as each other.

But this didn’t stop me. I pulled them on and stood up in them.

“I love them!” I exclaimed, probably overdoing the enthusiasm a little in an attempt to cover my previous social blunder.

They were kind of hard to keep on my feet, but I made sure I wore them for the rest of our visit.

A few weeks ago, I learned how to crochet. I’m an Activity Day leader over the ten and eleven year old girls from church. (See February 2011 post Hershey Kiss Roses.) A neighbor of mine, Kathie, is my partner. We thought it would be a good idea to teach the girls how to crochet. Of course Kathie would have to head this up since I didn’t know how to do it. Kathie would quickly show me first, and then I’d be able to help the girls. She taught us how to chain the first day. The second time we met, we reviewed the chain, and then she taught us how to go back up the chain and make another row. And then another one. And another one. I thought I picked it up quite easily and I managed to help some of the girls to catch on.

At the end of the hour, I had a skinny rectangle. I took my little project home and continued to work on it. It was kind of fun. And it was very satisfying somehow. I loved seeing and feeling the yarn build up and come together in a pattern, simple though it was. I was creating something. Maybe a Barbie blanket. Of course I’d have to get a Barbie. I sat and worked at it for quite a while. It was very therapeutic. It was relaxing and I just wanted to keep going. I could get hooked on this, I thought. (Sorry about the pun.) (Crochet hook?) Only I noticed that the further along I got, the stranger my rectangle was getting. In fact, it was no longer a rectangle. I now had a perfect trapezoid. My row was getting shorter each time I got to the end and turned around to go back. Hmm. So much for Barbie's blanket.

I learned two things from my crocheting experience. I learned that the reason those little girls back in the day had all those granny square vests was because the grandmothers found crocheting therapeutic and satisfying. They just kept making them. I also learned to appreciate the work my sister put into knitting those slippers for me. My Barbie blanket had turned into a Barbie trapezoid. Her slippers had turned into… well, I’m not sure what. But I bet making them was very therapeutic for her. And satisfying.

Maybe I’ll ask Kathie to teach me how to make granny squares. I could make vests for all the little girls in our Activity Day group.

* I called my sister to ask her if she minded if I wrote about her less-than-successful knitting experience. She claims to have no recollection of ever knitting me a pair of slippers. She does remember trying to learn to knit a coat hanger cover at a church group activity when she was a young girl. She says that was the only attempt to knit that she has ever made. But I have a home video that shows the two of us, with me wearing the Cougar blue slippers. Well, that doesn't prove she made them, she says. I think I humiliated her so badly when I laughed that she has blocked the whole experience. I feel terrible. Maybe I should make her a granny square vest to make up for it!


  1. Claire taught me to crochet an afaghan. I'm making v e r y slow progress, but it is rather theraputic. Maybe we can crochet together sometime :)

  2. haha crochet can be NOT hideous. :-) And you have very good stitch form-- they all look the same size and evenly spaced. You're just forgetting the first stitch when you turn the row. You could, however, sew it up the back and make Barbie a skirt. :-)

    I enjoyed this post immensely. Also, I really like your writing on all your posts, not just this one.

  3. I laughed it up when I read your post. It reminds me when I took up crocheting, which wasn't that long ago...ahem...3 months ago...time saving wise I probably spent maybe two weeks at most learning how to crochet. Made my first doll yesterday woohoo! anyway back on topic, my younger brother had gave me this weird look and said "Are you learning how be become a grandma?" mind you he is only 8 and I am only 23. now that i've made my doll he doesn't think it so granny and is willing to learn how to crochet.

    It was great fun to learn about a fellow crocheter's beginning. have fun.