Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It All Started When...

I come from a long line of crafty women (in the artistic sense as opposed to cunning). I've always been amazed by the stories of my grandmother's sewing ability. Having the talent to make a man's suit or sketching a popular dress right in a department store and then going home, making her own pattern out of newspaper and creating the very dress is something I have no hope of ever being able to do; that type of sewing talent is why I am mesmerized by Project Runway each week. (Incidentally my own mother is quite talented when it comes to sewing, but she does not really enjoy doing it. ) I'll save the story of my own forays into sewing for another time...

Both grandmothers were crocheters as well. And though both of these beloved ladies are now gone, some of their crocheted pieces still remain. It's inspiring to see how vibrant the colors are on these decade old throws. Looking at each knot of the pattern makes me marvel at how my grandmother's hands passed over that spot so many years ago.

I remember as a very little girl being intrigued while watching my grandmother handle a little hook that was feverishly making a long comfortable blanket out of nothing but string. (Making something from nothing still leaves me awestruck whether it's me making it or someone else.) I knew that I wanted to be able to do what she did. My grandmother tried to give me some pointers. Unfortunately, the only thing I was able to learn from my grandmother at such a young age was how to cast on a knitting needle. I tinkered around with knitting off and on, and then gave it up because I never progressed beyond a knit or a purl. (I also lose stitches like the dickens whenever I attempt to actually make something).

Fast forward to the modern age. My grandmothers had passed; no one was left for me to turn to when it came to crochet questions. It seemed as though I didn't know ANYONE at all who crocheted. Crafty colleagues were knitters and couldn't answer any of my questions. I felt doomed. Was I going to be stuck making scarves and blankets using single or double crochets (the only stitches I fully grasped) for the rest of my life?

Enter the Internet. More specifically, YouTube. Despite the above nostalgic musings, what really helped me learn to crochet was some anonymous woman's video on YouTube. This video is where it all started:
It truly is for beginners and doesn't assume that the viewer knows anything (It even explains what a hook and skein of yarn is). The maker of this video patiently describes everything in the slowest of details. Confession: before watching this video I had never made a real slip knot before.

Because I'm a visual person who also learns by doing, I needed to be able to watch someone crochet to be able to do it. Static pictures in a book couldn't help. The beauty of YouTube is that you can pause the video or rewind a section anytime you need to. I paused the above video an embarrassing number of times before I actually learned how to make the slip knot.

From there I've become a YouTube devotee. Not to watch pictures of babies or animals doing humorous things or teenagers doing ridiculous things, but to learn as much as I can from all the wonderful tutorials out there.

I wish I had learned all these things from the knees of my talented grandmothers, maybe over a cup of tea and cake, sharing stories about how they learned these things as young girls, but that will never be. It's ironic that I can continue in their footsteps with an old-fashioned art through completely modern means. I am definitely grateful to learn-- even if it's in front of a computer screen.

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