On Saturday, I spent the day (re-)learning how to crochet. Now those of you know me well know that I haven’t, perhaps, always been overly respectful with my comments on the subject. Yes, I’ve dabbled with the craft in the past – edged a shrug, produced a number of Granny squares – but have always considered myself to be more of a knitter, having to refer back to books every time I’ve picked up a hook to remind myself how to achieve even the most basic stitch. The more rational part of my brain conceded that I did, indeed, have a huge gap in my yarn-related knowledge – and this was the opportunity to address it.
The class was small, perhaps not the most desirable for the tutor but ideally sized for those of us attending, sat poised with hooks at the ready. And then, you know how it is when you want to impress? How everything can go hopelessly wrong? That would be me: Couldn’t even remember how to hold the yarn let alone start my first chain. Oh, silly Katherine. All those hours on the train travelling to the workshop wasted on knitting when they could have been spent reacquainting myself with something a little more relevant to the subject under study. Katherine meet hook. Hook singular, remember? Left hand actually has to do something other than hold a second needle. And then, as if to shine a light on my own, special failings, it became blindingly clear that the other so called beginners were nothing of the sort! One quick demonstration of yarn placement in hand and chain formation and they were off, leaving me trailing in the distance. If they hadn’t been so nice, I might have tried to blame them for highlighting my own inadequacies (this is not something that I often need help with), but given the speed at which those chains were starting to fall from their hooks, I had to act fast – or I might as well have accepted defeat, poured myself another cup of tea and got out my knitting.
But a 4mm crochet hook will not conquer me. All self-respect lost, I found an empty seat beside the Tutor and confess my sin. She’s nice about it, of course, but nothing is going to stop me from feeling so terribly, terribly stupid. Needless to say, yarn is wound around fingers in the prescribed manner and I start to form a chain. And then I remember. Remember why I find crochet sometimes more than a little frustrating: My fingers just don’t do what I tell them. Oh yes, I understand the theory: Use your thumb and middle finger to hold the work and your index finger to tension the yarn - only my index finger wants to see more of the action. Apparently my index finger thinks that it can tension both the work and the yarn. Not necessarily a recipe for success.
But I plodded on and had soon caught-up with my contemporaries, triple crocheting along with the best of them. We made a coaster, we made a Granny square and then, just as the afternoon was coming to a close, we started a corsage. I was exhausted and I suspect that this wasn’t all to do with the early start to make the workshop on time -turns out its hard work spending six hours trying not to be bottom of the class. And then I blew it: Made the classic mistake of not reading the pattern correctly and failed to increase on the second row. Just the not-so-small matter of now only having half the number of required stitches and no twist to my work. Clearly I’m not going to undo forty stitches to correct my mistake (I don’t care how fast crochet is, I have a tiny bit of pride left) and I’m kindly told that I’ll just made a “deeper” corsage to that everyone else is making and I can work my increases on the next row. You know that I know all about “features” but this really is pushing the limit. I completed the row and cast off. The others had already started packing-up, shopping, planning projects and so, thankfully, there was no one else to witness the shame of the pathetic chain of double crochets that was hurriedly hidden away in my bag. That said, it was with great reluctance that I left the workshop, having said my goodbyes to such fun and interesting people and turned my back on a truly spectacular array of yarns, books and accessories. Such delights I will save for another day.
While seeking shelter from the pouring rain at the tiny train station local to the workshop – where it was too cold and wet to even contemplate knitting – I reached for one of my crafty magazines. And found myself drawn to the crochet flowers. Gosh, they were beautiful. I sought the pattern and, miracle of miracles, I actually understood it! Goodness me, if I hadn’t caught myself planning a crochet project!! And then another (we were given a rather lovely pattern for a corsage on a bracket at the workshop) and then it snow-balled. Maybe my brand-new 3.5mm hook was going to do more than pick-up dropped knitting stitches… I remembered the vibrant cushion, warm blanket, amazing scarves, stunning flowers – all created by the witchery of crochet. Oh clever, clever Tutor. You hooked me while I wasn’t looking. I chided myself for not adequately stocking-up on the necessary materials before leaving the workshop so I could have completed all said projects before getting home (because crochet is oh-so-much-faster than knitting, remember!). The panic of nearly four hours on the train and nothing to do!
Thankfully, and before I could run back to the workshop to correct my mistake, the train arrived and my fellow passengers and I dashed from our refuge into the warm carriage. I secured a double seat to myself and got out my knitting. So, what will it be? More of the jumper or the foot of the socks? Nothing to do, eh? But be still, beating hook, your time will come.