No matter how much I knit, I always come back to crochet. Perhaps it’s memories of my mother and grandmother bending over me to guide my hands through the motions of crochet that keep me thinking about crocheting something. I was 8 when they began to teach me to crochet. I think it took me several years to get the hang of it and to have fine enough co-ordination to maintain a proper tension on the yarn — a key ingredient of crochet.
When I was expecting my babies, I reached for a crochet hook and fingering yarn to make each baby boy tiny, lacy jackets with matching caps. I also crocheted an entire wardrobe of booties the way my grandmother taught me, using her pattern, which I had memorized because she never wrote it down.
The bootie began with a tiny single-crochet rectangle to cover the top of the baby’s foot, and a loop of single crochet coming off one corner of the rectangle and attached to the other to encircle the ankle. The bootie foot and leg were built on that basic structure and finished off with a drawstring in chain stitch embellished with tiny pom-poms to tie around the ankle.
When I was in my 20s, laid up in bed with an illness for six weeks, I reached for a crochet hook and crocheted a granny-square afghan. Crocheting allowed me to forget my misery and to concentrate on the large box of odd balls of yarn friends and family had sent me.
Afghans knit in the ripple pattern were all the rage then, but I wanted none of that (not even in crochet).
I didn’t want to work endlessly long strips composed of bands of color. I wanted bright rounds of color encircled by black, which resulted in stacks of squares to arrange in groups and rows until they “looked right” to me.
I wanted something to do with my hands that I could pick up and put down without worrying about dropped stitches or wondering what row I was on. (Of course, at the time, I didn’t factor in sewing all the squares together — but that’s another story.)
My current crochet project is a lavender clutch purse crocheted in linen yarn. The pattern arrived in an online newsletter from Lion Brand. The pattern calls for cotton yarn, but I didn’t have any so I thought the linen would work just as well. It does. Then I decided to crochet the purse flap from silky ribbon yarn that varies in color from pale peach to vibrant purple with pale brown thrown in for good measure. The pattern works up quickly which satisfies my need for craft instant gratification. I’m toying with the idea of crocheting a flower to serve as a “button” closure.
When the purse is finished, it will be the perfect place for my collection of crochet hooks — everything from the tiniest size 14 I inherited from my grandmother to the jumbo size J that I haven’t used since I went completely bonkers and crocheted a rug of cotton fabric ripped into narrow strips. (Don’t try that unless you have biceps of steel and hand muscles strong enough to crush a coconut.)
Besides crocheting, I also have been reading about crochet. It’s not easy to find books written about crochet, as Mary Beth Temple points out in her collection of more than 40 humorous essays, “Hooked for Life: Adventures of a Crochet Zealot,” published recently by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This small volume may not be precisely an answer to the wildly popular “Yarn Harlot” by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a collection of essays about knitting, but it’s a start and goes a long way toward making the case that crochet is not the ugly stepsister of knitting.
Indeed, crochet has a beauty that holds its own against knitting, provided, of course, crochet is not dumbed-down in service to creating covers for extra rolls of toilet paper or covers for cell phones and other electronic devices. Crocheted lace edgings add beauty and grace to pillowslips, hems of skirts, even to cuffs on a knitted sweater.
“Hooked for Life” is small enough to tuck into a tote bag with a current crochet project, making it handy to share with one’s Stitch group. “Proudly Multicraftual,” “If it Exists it Must be Covered in Crochet” and “I am not a Hooker” are chapters that struck me as perfect for reading aloud.
One of my favorite lines in the book is from the chapter “Crocheting for a Cause.” It says, “Cash cannot replace love, but crocheting is a pretty good substitute.”
Look for Temple’s book at local libraries or ask for it at bookstores.
• Visit www.crochetme.com for free crochet patterns. The Web site also offers a blog, and crochet tips and techniques. Another good source of crochet patterns is www.crochetcentral.com. Those with a yen for crochet patterns of yesteryear will find a bonanza at www.antiquepatternlibrary.org.
• The Winterport Clippers, a chapter of the Pine Tree Quilters Guild, will hold a quilt show 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, at Sandy Point Congregational Church, Route 1. Admission is by donation; $3 suggested.
The show will offer quilts from past and present. Fabric and notions will be available for sale, along with a “second time around table” where quilters can recycle quilting-related items.
The Ladies Aide of the Sandy Point church will provide lunch consisting of a sandwich, beverage and dessert at a cost of $6.50 per person.
Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.