My Yiayia (Grandma in Greek) taught me how to crochet when I was eleven-years-old. I still remember the way she said “loop” as if it had six additional “o’s” and sat patiently with me as my small hands fumbled to hold the “work” and the hook at the same time. We did one loop after the next with “I Love Lucy” playing in the background, and she let me take the conversation wherever I wanted it to go. Which meant we talked a lot about snacks.
After a few months of our weekly crocheting classes, I was rewarded with an uneven scarf that I wore proudly in 80 degree temperatures, a.k.a spring in Los Angeles, and a collection of moments with my Yiayia that I didn’t realize would be some of my most treasured memories.
However, once softball practice was back on the schedule, my crocheting phase passed. I ditched the yarn, not intentionally, but as something that just didn’t stick amidst piling homework assignments, sports practices, and arguments with my big sister about who was in charge of the remote control.
It wasn’t until years, actually, decades later I felt compelled to pick up a crocheting tool and ball of yarn, and start at it again. Perhaps this is what happens after googling “cozy activities to do at home” and “screen-free hobbies” one too many times during quarantine. Nevertheless, I’m grateful because while some have found peace in quarantine by baking banana bread, learning calligraphy and reading hundreds of books (bakers, writers, and bookworms, I applaud you), I find comfort in crocheting.
From Blankets to Beanies, Crocheting Projects in Quarantine
Over the past year, I’ve crocheted mug cozies, plant pot covers, scarves, blankets, book covers, coasters, and attempted to make booties for my baby niece six times without success. I’m still trying, though! But no matter what I’m working on, a blanket made of single crochet stitches or something more complicated –cough cough, baby booties– crocheting is like the equivalent of slipping into a bubble bath. It makes me feel at ease.
The simple act of looping and threading gave me something to do when my sister was in labor and I desperately wanted to be there for her at the hospital. I turned to crocheting my forever-work-in-progress blanket when my (now) husband and I made the decision to postpone our wedding celebration to one day. And I crocheted two things I ended up unraveling later on car rides to two socially-distant funerals. I didn’t crochet to make anything in particular, I crocheted to make room for myself to slow down and focus on one thing at a time, instead of letting my thoughts zig zag into a zillion different directions.
So what is it about crocheting that is so comforting? I’ve asked myself this question so many times, and I struggle to pinpoint what it is exactly that feels so good for my soul. Yes, crocheting is repetitive and gentle, almost like a lullaby for my hands. The motions require just enough brain power to keep me focused without making me feel stressed out. And it has given me a way to feel confident and calm with the power of my own two hands.
But more than anything, crocheting makes me feel like a kid again. As I hit a snag, I hear my Yiayia, who is no longer with us, saying “siga siga” (slowly, slowly) and reminding me that if I mess up it’s “no problem, just tug the yarn and go again.” The stakes are low. The process is slow, at least when I do it. And there’s always so, so much more to learn.
Like the author Henna Sohail wrote, “See the world through the eyes of your inner child. The eyes that sparkle in awe and amazement as they see love, magic and mystery in the most ordinary things.” I like to think of crocheting as my lens into that state of child-like wonder, finding magic in the act of making something cozy out of yarn, and relishing in the journey, not the end result, as the fun part. If nothing else, it’s time away from scrolling on phones, which if you’re like me, is a gift in itself.
If you’re not already a long-time friend of yarn, here are some tips, from one crocheting beginner to another!
Crocheting tips for curious beginners:
- Youtube is your friend: So many incredible teachers are on YouTube with free classes for pretty much every pattern you could possibly dream up. Here are some of my favorites: Wooly Wonders Crochet, Bella Coco, and The Crochet Crowd
- Get to know the basics: While some say “master” the basics, I think it’s more important to simply have a good grasp on them. For example, know how to make a slip knot and simple chain before going for a complex pattern. Get an understanding on the difference between single crochet and half-double crochet, and then go for the beanie. But it’s ok to still be learning and go for a more challenging project that’s speaking to you.
- “Siga siga” (slowly slowly): Unless you’re in a crocheting competition or trying to get something completed in time for a holiday or birthday, what’s the rush? Enjoy the process of creating just for the sake of creating.
- Use ponytail holders: Long-haired friends I’m talking to you! It’s easy to get hair caught in your work, which not only looks kind of creepy, but also hurts a bit. Been there, done that!
- Squeeze it in when you can: I used to think I needed to have an hour of free time to crochet. But I realized that even if I only have two minutes – I can still get a bit of progress on a project. Over time, those two minute add up!
- Perfection is overrated: If it’s uneven, so what! Especially with blankets and scarves, I’ve found uneven edges add a cute quirkiness. At least that’s what I tell myself. 🙂
Hope these tips help you get excited to pick up some yarn and make something cozy. Happy crocheting!