When I took knitting up again, I was 25, married, pregnant with our first, and stuck at home unable to work. I had been a server and the pain from being on my feet was overwhelming. This meant that my husband, and the only friend or family I had in the area, was at work, a lot. Nights. We hardly saw each other.
Through all our moves (at one point I counted 13 moves in 9 years), I had managed to keep the sets of knitting needles I was given after my grandmother died. (And no, she did not teach me to knit, and yes, I only got them because no one else in the family knit and they all thought she taught me.) I had gotten what was left of her yarn too, so I set to work making a baby blanket while I waited for our little one to arrive. I can’t remember what else I knit during her early years, but I know it was enough that my mom won me a knitting yarn basket when she came across the chance. It was so nice to have so much yarn to use. And at this point, our darling daughter was pretty easy to keep content.
The next time my mom won me a yarn basket, we were living back in my hometown and we were expecting baby number two! This time it had a How to Crochet book, a set of hooks, and all the other basics I would need for crochet. I set to it and learned how to crochet. Thank goodness too because knitting with an infant and a toddler was impossible. Crochet allowed me to continue to keep as much sanity as I could and have a way to show my love and appreciation to others. I began to crochet Christmas gifts with all the yarn I had been given at a time when we could not afford those things. I was able to make gifts for my kids too.
These early gifts were not necessarily really well constructed. I still knit a few things too and my family and friends accepted these gifts gratefully. My gratitude to the people who appreciated what I was giving them drove me to increase my skill and branch out. I bought magazines and learned how to correct patterns in crochet pretty quickly. I could find almost anything I wanted online. The concepts of crochet came pretty quickly for me and I loved challenging myself with it. I stuck to small items I could get done quickly so everyone could get something.
By the time baby number three arrived I was really only crocheting. It was too much to risk losing all that work and it was so hard to focus on knitting. Crochet was fast and, for me, super simple. I made decorations for the holidays and really made some cool stuff. A few people have been less than grateful and even rude about what I’ve made them. Others were honest about what they like to wear, so that I could make them something they would really get some use out of, which is important to me.
Occasionally I come across a look from someone, or a slight shift in body language, or even a rude comment when I haven’t made something for someone, but they see me giving a gift to someone else. I ignore it. They usually have no idea why I made that person a gift. No idea what kind of a history created that piece. And it’s none of their business, and they wrote themselves off my list with that character reveal, if they were even on it in the first place.
It can take me months to decide on a pattern for a person. Then I look through and see what I need to adjust, or I’ve decided to blend a few patterns. That can take weeks of pattern work and choosing yarn. Then there’s usually one or two unintentional practice runs before the piece gets underway. I think of the person the whole while, putting our stories into the loops and weaving in hope for the future. It’s a soul-work for me. A spiritual practice. If what I am creating does not bring me peace or feeds my anxiety, I won’t do it.
I guess some people feel insulted if I’ve never made them anything, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t have something in the works. These things take time and the order I do things in is part random and part plan. I am making an effort to make more for myself. I want to wear this stuff too!
After finishing my middle one’s sweater and starting on my youngest’s remake, I will be making myself a summer shawl. Not something I usually do, but I have this pretty light-weight yarn that would be prefect and I think I’m beginning to like shawls. I decided this would be my next project because I began having project anxiety. I kept coming up with more projects and more gifts to make and I get resentful. So a shawl it is.