Thursday, January 08, 2009

Why Did I Learn To Crochet?

OK, in all fairness to the Warm Ewe Up Winter Swap moderator, I'll answer the question that she meant to ask me.

I was born to crochet.  It is my destiny.


My maternal grandmother crocheted.  She was a 4'8" spitfire of Irish heritage and she was left-handed.  In fact, she had several (I'm thinking maybe 8? but I can't recall how many) siblings, and they were all left-handed.

Sadly for her, both her children -- my mother and my aunt -- were right-handed.  They longed to crochet like their mom but they couldn't quite learn from a left-hander.

When I was born and showed a preference for the left hand, there was much rejoicing because now Gramma (she was still just Gramma then.  Later she would be known as "Little Gramma" by her great-grandchildren to distinguish her from their grandmothers) would have someone she could teach to crochet.

I learned to make a chain when I was 4 or 5.  I would have gone on merrily making chains until Kingdom Come but for a pivotal and rather traumatic moment in my tender childhood.

One day a lady came to our house to do business with my mother.  I am not quite certain what the business was -- my mother was an Avon lady at the time and probably it had something to do with that -- but for some reason, it was important that manners and protocol prevail that day.

The woman sat in a chair in the living room and waited for my mother, who went off somewhere else in the house to fetch something for her.  While she waited, the lady pulled out of her handbag two needles and began knitting something.  I was fascinated and nosy, of course.  I asked her questions about what she was doing and she answered sweetly.  We were having a delightful conversation when my mother re-entered the room just in time to hear me tell the lady, "I crochet."

"Do you?" she crooned.  "What do you crochet?"

"Oh, chains," I answered proudly.

The two women dispatched their business and the lady left.  My mother had no sooner closed the door on her than she whirled around and berated me soundly.  "Don't tell people you crochet!  All you can do is make chains!  That's not real crocheting!  If you tell people you crochet, then they expect that you can actually make something."

Looking back from an adult perspective, I realized that that lady and what she thought about me and my mother was of Very Great Importance to my mom or she wouldn't have been so harsh with me.  But at the time, I was devastated that I'd made an awful faux pas (even though I wouldn't have understood the term if someone had told me then that I'd made a faux pas.)

As soon as Gramma visited again, I went to her and demanded that she show me something else.  Something more than a chain.  Something like what she was doing.

Thus I learned my first stitch.  And my second.  And lo and behold, a Granny Square!

Every year someone gave my grandmother a gift subscription to Workbasket.  She kept them in a trunk in her living room and used the trunk as a footstool.  She let me read them and I taught myself how to read a pattern and began making Barbie clothes and toilet paper covers, the usual Workbasket variety of FOs.  My grandmother was envious of my "talent" because, she said, she didn't know how to read a pattern.  I guess the person who gave her the Workbasket never knew that because she kept getting them every year.  By the time I was grown up, they filled the entire trunk.  I'd grab a few of them every time I visited her but by the time I was in college, I had no time for crocheting.  I didn't pick it up again until recent years.

But nowadays, every time I make an FO that I'm proud of and I post a picture of it on Ravelry or on this blog, I think, "See Mom, I really can crochet!"


Warm Ewe Up Swap Pal said...

I am truly touched by your story here, I was a lot like you when I was young, learning just to chain, but I had to teach myself the rest as the nice old lady who taught me moved away. But your memories of your grandmother, and this story, are priceless, thank you so much for sharing them. :)

nopinkhere said...

Sweet story about your "Little Gramma." It also reminds me that you never can tell what you say that your kids will take badly or latch on to.