A-Z Blog Challenge: “C” is for Crafting

I tend to stay busy on the computer for a better part of the day.  With school assignments, creative and freelance writing, I sit and type, a lot.

I really don’t mind, but sometimes I just want to do something where I’m not staring at a computer screen with my brain in drive all the time.  I like crafting and working with my hands, creating things to keep or give away.  Or sell.

Noah’s Art painted in 2000
One of my favorite crafting endeavors I started about 20 years ago was decorative wood crafts.  My older son would cut the wood in the garage on the scroll saw and my daughter and I would paint the pieces, making all kinds of items from ornaments to signs.  I even had a booth in a craft shop in Morro Bay for over 1 ½ years, about the time I was pregnant with my youngest son, and after he was born.  The shop has been gone for a while, but I remember going over to the coast to stock my booth always amazed at what had been sold in the previous weeks.  I kept painting for quite a while, but haven’t in the last several years.


Cherry Cheesecake Soap

 

Over this past summer I started making personal care products and soap.  Lip gloss, hand lotions, deodorant – all homemade and natural.  Making the soap took a bit of practice, but with the last few batches I was pretty happy with the results.

I find making things like this relaxing and there is a measureable result.  Something I can turn to when I just want to get away from something stressful, like math homework or an analytical literary paper.
Since I’d knitted years and years ago, one craft I’d been interested in trying was crochet.  I used to think this was something little old grandmas did while sitting by the fire, surrounded by mountains of yarn balls.   But, I realized anyone could try their hand(s) at mastering a ball of yarn and a little crochet hook.  “It’s relaxing” I was told, by those who have done it so much they can do it in their sleep.
First Attempt
I wondered what would be so hard about using a little hook to catch a strand of yarn and make something resembling a scarf.   After all my mother-in-law Patsy, has made us useful items for the kitchen and Christmas ornaments.  My aunt Shirley made me a scarf and hat about a year ago, plus she makes all kinds of things like hats for preemie babies and other creations.
I bought a set of crochet hooks and found some leftover yarn.  Then I searched YouTube for a ‘how-to’video. Turns out there’s tons of videos to choose from, but they tend to go a little too fast for me.  In fact one lady gave a disclaimer in her video, “I tend to crochet like lightning, so you might want to rewind it if needed.”  Boy she wasn’t kidding.  It was like trying to watch a hummingbird’s wings in flight.  After watching many, many times I thought I had it figured out.  Except, I didn’t.  I held the yarn much too tight, and was so stiff I ended up with something that resembled knitting more than crocheting.  I have no idea what kind of stitch I was making; in fact I think it was a combination of several missed stitches.
I realized this didn’t seem to be the relaxing craft I really wanted to pursue.  In fact it was stressing me out.  A lot.
I called my aunt, Shirley.  She graciously accepted my invitation (call for help) and came over. She watched me ‘crochet’ and gave me a few pointers.  Turns out I wasn’t doing that bad, just a few mistakes that resulting in something other than real crochet.
She guided me and soon I was making something that wasn’t so bad.  It still wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad either.  I still was too stiff and my fingers didn’t want to do what I wanted them to do.  But, with practice while she was here I got a little better.  (Mind you while she was here she completed an entire project herself – probably with one eye closed.)
I kept practicing, but after she left my project started to take on an uneven look.  I seemed to be losing stitches on one side, while adding some on the other side – like a scarf, but not entirely even down the sides.
I figured I needed a personal refresher course.  This past weekend my mother-in-law came over for her birthday lunch.  After the festivities I pulled out my lopsided scarf and looked pathetically at her asking what I did wrong. Yep, I definitely dropped on one side and added on the other.  Again I received coaching, and this time it seemed to make a little more sense.  It also became a little less stressful, almost fun.  “Almost” is the key word.  “Don’t forget to count,” she reminded.
I think it will be like anything else and require lots of practice.  Although one cool thing about crocheting (and knitting) if you make a mistake or don’t like what you’ve done you can just pull on the yarn and it all comes out.  This can also be a bad thing in case the cat finds that little yarn tail and decides to take off with it across the front room.
So when I get a chance, I practice my crochet.  It’s not like painting (no special area needed, no paint to clean up, no wood to cut), nor is it like making soap (working with lye – gloves and goggles required).  It’s clean and simple and fairly inexpensive.  One ball of yarn, one crochet hook, and one willing to make mistakes until it becomes more natural.
One of these days I’ll have my scarf made.  So far it’s about 30” long. I’m about half way there.  I doubt I’ll ever go at hummingbird wing speed, but just the chance to make something useful keeps me motivated.  If I don’t forget to count!

6 thoughts on “A-Z Blog Challenge: “C” is for Crafting

  1. That's going to be one long scarf 🙂

    Active creativity like crafting is so much better than passive inactivity like watching TV and zoning out. It is great mental discipline an a salve for frayed nerves. We all write of course, but other creative activity compliments and balances one's life. Keep it up!

  2. You see I always sew by hand making pillows and things for my daughters but I never learned how to use a sewing machine. That is my goal to learn to use a sewing machine. Also when you said “watch a hummingbird’s wings in flight.” It made me think about this lady who braided my hair a few years ago. Her fingers were like that. I didn't know to describe it but that line was perfect. Thanks

  3. Crafting as someone else said is much better than vegging as I sometimes do. The art of doing something useful. I sew a bit (machine…I don't have the patience to go by hand) and have dabbled a bit with embroidery including some silk ribbon. And once upon a time I had my grandmother try to teach me crochet…I ended up with a triangle instead of a scarf! Lol! I admire your perseverence with that particular craft. 🙂

  4. Dandy post, Joan. Once upon a time, when I was a college student, I worked in an office with a bunch of little old ladies who knit and crocheted similarly to the picture I got of your Aunt Shirley. One woman even had a knitting machine and knit tiny sweaters for newborns on it. To be in on the office talk and activities, I learned and became pretty proficient. Everyone in the family got some handmade thing over the years: scarves, sweaters, hats, ponchos. It was a lot of fun then, but it's been nearly 40 years since I've taken up my yarn and needles. Thanks for the memories. xoA

  5. Clara, my girlfriend, is an avid crocheter. In fact, today at Bakersfield Comic Con, she sold her entire stock of crocheted pokeballs (from the Pokemon anime kids show) and locked down a permanent stocking at a local gaming shop for her wares. Even now, as I type, she's dipping and tucking and rolling her needles beside me and I can see her lips moving as she counts out the stitches. (A side note in reference to Anna's word blog – I have found another beatific moment. I could watch her all day.)

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