When I wrote about crochet a while back, I listed a number different things that I could do, and their limits. I had some folks kindly suggest I was being too hard on myself, enumerating the “…buts”. I promise you, however, that the opposite is more the problem. When I make quilts, or sew an eight foot stuffed squid with beanbag arms, or crochet little doilies, or hand-off the random granny squares I make to my kids’ friends, people are usually impressed. And in general I am pretty pleased with myself. If someone says, “Wow, I have no idea how to do that! That’s really cool!” that feels good and I am happy to bask in that feeling. Making stuff both amuses and gratifies me because not only do I like doing it, I like that other people think it’s nifty and something they couldn’t do (although I usually think they could).
Mostly creativity is a self-reinforcing cycle and since I don’t actually need to do any of this for a concrete, externally driven purpose (grades, money, marketing), why stress? It’s great in fact, because I need to please no one except myself (mostly) and if I had to make stuff, it would likely suck the joy out of the task. Not to mention most creative work is shockingly unremunerative, even for the people who have dedicated years to professional advancement, training, and marketing themselves in their craft.
None of this means I shouldn’t exercise self-critique on my habits and abilities. With crochet, I can watch myself treading a familiar lane. The “I could do that” instinct gets me through picking up yarn and hook, holding the hook (but not necessarily the yarn) correctly, and making a number of basic elements. So far I have made:
- a bunch of doilies, some of which I used to ornament a hat
- a bunch of hexagons
- 2 short chunks of single stitch crocheted fabric
- a couple of leaves
- at least 4 different shapes of flower
- a large shawl
- 3 or 4 small afghans
- 2 owls
- a lady bug
- several granny squares
- 2 scarves, one with pinwheel ends
- an (inadvertent) “poo emoji”
- a small shawl-type thing, described more particularly below (after the poo).
Things I have not done include:
- figure out “gauge”, nor even tried.
- follow a complete written instruction for any single project, nor even made the effort to match hook and yarn size.
- forced myself to learn “increase” or “decrease”
- followed any formal method of joining elements
- attempted a project that requires precisely shaped pieces (e.g. garments, or those popular little amigarumi stuffed animals)
- learned to read a pattern that doesn’t come with a line drawing. (“3dc, ch5, dc in next WHAT…?)
- done a project that would require me to purchase a specific amount of a particular weight of yarn.
The first two of these would be good for me, the next three probably would as well. They would make me better for going through the exercise, because I can feel the objective. I know the slight increase in effort and tedium of doing something repetitive would result in my understanding some aspect of the process better, instead of forcing it. But I haven’t made the jump. Instead I do more doilies, because they are easy and fun. Apparently they’re called “motifs” in the lingo of the craft. I actually got a book showing all kinds of circles, squares, and hexagons. I use up my heterogeneous scraps of yarn on strange mongrel Frankenstein creations. This hasn’t gone entirely badly.
For example, I posted a work in progress on Facebook and one guy (my kids’ former pre-school teacher) said “looks like a uterus” and another (a high school classmate) said “needs more fallopian tubes.” I looked at it more closely and concluded they were both right. I had started out simply by trying to duplicate a scrap of antique lace, using some very strange metallic thread that I had in a bunch of different colors (mostly gold, but some silver, red, and pastel as well). After the crowd-sourced uterus feedback, I decided to run with it, adding heavy black border to set off the red endometrium.
I couldn’t figure out fallopian tubes (or didn’t want to), but I incorporated a couple of previously-made doilies as abstract ovaries. I also had some flowers on hand to represent the progress of the developing ovum and implanted zygote.
Finished, it looked quite a bit like the drawings of the egg cycle in educational materials about the menstrual cycle. But it could also pass as a rather bohemian little shawl/scarf (although the metallic thread is scratchy and annoying). My physician sister-in-law said she thought the lighter parts of the uterus, which I conceived of as symbolic of mystical female power (or something), looked just like uterine fibroids. My various teenage nieces looked at it with some skepticism but seemed to find my explanation plausible.