I Make Things out of String

My favorite hobbies are knitting and crocheting. I know part of that is because I can use them to make both pretty and useful items. A new baby on the way? Need new hot pads in the kitchen? It was cold last night? It’s a day that ends in y? Bring on the yarn and either crochet hooks or knitting needles.

More and more studies are showing that crafts like knitting and crocheting are excellent ways of reducing stress. As anyone who crochets and/or knits will readily tell you: “I already knew that!” Of course, personally, I think any hobby can achieve that goal, but it’s probably easier for scientists to clap electrodes to someone who will voluntarily sit still as long as they have a work-in-progress in their hands.

With this world event that is the pandemic, I know I am not alone in saying that I’ve turned to my hobbies a bit more to help deal with the stress of it all. I’ve learned how to do the ripple stitch in crochet and cranked out a couple of small blankets while I learned that technique. That’s the fun part about learning a new technique or stitch for either knitting or crocheting, we can still make something useful while we practice, usually scarves or dishcloths. I’ve knitted a pair of socks using the two-at-a-time technique which is still magical to me. But the past year has resulted in a lot of doilies.

When I first started crocheting, I turned to doilies because they were present in most households growing up in the 70s and 80s. I taught myself how to crochet in high school using one friend’s 4-H booklet. Another friend taught me how to read patterns and I was off and running. At the time, almost every doily I saw was made with either white or ecru crochet thread which got boring to work with, so I switched my focus to afghans and scarves. I’m not positive, but I’ve often wondered if the cotton thread used to make doilies was only made in those two colors. Now that there are tons of colors available it’s a lot more fun to make doilies. The picture at the top of this post shows some of the doilies I have made in the past year. I’m going to give a little shout-out to the pattern designer of all the doilies in this picture. Julia Hart of Draiguna designs beautiful and intricate patterns. Here is a link to her Etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/draiguna/ and her blog: https://www.draiguna.com/.

blue variegated ripple crochet afghan
Blue Variegated Ripple Afghan

Cute note: As I finished that paragraph, my daughter grabbed the afghan in this picture to curl up under while she ate breakfast and watched cartoons before school.

I was taught how to knit by an English woman when I was ten. Wrap your brain around this riddle: I am left-handed, but right-hand dominant. The lady who taught me to knit was born left-handed but was one of the generation who was forced to do everything right-handed. So, I’m left-handed taught how to knit right-handed by a left-handed person. Riddle me THAT, Batman™!

One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting in my elderly neighbor’s kitchen drinking tea and visiting with her while she knit mitten after mitten without a pattern. I even joined her a few times making gifts for people, sweating over every stitch on my two needles, while she breezed through mittens on four needles. Show off! Laura was about the sweetest lady you could ever meet. She had dozens of grandchildren, but do you know where those mittens typically ended up? In a basket in the middle of her kitchen table. If anyone entered her house with chilly fingers, they left with a pair of mittens, warm hands, and a warmer heart from spending time with her.

Until my daughter came into the world, most of my knitting was focused on socks, mittens, and scarves. Since the birth of my daughter, I’ve used her as an excuse to make Weasley Sweaters! When she was two, she didn’t appreciate the history of that sweater the same as she does now that she’s a teenager who has read all the J.K. Rowling books and watched all the movies. She was all set to model her latest Weasley Sweater in a picture with several of the actors who portrayed the Weasley children in the movies when the world started shutting down in spring 2020! Stupid pandemic!

I am grateful to all the people who helped me learn these skills. Now, thanks to the internet, I can expand those skills. It’s amazing that although I’ve been crocheting and knitting for several decades I still learn new techniques and stitches.

Well, I’m off to drink coffee and work on my latest doily. Have a great day!

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