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Saturday, May 22, 2010

98% Self-Taught

Posting in a Ravelry forum tonight got me thinking that maybe I should share my story on learning to crochet.  Have you taught yourself a craft? I would love to hear your stories.

For me, the journey of learning to crochet started when I was about 9 years old.  My grandmother always crocheted afghans and made booties for all of the grandchildren.  Looking back, it seems she always had a hook in her hands, and I was intrigued.

I honestly don't remember the little details on how she started teaching me, but one day when I was about 9, she gave me a set of crochet hooks and I picked out 2 skeins of yarn.  We got back to her house and she taught me how to hold the hook, tie a slip knot, and start chaining.  I chained the yarn all day long, making belts and necklaces and really long cat-toys.

I was due to come spend another day with her a couple of weeks later, so she sent me home with my yarn and hooks and my newly found skill at "crocheting".

All week long I crocheted chains, longer and longer. I attempted to make them perfect-same size, no twisting, big enough that future stitches would not be difficult.

I arrived back at my grandmothers house the following week, and she taught me the single crochet stitch.  I couldn't believe it! I was really crocheting! She showed me how to continue working more and more rows of single crochet with the promise of showing me the next stitch the next time we got together.

Sadly, shortly after that day, a series of events that I won't get into on my blog estranged me from that half of my family for many years.  I hardly saw them or spoke with them.  Holidays were tense affairs and hardly the atmosphere to ask for more instructions.  I never had another lesson or crochet-related gift from my grandmother. I regret now the years that I stayed away.  It could have been such a bonding experience for the two of us.

Eventually, I gave up learning to crochet.  This was before the time of finding everything on the internet (hard to believe, I know).  I sadly tucked my 2 partial skeins of yarn and set of crochet hooks in a box in my closet, telling myself one day I would go back to them when I had someone to teach me.  That day never happened.

Two years ago (almost to the day!), I found out I was pregnant with a little girl and grew determined to successfully crochet her a baby blanket.  I dug out the yarn and hooks I had stored so many years ago, and started practicing my stitching and looking up new stitches on the internet.  I never did manage to make her a blanket, but I know now that I had very optimistic ideas on what a beginning crocheter could accomplish.

This past October, I decided that instead of attempting a blanket, I would try and make her something smaller-a hat!  I had finally found someone with instructions I could follow and chose to create a hat for Addie based off of her video tutorials and patterns.

My first attempt was...well...a disaster.  I had yet to learn what an "increase" was and just kept putting more and more stitches in until I finally knew I must have it wrong!

I started over and followed her video tutorials-which where much easier to understand than most written instructions-and learned what I was doing wrong (Oh! So you only add an extra stitch once every 2/3/4 stitches then go back to one!).  Finally! After 15 years of chaining and single-crocheting, I had finished a project!

From there, I started slowly making more hats, with the hopes of selling them alongside my hair bows in my brand-new (at the time) etsy shop.  I made a few for friends, made a few to list, and Addie's hat collection grew and grew as well.

I thought I was doing really well with crochet when I listed the hats in my shop, but honestly, even just a few months later, I look back and think "really?!"  My style, skill, and techniques have changed so much in such a short time!

Crocheting really has become a passion for me, and I'm so thankful I'm finally getting paid back for all of my hard work.  It is truly rewarding to know that others appreciate my work and see the value and skill that must be behind each piece and make it worth the money they pay.

Have you taught yourself something? What was your journey like?

1 comment:

  1. This is a cute story. :) Thank goodness for the internet, where tutorials on how to do anything are right at our fingertips!

    I'm completely self-taught, but some books about drawing that my mom bought me when I was young helped a lot.