A Thousand Rehabbed Crochet Squares

Finding purpose in the pieces left behind

The journey of a thousand crochet squares begins with a single stitch. — crochetbug

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The thousandth crochet square

My family and I celebrate Christmas, and this year — after our celebration had drawn to a close — my husband and son and I were each busy with our indivdual post-Christmas “things to do” lists.

We were going to begin the upcoming new year by making what ended up being a multi-part move that would take nineteen months to complete. It was with this move in mind that I went into the dining room (which doubled as my crochet office) to start organizing my crochet. One thing led to another, and I soon found myself at Ravelry (an online crochet, knitting, and fiber community) and noticed that I had a new message.

A volunteer for Project Amigo (a non-profit focused on helping the community of Colima, Mexico, educate their youth) had read my “about me” notes and left the following message:

In your About Me Notes I saw that you have made afghans in the past. Rather than making an entire afghan, would you be interested in knitting or crocheting five inch or six inch squares (any color, pattern or yarn type)? This project is ongoing so if you do not have time now it would be fine to take it up later on. The project is also posted on the Ravelry Charity Knitting group.

Would I be interested?

Would I ever!

Although, at the time, I didn’t realize just how interested I would be.

I was supposed to be packing and downsizing, and this project would give me the opportunity to work on the downsizing component of the move in a way that felt productive. So I went upstairs to the guest room which was overrun with my crochet projects — both finished and a state of seemingly permanent limbo known as “in progress” — and I made my way around the guest bed so I could get to a big bag of crochet squares I had made.

Years earlier I had participated in a crochet-along based on Jean Leinhauser’s classic, 101 Crochet Squares. My only plan had been to make the squares and learn from the process — which I did — but the plan for the squares stopped at making them. I had no idea what I would do with them, and since the day I had finished the 101st square, they had been waiting for a calling, and as it turned out that Project Amigo was prefect for thirty-one of them.

I started with Square 5, a square with an elegantly simple granny square base and a gorgeously sculptural daffodil appliquéd to the center. The square before rehab was a touch too small with very rounded corners, but after 30 minutes of work, I was able to make it a better fit for the five-inch square category:

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Square 5 rehabbed into a five-inch square

The square was ready to go, and rehabbing the first square set off a cascade of crochet events, and soon I had all thirty-one squares completed and ready for adventure.

But once I had sent them off, I realized that while I might have been done with those thirty-one squares, the squares were not yet done with me.

The squares I had completed were well received at Project Amigo, and as I continued to sort through the pieces of my life, I found more eminently rehab-able remnants, and when I was not packing, I turned the bits and pieces of my crochet life into five and six inch squares.

We had lived in the same house for almost twelve years, and it showed. There were any number of things I had put off for “another day,” and with the house sold and a date by which we and all of our stuff needed to be out, “another day” had finally arrived.

Each morning I would get up and start work on packing up my past. I often found myself face-to-face with things that exemplified either a questionable purchase or a questionable use of time. I couldn’t get either the time or the money back, but I could transform what was there into something of purpose, and as I did, I vowed to spend both my money and my life more carefully, and to my immense satisfaction, I had another box of squares to send.

The most current science suggests that while twenty-one days is a minimum threshold to establish a new habit, sixty-six days is the more often the amount of time needed to make something a routine, so by the time we were officially out of our house, I had a pretty good rehabbing habit formed.

As I made my way through the bins and bags and boxes, I learned to see the assorted bits and pieces not as liabilities that needed to be dealt with, but as opportunities at transformation.

It got to the point that I could look at just about any remnant and see a way to turn it into a square before I even picked up a hook. I was even able to take some of the many boho crochet hearts I had made at one point and square them off so that they were travel ready:

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Two boho crochet hearts transformed into five-inch squares

That Christmas evening that I got a message out of the blue from someone I had never met, I had no idea the impact it would have on my own life — that it would lead me to rehab more than a thousand crochet remnants into five and six inch squares. But over the nearly nineteen months I have spent transforming the many bits and pieces of my crochet past into squares that have a future, I have learned a lot about myself, the power of purposefulness, and just how much one unexpected message can change your future.

Sometimes when you set out on a journey, you have a definite plan and know where you are going, and sometimes you only know that the only available option you have is to more forward, one step, or — as the case may be — one stitch at a time.

Crocheter on a mission to make the world a better place — one stitch at a time. Twitter: @crochetbug. Crochet blog: https://www.crochetbug.com

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