ONE STITCH AT A TIME
I have been working on a project for almost eighteen months now.
It started off as a bit of a lark. Someone at an online crafting community I belong to saw that in the “about me” section of my community profile I had said the following:
I like to make afghans….
And I do.
I love making new designs and crocheting all of the pieces and then fitting them together.
The crochet pieces left behind
But like any creative effort, there is a lot of crochet flotsam and jetsam in the wake of all that creativity. In order to get to the things that do work, you first have to find out what doesn’t work. You revise your work based on what you have learned, and then you try again.
What that means in a practical sense is that there are a lot of crochet leftovers that don’t make the cut.
Here is one such remnant from an exploration that didn’t quite pan out:
I made it in August of 2011 as I tried to decide what I would make for my annual North Carolina State Fair piece.
Before I even made the first stitch, I had my mind made up that this would be the motif that would carry me to victory and state fair fame. I love yo-yos — toy, quilted, or crochet — but as I finally worked the stitches, I found that the crochet yo-yos were time consuming, and after I had several of them, I came to the conclusion there simply wasn’t enough time for me to make them all and join them in time for the state fair deadline.
I moved on to the the next thing, but this, and several other crochet yo-yos were left behind.
Our family holiday festivities had wrapped up, as the usually do, in the early afternoon. This left me some time to myself, and I spent it looking something up at Ravelry, an online fiber community that happens to be an excellent platform for cataloging one’s projects, and I saw that I had a message.
I don’t get a lot of messages at Ravelry, so it was with some curiosity that I clicked my inbox to find a missive from someone I had never met. It read, in part:
... would you be interested in knitting or crocheting five inch or six inch squares (any color, pattern or yarn type)?
I was interested.
We had bought a house in Albuquerque and sold our house in North Carolina; I needed a project that was more portable than the things I usually dream up, and the idea of making pieces and sending them off for someone else to assemble was very appealing.
I messaged him back immediately then headed upstairs into the room that I called the “crochet empire.” As I looked for squares to donate, I realized that I had a lot of work that was almost ready to go.
The keyword, of course, was “almost.”
The crochet rehab begins
Most of what I found was not the right size.
It was too small or too large. Only a couple of the several dozen squares I found were just right.
But by now I had already invested forty-five minutes of my time. I was not about to give up without a fight.
A square that was a quarter-inch too small or a half-inch too large — that could be easily remedied. Depending on where it fell in the continuum between four and six-and-a-half inches, it could easily be made into something that would work.
I went back downstairs and fashioned a reference template from a brown paper grocery bag and got busy:
Square by square, I made progress. Un-raveling stitches where needed and reworking them or simply adding a round or two to an existing square so that it would meet the requirements outlined in the message I had received.
Eventually, I had rehabbed random squares from my collection into fifteen five-inch crochet squares:
and twenty-eight six-inch squares:
I suppose I could have woven in the ends, packed them up, and called it a day, but I was hooked on the idea and process of rehabbing crochet squares, and as I packed up my stuff for the impending move, I found more and more remnants, so I set myself a new goal.
A thousand crochet squares
As I worked to get my crochet holdings in order, I was faced with crochet remnant after crochet remnant. Twenty years of them.
There were small squares, large squares, and medium squares. There was an assortment of circles and dozens upon dozens of small crochet rosettes:
Pieces left over from designs I had worked on and ideas I had tried out that didn’t quite work. The list went on.
Box after box, bag after bag, and bin after bin. It seemed they all held some crochet dream that I had abandoned, but this opportunity to rehab the many crochet bits I had accumulated meant that I could have a new dream.
From purposelessness to purposefulness
With a new goal, I had a renewed sense of purpose.
The drudgery of packing for a move instead became a search for crochet remnants that could be elevated from “stuff in a bin” to the foundation of a blanket that would travel internationally.
The squares I rehab are arranged into blankets by volunteers from Project Amigo. Additional yarn is included, and the entire package then makes its way to Colima, Mexico, where the final assembly takes place and the squares achieve their transformation from “things with no particular purpose” to a vehicle for warmth and comfort.
With each square that I rehab, I think about the final destination, and I try to make it interesting and attractive. I also take care to make sure it is my best work and not just “good enough.” If someone allows my crochet into their home, I want it to be the best I have to offer.
I now have fewer than a hundred remnants I need to rehab in order to reach my goal of a thousand.
As for the crochet yo-yo at the beginning of this piece? It’s now rehabbed and ready for adventure: