An adventure in crochet.
Where it all began
I first learned to crochet in the late 1990s. At the time, I lived in Bella Vista, a small (very small) town east of Redding, California. Now and again, I would go into “the city” and it was there, at what was then Redding’s premier bookstore, that I found a book of crochet patterns that captured all of my crochet aspirations.
The obviously well-loved book was a used hardcover copy of Better Homes and Gardens Crocheting & Knitting first published in May of 1977.
Upon seeing the cover, I was smitten.
The book was 21 years old , and the patterns in it were vintage 1970s.
A number of the projects in the book spoke to me, but the one with the loudest and clearest voice was an afghan that was featured on the cover. It made manifest in crochet the many dreams I had for my life.
I don’t know how to explain the fact that a series of loops worked in unnaturally bright colors is for me both a revelation and celebration of my soul, but it is, and when I saw the afghan on the cover, I knew that I wanted to make one for myself.
My first effort didn’t go very well.
I was new to crochet, and the directions were not really a pattern, but an approximation of a pattern.
The granny squares I made did not look like the pictures in the book. Sometimes they were too ruffled. Sometimes the tension was off. Sometimes the instructions were just plain wrong, and I didn’t now how to translate what I saw with my eyes into a motif made with my hook.
Complicating matters further, I had not yet developed the experience and visual vocabulary necessary to identify the stitches that had been used to make the granny squares that made up the blanket.
It would be years before I learned to “reverse engineer” crochet pieces from photos and then accurately write crochet directions.
So I put the pieces I had made in a zippered plastic bag, and I set it aside because even though I wasn’t willing to put any more time into a project that wasn’t turning out as I had hoped, I also wasn’t willing to give up my dreams of a technicolor crochet afghan.
A lot happened in the years that followed.
I left California and moved to Wilson, North Carolina. Seven years later I moved fifty miles west to Raleigh, and it was when I lived in Raleigh, that I finally had both the time and the skills needed to make the afghan that had so thoroughly captured my imagination. With a large stash of brightly colored acrylic yarns, I got to work.
Some of the squares came easily. Others required much working and reworking.
In the late afternoon light on the deck of the house where I lived at the time, I would pull out the “big eye” magnifying glass I had gotten for Christmas when I was six, study the stitches, then make an attempt to create a square that looked like the one in the picture.
After just four months of concerted effort, I finally finished “The Afghan That Eluded Me”
It was everything I thought crochet should be and more, and whenever I use it, I am reminded of the value and persistence in pursuing my dreams for the future.