I need to moan about crochet.
As you do.
I have alluded to it in my previous post, and on Twitter and Facebook, because – well, you know me. I need to make a drama out of a crisis. Or something.
So I went to my first crochet class. At my favourite knitting/crochet/wool shop in the world – Knit One.
My teacher is the lovely Fiona. She is lovely for many reasons, but the main reasons she is lovely are that she is unflappable, and patient, and even when I shout ‘buggeration’ every few minutes, she does not let this worry her unduly.
When I went to my first knitting class I thought I would be a) terrible, b) impatient and c) inept. I was not terrible. I was not great either, but I came away with stuff on my needles that looked like knitting, which is way more than I had hoped for. I was not impatient. I would add a caveat here. Impatient for me that is. The girl who gave up recorder lessons after two sessions because I couldn’t play Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, so what was the point, impatient. I was not inept. I had knitting to prove it.
It gave me hope, knitted Obi Wan.
Since then, as you know, I have knitted things. I have knitted things that look like the things. This is very exciting to me. I realise that this is exciting to me in the same way that listening to The Archers is exciting to me, and that it is a niche excitement, but hey. At the age of 42, and with the diet going badly, four thousand letters from school on my desk and my only other excitement being vicarious living through other people’s baking, I take what I can get.
With all this using sticks and wool to make stuff experience under my belt I had high hopes for crochet. I thought that maybe I had overcome my inability to make my hands do different things from each other at the same time. The inability that has caused me untold grief with everything from learning to touch type to learning to drive, to patting my head and rubbing my belly at the same time.
I went in full of hope.
I came out deflated like a badly crocheted party balloon.
I am, it is fair to say – absolutely crap.
My friend Nicki said: ‘Yes. Yes. But you said you were crap at knitting and look what happened. Bring your crochet to show me.’ she said.
So I did.
My crochet at the end of the lesson consisted of a ball of chick yellow yarn and a crochet hook.
Neither of which were attached to each other.
‘Oh’. She said.
Then she patted me, in that sympathetic way.
Dearest reader. I could not get my hands to play ball. I could not, would not, get them to do all the things that were required of them, and the things that were required of them looked devilishly simple, but to me, they were fiendish difficult.
It very reminded me of the time I decided to try plastering my own kitchen wall. The phrase ‘How hard can it be?’ was bandied about. There were only three instructions.
I still have the scars from that plastering.
I say plastering like I actually achieved anything. What I actually achieved was ragingly high blood pressure, scraped knuckles and a large, bloody blob of plaster dropping from the wall to the floor in slow, jeering, drips.
By the end of an hour and a half of unsuccessfully trying to cast on, or whatever you call it in crochet language, I was feeling the same rising tide of blood pressure induced rage. My hands were sweaty, my patience was entirely nil, and my peace of mind was shattered to tiny shards of jagged self criticism.
I realised I was not helping myself. It is hard to do anything at all when you are fizzing over with fury. It does not aid gentle concentration or the ability to persevere. Mostly it aids your desire to either a) jab your crochet hook furiously into the nearest soft surface or b) lob it with all your might down the garden shouting: ‘Take that you unforgiving bastard.’
I decided that I would run counter to my initial instincts, which were to burn the evidence and never return to the scene of the crime. I decided I would go home, calm down with Bake Off, and then give it another go when I was alone and more receptive to learning.
I tried again yesterday morning. This time I put on some soothing music in the hope that this would distract my conscious mind enough to not get in the way of my unconscious learning. By the time I was half way through Massive Attack’s Mezzanine album I was stabbing the crochet hook into the air and swearing viciously.
Mrs. Jones, my most excellent friend who is a renaissance woman of the arts and crafts world, who can do everything, sent me a video on Facebook to help me.
It has helped.
A lovely lady on Twitter has sent me encouraging messages and pictures of her Goth granny square, which is excellent.
It has helped.
After cutting off my first eighteen attempts from my already quite small ball of yarn yesterday, I returned to the scene of the crime. I showed Fiona my new (to me) technique. She said it was much better than my old technique. This is true, because my old technique was unpicking large, greying holes from a ball of yarn. We decided a larger hook and new yarn might help. I took them home.
This morning’s project is to give it another go, and try to get past casting on. and not implode with rage at myself.
It is a small thing, I know, but to me it is important for lots of reasons.
I think it is important to keep learning new things. I don’t want to turn into one of those fossilised women who stopped learning stuff at a young age and thinks that life has stopped offering me stuff because I know everything I need to know. We stay young, in my inexpert opinion, by challenging ourselves and by never giving up on learning.
I don’t want to be one of those people who ‘can’t’ do things. I suspect that there are indeed many things I can’t do. I doubt I will be an astronaut, but that’s ok. Space bores me rigid. I doubt I will be a swimwear model. That’s ok. I have no desire whatsoever to take my clothes off in public (huge sigh of relief from entire universe, knocks cat over in next road). There are, however, tons of things I can do, but that I don’t actually know how to do yet. I don’t think I can legitimately encourage my children to keep being brave and keep trying new things if I don’t lead by example every now and again.
I don’t want to be frightened of stuff that really isn’t frightening. I spent many of my childhood years like that kid in Betsy Byars’ book; ‘The Eighteenth Emergency’, terrified out of my wits of even the most unthreatening things. It stopped me doing a lot of stuff that with hind sight, I would have really enjoyed. It carried over into my adult life, and when my mental state is not at its healthiest it rears its ugly head and whispers all the things I can’t do and the things that might go wrong, and what will happen if I fail.
That’s rubbish. I know that, with my rational, grown up brain, and every time I do something I told myself I couldn’t do, every time I do something I have weird, irrational fears about, I sit a little harder on that stupid, pointless voice that stops me doing things I would enjoy.
I will enjoy crochet, if it is the last bloody thing I do on this earth, and by crikey – it might well be.