Why I Create
by Ellen Anders
First and foremost, I am a crocheter. I always have at least 6 different crochet projects going at the same time – one in my car, another in my husband’s car, several more by the sofa for TV watching or family movie night, and a few that I need to concentrate on too much to do while watching a movie. I love the feeling of satisfaction that comes with finishing a project, even a simple scarf or hat. I also knit because it uses less yarn than a comparable crochet project, but crocheting is my favorite by far.
Crocheting is a great stress reliever, as is knitting. So many things in life are frustrating: long lines, a watched pot that won’t boil or a long wait at a doctors appointment. I can crochet a few rows, enter that zen spot of simultaneously being focused and also present, and before I know it I get my calm back. I have been known to wander around one of those big warehouse stores with a crochet tote over my shoulder, hook in hand. Crocheting in the warehouse has the added bonus of keeping my impulse purchases down which leaves some money for the craft store!
I first learned to crochet from my grandmother on my mother’s side. Nana was both a knitter and a crocheter; she knit sweaters and mittens but crocheted just about everything else. Nana did beautiful work including thread crochet tablecloths, table runners and doilies, crocheted baby blankets, hats, and scarves. I don’t remember exactly how old I was when my Nana taught me to crochet, but I was probably 6 or 7. As a child, my crochet projects were limited to granny squares, which I sloppily joined into afghans. I remember being proud of my afghans; I especially liked the multi-colored squares. My afghans weren’t anywhere near as nice as what Nana created, but then she had a lifetime of experience on me.
My Nana told stories about crocheting for every war the United States fought during her lifetime. Nana was born in 1910 and as a schoolgirl crocheted hats or scarves for sailors during WWI. WWII had Nana crocheting for the soldiers “over there.” Then there were projects for servicemen during the Korean War, Vietnam War, and operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. With this creative legacy, I can’t help but make blankets for cat cages at the animal shelter and afghans for kids at a hospital in an impoverished city. I also donate squares to Warm Up America, but find much more satisfaction in donating a completed project. I take great pleasure in making blankets for my friends and relative’s new babies as well as hats for my nephews and comforting shawls for friends recovering from surgery.
I love teaching others to crochet. Several times a year, a fellow crocheter and I went to my son’s elementary school class with directions, yarn and hooks to teach the kids to crochet. Each child made a crocheted bookmark, and had yarn, a hook, directions and some simple patterns to keep.
My Mom is a knitter. I can’t remember a time that my Mom wasn’t knitting. My Mom is also the only person I know who can knit, read a book and watch TV at the same time. Now that is multitasking! Swim practice found Mom up in the bleachers, knitting and reading a book. Mom knit simple (translation: ugly) pullover sweaters for us kids – nothing like the gorgeous green snowflake cardigan made by Nana, which I still wear. I still remember the elastic around the wrists of my Mom’s pullovers being so tight it cut off my circulation. Mom has the smallest wrists of any adult I’ve ever met; I’m sure the cuffs were just right for her! But, Mom’s homemade sweaters were warm, which I appreciated when playing outside in the snow. Mom also knit afghans consisting of panels made from leftover yarn. These afghans lived on the family room sofa and kept both people and cats warm throughout the winter.
With all this knitting going on, you would think I would have learned how to knit. Despite repeated attempts by my Mom to teach me to knit (and attempts by my Nana as well), I didn’t get the hang of knitting until I was 28. Thank goodness I could crochet though! As I’ve gotten older and more experienced, I’ve tackled harder projects: a lacy table runner for a sofa table, sweaters, shawls, hats and an afghan pieced together from tri-colored hexagons. As my competence has grown, so has my compulsion to create. My yarn stash covers several feet of my basement, the clear tubs beckoning to me to start my next project. So, pull up a hank of yarn and a size I hook and join me!
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