The Crafty Chronic (1)

This is going to be the first in a series.

I do a LOT of crafts.

A Chronic has got to keep herself busy somehow!

This is the story of how I learned to crochet…

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Nic who was sick all the time. Her tummy hurt, her head hurt, she had just a touch of a fever, and she could sleep entire days away. Fourth grade wasn’t a hard year and Nic was smart, so she was able to keep up with her classmates even though she missed a whopping 40 days of school that year.

Nic’s mommy and step-daddy both worked, and though she was a plucky and resourceful 10 year old, she wasn’t allowed to stay home by herself (Nor would she have wanted to). Where was she to go?

Enter Yia Yia’s couch.

Yia Yia is the Greek name for Grandma, and she had come into Little Nic’s life along with her son, Nic’s step-dad. Yia Yia was an expert crochet-er, and could whip up an afghan the way some grandmas whip up cookies (Yia Yia made baklava at the holidays, weekday cookies not so much…). She was also known for making these funny little clown dolls that went along with the delicate multicolored baby blankets she sent to family and friends.

In addition to being a crocheting maven, Yia Yia was a big fan of the Soaps. As in Soap Operas, daytime television’s melodramatic, over-acted gift to stay at home moms, retirees and home-sick-from-school kids everywhere. Little Nic’s mom happened to think that the thematic elements present in soap operas were a little heavy for her cherubic young Chronic’s viewing. Yia Yia was not about to miss what was happening on the Days of Our Lives or As the World Turns just because she had a repeat visitor on her couch (really, I was there enough to claim squatter’s rights…). Pretending to be asleep and not listening to whose long lost twin brother was showing up to reek havoc in fictional Salem for a nearly 3 hour block of time got old quick, so it became apparent that I needed Something To Do.

The first thing I ever made was ridiculous. Yia Yia had a bit of leftover yarn in this horrible mustard yellow color, and she gave me that to use. She showed me how to wrap the yarn around my fingers, just so, while explaining that lots of people will just hold it willy-nilly but it’s much more efficient to do it her way. I’ve yet to meet anyone else who holds the yarn the way she taught me, but I will vouch for its effectiveness.

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the Yia Yia way

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the Willy-Nilly Way

Being the precocious 4th grader I was, I immediately took my project, by this time a few VERY CROOKED rows of single crochet, to school to show off at recess. I announced to anyone who would listen that the 12 inch wide strip was the beginning of a blanket I would put on my bed. I apparently started a frenzy, and the next thing you knew, all my friends wanted to try, and some went home and asked their grandmas to teach them to knit or crochet themselves. #TrendSetter As with anything 4th graders are interested in, everyone got bored with it about 2 weeks later.

Except for me.

Yia Yia may have laughed at my delusional declaration of afghan grandeur, explaining that my mustard yellow tangle of stitches was simply a sampler meant to help me learn, but I kept at it. Pretty soon, crooked hats and scarves were popping up under the Christmas tree for all of my immediate family members. Eventually, they got slightly straighter once I realized that counting stitches MATTERS. (I used to cry when I had to take stitches out. It’s really heartbreaking to do 42 rows and then realize the mistake was in row 3.)

Yia Yia died suddenly in when I was in 8th grade, right around the same time I started fainting all the time. I didn’t crochet for eons, whether from sadness or lack of time, I’m not sure. But the foundation was laid, and those stitches imprinted themselves on the back of my brain somewhere. Even now, I can go for a year (or two) of not making anything, and then pick it back up, no problem.

I love to make a good scarf- they are easy to sit down and make in the course of a few days. One year I made a bunch for some POTSie friends, and it was such a rush to send them out and say “I made this for you!”

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My current project. I’ve added cables to my pattern repertoire. #fancy

I make hats too, often that match the scarves. Why buy some generic thing at Target when you can make yourself something fantastic at home?

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Occasionally, I get ambitious. For instance, I once made a sweater. It was quite a laugh when it was all done. The sleeves were about 5 inches too long, the front was 5 inches too short. I’m not sure if there is anyone in the world who would have fit in my disproportionate concoction. I sure didn’t! Now I know that a “gauge” (a sample you make to ensure that your stitch size-everyone’s tension is slightly different- matches up with the pattern’s expectations) is not merely a suggestion. I wish I had a picture to show you, but alas, no evidence of my crime of fashion exists.

Slightly lower on the ambition scale (though still pretty up there) would be baby blankets. I have officially completed 3 of them. The knotted beginnings of fluffy pink matching blankets for my twin cousins are still in my closet, unfinished and a mess. Those twin girls are now in grade school and have no need for baby blankets. Unfortunately, good intentions don’t actually a blanket make. Their older brother was the happy recipient of my first ever baby blanket, which I finished as we were driving to his christening. Clearly, I have an issue with timing.

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Blanket for Baby C

Finally, finally, I did hunker down and make myself a blanket. It’s not mustard yellow or 12 inches wide (as yellow really isn’t my color, and let’s face it, no blanket that’s meant to cover humans has ever been 12 inches wide #MeasurementIssues #NoSenseOfScale). I started it in 2011 and finished it in 2014, as I start-stop-start-stopped it over and over again. I can’t tell you how AWESOME I felt when I finished. I admit I am that over zealous Crafty chick who’s like, “Oh, you like this? Yeah, I MADE IT!” to anyone who will listen. Now I have a blog and I can tell the world:

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Sprawled out on the floor so you can see it clearly =)

Oh, you like this? Yeah, I made it!

So yes, although she isn’t here to hear it, I am sending out a great big thank you to the universe for my Yia Yia, for giving me the gift that keeps on giving, the ability to be a Crafty Chronic. It’s made many a sick day on the couch go by faster, and has often given me Something To Do while I “avoid” the thematic elements of daytime TV.

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