My start in sewing was a traditional one. My mother began teaching me when I was 8 by stepping me through various projects. My high school sewing class taught me more and trial and error over the years has taught me the most. Throw in some books and a determination to draft patterns from scratch and I can now tell people that I know how to sew. My start in crochet was a little different.
About 15 years ago, I was admiring a collection of pretty snowflake decorations on a corporate Christmas tree display. They were delicate looking, unique and, upon closer inspection, I saw they were beautifully crocheted. I wanted some for my own tree so I asked the security clerk behind the concierge desk if he knew where they came from or where they could be purchased. He shook his head and said "you don't buy those, you make them". The 'but I can't' went off in my head. Mind reader or face reader, I don't know, but he followed it up with "You can make them too. My mom does. It isn't too hard she says." To this day I remember that short exchange in a downtown office building as the beginning of crochet for me. A quirky start-up story and I am sharing it only because that was what inspired me to learn how to crochet. I didn't know how, wanted something that required me to know how, and a nice man thought to tell me that I could learn. Simple. Obvious. Why didn't I think of that? Of course I can.
I went home that day and did an internet search for crochet snowflakes. They looked hard to me but as things always go, my search piqued my interest in some other crochet item, then another, then another. I was inspired to learn how to crochet by all the projects I saw. I did a search for 'how to crochet' and found a site that gave step by step instructions on how to get started. I bought a skein of yarn and a hook and followed the tutorials over and over. I shortly became annoyed. I wasn't making a snowflake. In fact, I wasn't making anything at all. I decided that I needed a project for a beginner to practice on and went looking. There were plenty of free online projects but I wanted a professional hard copy pattern I could carry around, with pictures, and clear instructions to baby me along. Back to the shop I went and settled on an aran looking carry-all bag pattern. I bought the yarn specified, a set of hooks and then attacked the project with great enthusiasm. In hindsight, I should have made a scarf or blanket or something to start but, well, me being me, I just couldn't keep it that simple. I think I ripped it back a bazillion times but I continued making the bag, followed through completely and did, in fact, end up with a rather smart looking piece at the end of it. I think I used it once but the finished bag proved I could crochet. Many items followed, each getting better and better and more and more complex as I learned new techniques and stitches with each project. Then I started changing the patterns a little as I went along. Then I was meshing 2 or 3 patterns together to make it the way I wanted. Then, it happened. A family member was expecting their first child and I wanted to make something special for the baby. I decided I had to create my own pattern and I designed my first piece. It was a toddler size aran blanket using lots of cables. I was massively proud of it when it was done (it was gorgeous) and I very happily gifted it shortly before the baby was born. I went from seeing an ornament to a self-designed aran blanket in what time frame? 10 months. Really.
The designing hasn't stopped yet. Nothing I do is cutting edge or could ever be called a wildly artistic masterpiece. I create things I like and, sometimes, other people like them too. When someone asks if I will make 'one of those' for them, contacts me for a special blanket, or asks me for my pattern, I feel flattered and, inexplicably, validated. These requests often make me think about the snowflake ornaments that caught my attention years ago and the security guard that told me I could make them myself. The man has no idea what he did that day. It would be nice if I could tell him but I don't know where or who he is so instead, I am putting it out there with the hope that the affection I have for him reaches him in some karma-ish way. As peculiar as my beginning in crochet was, the oddest part of the story is that I haven't crocheted a snowflake yet. Really.