My dad has always told me that once you learn to play a musical instrument you never forget how to play that instrument. And it’s true, I can still pick up a flute and all of the scales and songs that I learned during my playing years of high school come back to me as if I never stopped playing the instrument. The same situation is true about many different “hobbies” we find ourselves learning.
Lately, I’ve been revisiting not my musical hobbies but my yarn hobbies, as I’ve taken up crocheting again. It was a trait that my grandmother taught me when I was in the fourth grade. Grannie came from that generation of people who knitted and crocheted not for fun but for survival. Clothing, tablecloths, blankets – you name it and women during her era of life created all of those things and more from just a needle and thread.
After Grannie’s knee replacement back in the mid 90s she decided she too would take up crocheting again to pass recovery time. During the summer I spent many days sitting on the couch next to her and listening to her and my mother talk about a blanket she was working on. My favorite days were when she would “block” her patterns, laying out tons of granny squares on the bed, placing each one in order as she prepared to sew all of them together.
I was persistent that she teach me how to crochet. It looked like fun and I wanted to do everything she and mom could do.
The only problem is that I’m a southpaw – in fact I am so southpaw that most anything that needs to be done with my right hand is a lost cause. My grandmother and mother, both being right handed, were a little dumbfounded at first. How can they teach me in all my stubborn left-handed ways to crochet? Instead of trying to conform me to the way society said crocheting had to be done Grannie re-taught herself how to crochet left-handed. Then, patiently, over the course of a summer, taught me how to crochet. Together we made an afghan – granny squares composed of light pink centers, then white then dark purple then dark green for the edging – a combination of colors that worried Grannie at first but ended up turning out beautiful.
I would crochet pieces of the afghan left-handed then Grannie would come behind me and do some more right handed. The stitching is all off and you can not tell which side is the front or which side is the back, but it’s an afghan nonetheless. I treasure that blanket about as much as I do my dog and the odd Mickey Mouse, Santa, Pluto panting Grannie painted on a whim (another story for another day).
It’s been a while since I’ve really picked up crocheting. The other day I found a basket of yarn that I had always intended to turn into an afghan but never did. Isn’t that how our projects always start – we intend to complete them in a timely manner and then two years go by and you find the yarn in a box in your closet collecting dust? I picked up my crochet hook, bothered my mother with a bazillion questions about my stiches and pretty soon I had the hang of it once again.
Of course at this point the yarn I had is no longer carried in store at Walmart so I am scrambling to find a few extra rolls of Red Hart Antique yarn to complete my creation. Also my hands cramp a little bit more than usual when I complete my stitches. But one thing that hasn’t changed is my cats’ love for the yarn as it moves when I’m working.
Some traits you learn, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve picked it up, come back naturally.
Laura Pitts is a former Daily Mountain Eagle reporter, and currently serves as director of the Scottsboro Public Library.