a Yarn about Yarn

This is a story of my journey into the realm of yarn based handicrafts.

It has been a long, sleepy journey, with few events of notice and very little yield. Until recently….

back story:

I was never around anyone who knit or crocheted regularly until my early twenties when my mother took up crocheting blankets. Side note: my mother is a seamstress and I grew up helping her with any and all kinds of sewing projects.

fast forward:

I am a young homeschooling mother, getting herself and her children involved in the living history hobby as a part of our education. Side note: sometime before this point I had learned to sew myself, and developed that skill.

sometime later:

We are fully immersed in our now whole-family living history hobby. (Marco missed us on event weekends and soon joined in on the fun.) I have sewn historically accurate clothing for my entire crew. With the help of my mother and neighbor, I have taught my daughter, Amelia, to sew and she is sewing most of her own historical clothing. While we are at living history events, Amelia is learning handicrafts from our hobbyist friends such as knitting, crocheting, tatting, drop spinning, and quilling. I then decide it would be advantageous and fun to learn to knit myself. I was dreaming of making historically accurate accessories as well as things for our modern day-to-day lives.

With my youngest son at a local living history event.

basic knit stitch:

I first learned a basic knit stitch and took off making scarves. Nothing more than extremely long rectangles. Very underwhelming, for my age and self induced expectations. I never felt comfortable knitting, except for using the huge needles and fuzzy yarn to make then trendy scarves. In my opinion, that was not a good stopping place on my knitting journey. To me, that was crafty, not handicraft. (I may explain further my ideas and personal understanding about HANDICRAFTS in a future post: making a note of that on my ‘Blog Post Ideas’ page in my bullet journal now…).

I mastered, in my own awkward way, that basic knit stitch and decided it was time to learn a new stitch. PEARL. With the hopes of making a basket weave pattern Sontag. That should be easy, right? Knit four, pearl four and few times then pearl four, knit four, etc. One problem. I could not get my arms and hands and fingers to cooperate. I felt awkward, tense, and stressed when trying.

introduced to magical knitting:

Then I watched my friend Ms. Judy knit, and she did so with such grace and flowing ease of movement. She looked relaxed and the yarn was practically flying off her fingers. I was mesmerized. Curious, I asked her to show me how she pearls. I watched her as if she was a magical knitting fairy godmother, she made the pearl stitch, something that had tormented me, look so beautifully simple! After some discussion and researching, I found out she was knitting English style and I had been taught Continental. I tried to learn English style on the spot. And failed miserably.

I had an idea. Set knitting down for a lengthy amount of time, to forget what I had learned. I mean, it works with math, so why not try? After a couple of years I pick up my needles with a blank slate of knitting know how and attempt to learn the English style.

And failed miserably.

I decided that there are many handicrafts under the sun, and that I can let knitting belong to the better coordinated beings, and fairy godmothers. And decided I should try to learn crochet one day in the hopes that one hook would be better than two needles in my uncoordinated hands.

fast forward to present day, umpteen years later:

January 2021, on a whim, I decide to try crochet. My sister-in-law is visiting one day and she is working on a project and she shows me how to double-crochet. So easy!!! I was relaxed, it was comfortable, and even fun! My hopefulness builds. I know how to slip stitch. (How I know that remains a mystery.) The next day, armed with my unexplained knowledge of the slip stitch, a hook and yarn in hand, I walk across the street to visit my 82 year old neighbor. She sat down and taught me how to single crochet, and reviewed double crochet, and how to start and turn a row. I was ready to try on my own. I came home and crocheted an only slightly wonky rectangular washcloth of interpretive design, using single and double crochet. I then had to go for another visit to learn how to tie off a completed project.

Next, I tried another similar washcloth and made another visit to learn how to edge my little square. (Well, almost square.) I decided to get serious now that I was comfortable holding the hook and yarn. I started a small washcloth and only used single crochet to ‘hone in my skill’. I am happy to report it was QUITE square, and evenly edged. I only then did I allow myself to order a small quantity of cotton yarn and committed to make a few of these simple square washcloths before moving onto adding to my skill set. I made one more while waiting for the new yarn.

the next day, which happens to be today:

On a WHIM, I spend an hour watching a YouTube tutorial on how to crochet a flat circle. And after many false starts, I succeed in making my very first and very neatly done crocheted circle… I am giddy! and visions of wool yarn, cotton fabric topped coasters are dancing in my head.

I walk over to my neighbor’s again to show her my circle (I had shown everyone in my household already) and tell her of my coaster visions. She went up to her craft room and came down with armloads of hand dyed wool yarn. She tells me about going ‘to a farm’ for a class, buying the yarn and learning how to dye it on site. She offered me the yarn, because she had yet to use it. And because it is green and wool and I hold my breath and hope that one day I may actually *gasp* crochet a blanket, I accept the offer thankfully! After some inquiry and discussion, I discover she had gone to my friend’s farm! A family we met and befriended through our homeschool history group and local living history events many years ago have a sheep farm. And they are the family who first interested me in yarn handicrafts! How is that for a full circle story on the day I crochet my first circle??

Wool yarn gifted to me by my neighbor!

My journey into yarn based handicrafts is well beyond the dark and mysterious Forest Road, and the sun now shines upon my brow and I see the rolling hills of creativity before me.

(I know I promised a post without books, but I could not help at least ONE literary reference)

what’s next…

The next post I plan to compose will be ALL ABOUT what I am planning to read in 2021 and why. Also, I am considering reviving my old YouTube account to share videos.. maybe a tour of my newly arranged home library.. instead of sharing that content on Instagram. As much as I have been blessed by and enjoyed Instagram these past years, it is just not quite as charming as it used to be. I am trying to keep my account and time on there filled with the-Good-and-the-beautiful and hope to hang on to the best bits of that social media platform for a while longer!

Also, I discovered today that my long-time-since-we’ve-connected sheep farming friends now have a website. I assume they took this step because of canceled local events due to the 2020 shut-downs. I am going to share the link here in case anyone is more skilled at yarn handicrafts, and is looking for quality wool yarn, and would like to support a small family business. If you talk to Carolyn or James, tell them Hilda said hello! I am aiming to reconnect with them sometime this year when I have made my green wool blanket and am in need of more yarn myself. That’s my crochet dream, anyway!

a knitted shawl, wrapped around the bodice of a woman’s dress

sontag

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