A Surprising Turning Point
I came to Maine to be with my husband (a native Mainer) in 2011 after I finished college. I studied graphic design and illustration. Yarn was never on my radar until Chris and I moved into our first itty bitty rental apartment together and we received a humble housewarming gift from one of Chris’s co-workers. It was a crocheted doily.
I couldn’t have told you the difference between knitting and crochet, and I could never have distinguished cotton from wool by touch. I’d never even known a knitter in all my life. If you’d asked me about knitting (or crochet), I’d have tentatively supposed that it was a craft forgotten since the Victorian era at least.
But we had received this simple doily crocheted out of your standard mercerized cotton crochet thread, purported to be genuinely hand-made. Frankly, I thought Chris must have been mistaken at first. Surely a machine had made it. How could a human make such a thing? How would one begin to learn and where would one ever find the time? Naturally, my Google instinct kicked in. I Google everything that I don’t know. I’m not sure what search terms I entered initially, but it may have been “Do people really crochet in 2011?”
That gift was a turning point in my life.
I was off and running within a day or so, armed with some cheap acrylic yarn, a Susan Bates crochet hook from Walmart, and YouTube tutorials. I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a pattern initially, and the inefficient gestures I used might have horrified a seasoned crocheter (I grabbed the loop of yarn between my fingernails and tugged it over the hook until my fingertips were sore).
The first thing I crocheted was a rug for my living room. I was still looking for a job, so I had a lot of time on my hands. I worked on that thing every day for a month, making it up as I went along. I didn’t have a plan, so I began with a skein or two. I returned to Walmart for more, wondering if I looked weird filling up my shopping basket with yarn. I bought out all the yarn in the color that I wanted after a few trips, so I had to drive to the Walmart in Augusta in order to proceed.
It became a full-on addiction in the course of that first project. I sat on my floor with my laptop in front of me day after day. I watched documentary films while crocheting for hours. My studio was the tiny bedroom (closet?) upstairs in our apartment. It felt kind of like my very own treehouse.
As it turns out, making things with my hands makes me feel like I’m on top of the world. Nothing delights me more. Chris’s co-worker changed my life, and I don’t even know her.