Thursday, June 23, 2005

My Crochet Story....Caution, Long & Boring

Once upon a time, long long looooong ago.....ok, fine, I'm not that old, I just feel that way. Actually, my crochet story did begin a long time ago with....who else? grandmother (or Granny, as we called her). I can't remember ever seeing her crochet, but I have fond memories of the results. She was also a pretty decent knitter, too. My favorite gift from her was a navy blue zip up sweater with a kitten on it, one for each of us. Since we are triplets, and everyone gave us 3 of the same thing all the time, we thought it was sooooo cool that she gave each kitten a different colored ribbon around it's neck. I seem to recall the zipper always getting stuck, too. Sigh. I wish I still had that sweater.
But, I digress. My mom also crocheted when I was growing up. She once made these beautiful lacy dresses for each of us. Then she bought a sewing machine and I didn't see anything crocheted for years. But, everytime she tried to quit smoking, a new afghan appeared in the house. Oh, the afghans. They spilled out of the closets. They were mostly done in the chevron style. I think I still have a few somewhere.
I think I was about 19 or so when I had my 1st crochet lesson. I was a newly single mom, and I was...big surprise....trying to quit smoking. My sister tried teaching me a few things. I say "tried", because she really had no idea what she was doing. I think we were able to come up with a sloppy chain, and then 1 or 2 rows of not-quite-right single crochets. That was that. I didn't pick up a hook for a few years.
I realized one day that I had a box full of crochet patterns, yarn and hooks leftover from my Granny. I'm not sure why I had them, but my family likes to move around a lot in the same city (good exercise, I suppose) and we always seemed to end up with each other's boxes. I opened up one of the pattern binders and.....well, I didn't look twice. It was a foriegn language! There was no WAY I could read those patterns! But, I was trying to quit smoking....again....and I decided to give crocheting another try. I started to make an afghan just making it up as I went. I really still had no idea what I was doing, but it wasn't too bad. At first, it worked great. I had to concentrate on what I was doing, so I couldn't smoke at the same time. But, like all great addicts, I eventually adapted so that I could actually crochet with a smoke in my hand. Sure, a few ashes got on my work, but no big deal. When I finally realized that it wasn't helping me quit, I gave up.
I worked on a few more projects over the years. Mostly baby blankets. I have discovered that I am NOT an afghan maker. I have no patience for it. I have never once finished on.
Besides, by this point I was married to a soldier who was in Afghanistan and we had a new baby, so all I really wanted to crochet was camoflauge baby blankets for every new army mom I knew. I was quitting smoking again. Notice that I don't say "trying" this time? I was really quitting. I was up to 2 packs a day. My health was not good. I had to suck on a cough drop just to have a smoke. I could feel my chest rattle when I breathed. I was only 26. Then, my husband in Afghanistan called to tell me that he had run over a landmine. He was fine, but I think I smoked another extra pack that day (I think he did, too). I was driving down the road the next day with my kids, coughing and hacking and turning red, and I thought "Oh my God, my husband is going to get killed over there, and I won't live past 35 at this rate. The kids will be orphans and it will be all my fault." So, I pulled the car into the 1st grocery store I saw, bought the patch and slapped it on. I never had another smoke. That was 3 years ago this month.
From then on, crocheting was just for fun. Shortly after hubby returned home, we were packed up and moved across the country. Oh, the joys of army life. I found myself living on a training base. Nobody wants to be friends with anyone else there, because they know they won't be there long. Horrible, horrible attitudes. I was always hiding at home. So, I busied myself crocheting.....more baby blankets. One night, on a whim, I thought it might be exciting (our ideas of excitement were pretty low at that point) to try and ....get this...crochet something besides a square! Whooooo! That's scary, huh? I figured it was about darn time I learned how to read a pattern. I took out Granny's old pattern binders, and started staring at patterns. I just kept looking at them till they sorta made sense. Then I grabbed a hook and started playing. It was GREAT! I was actually decoding the secret crochet language!
Ok, now fast forward another base, new house, etc, etc. Hubby has gone BACK to Afghanistan. My oldest (10 at the time) had gone to visit her Granny for the summer. I am left alone with a 2 year old, a dog and a new cat (1st time cat owner). Now, I like to think that I am a fairly sane and rational person. I don't walk downtown wearing my clothes backwards and speaking to all the bricks in the buildings like they were long lost friends. But, when I worry a bit, I get a bit crazy. When I worry a lot, I get a lot crazy. My mind likes to make up completely irrational things to worry about. The 1st Afghanistan tour, I was convinced the house was haunted. This time, though, was really crazy. I knew, KNEW, my house was going to fall down. Everytime a truck drove by and shook the house, I was convinced it would crumble down around us, killing us all. Actually, I figured I would be spared, just so I would have to live with the guilt of not having moved into a motel when we still could. I would spend entire nights laying awake in fear that the house would fall before morning.
I had enough! I refused to live like that another second. I needed an outlet. Enter crochet hooks. That was also right about the time that the 1st ponchos started showing up in stores. I decided to make a poncho for my oldest. I didn't even bother with a pattern, since I could just use my trusty squares to make it. It turned out OK. I improved the design a bit, then made one for myself. Then one for my youngest. And one for my neice....and so on. Soon, I had more ponchos that I knew what to do with. I had already been Ebaying for about a year, so just for fun I listed a few ponchos. I couldn't beleive it. They sold for HUGE amounts of money. I thought these people were nuts for spending that much. I mean really, no poncho cost me more that a few bucks to make, and I could throw them together so fast. So, I kept going....and going and going and going. I made ponchos till nobody wanted to buy ponchos anymore. Then I came up with a design for toddler halter tops. More gobs of money on those. Now, nobody wants halters, so I am working on sweaters. Basically, I am a bandwagon whore. If it's in style, I will create it.
So, in short, this is my job now. I still work outside the house part-time (just to see the light of day once in while) and I do a bit of freelance with graphic design, but my main income comes from crocheting. No, I don't make a fortune. But, I LOVE it! I am finally making money off of my art. It feels great. I get new ideas on a daily basis. I just wish I had more arms.
But, enough about me....ok, so, it's ALL about me. So sue me.


Blogger Smitha said...

Hi Tara,

It was fun and so nice reading the story. :)

7:55 a.m.  

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