Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Grandmother Used to Crochet

I learned to crochet in fifth grade.  A school project involved learning a new skill and demonstrating it to the class.  Since my grandmother taught me to knit when I was seven, it wasn't a new skill, I couldn't use knitting.  Crocheting seemed much more manageable anyway.  There's only one live stitch to be concerned with and granny-squares were cool in my ten-year-old mind.  I remember bugging my mother for a couple of weeks before she finally, very reluctantly, sat down with me with yarn and hooks.  Even though Mom sewed, knit and crocheted, it wasn't a skill she wanted her daughters to learn.  She wanted us to have careers and those old-fashioned crafts didn't have a place in our future lives.  (Of course that didn't stop her from scolding us when we didn't know how to hem our pants properly or fix a button neatly.)  I think I got the hang of crocheting fairly quickly. I was able to master the basic stitches in a couple of days and was making red and white granny squares...many many red and white granny squares.

Twenty-four years later, I taught my oldest daughter's Girl Scout troop to crochet.  I remember it being a long meeting, since, none of the other moms knew how and I was teaching them too.  Last month, I taught another set of Girls Scouts to do the same.  I've been these girls' leader since kindergarten and I felt that since they were the same age as I was, they were ready to wield hooks.

I taught M to crochet the night before the meeting.  That was definitely a smart move.  Like me, she picked it up fairly quickly and was ready to help her troop-mates the next day.  My friend, Angela, could crochet and she stayed on to help.  Thank God!  By the end of the 1 1/2 hour meeting, only 2 girls other than M and Angela's daughter had advanced beyond the chain stitch.  (My co-leader did enjoy herself.  She was able to progress to her second round of the granny-square.)

M's first granny square
I always assumed that since I learned needle crafts quickly as a child, other children would be the same too.  Aren't kids supposed to learn new tricks easily?  Maybe I waited too long, maybe I would've been more successful if I taught the girls while they were still Brownies. The most frustrating thing to come out of the experience is that the Girl Scout Council has discontinued the "Yarn and Fabric Arts" badge for Junior Scouts

Yarn and Fabric Arts badge for Junior Girl Scouts
There's still badges for cooking, jewelry-making, gardening, writing, photography, geocaching, drawing...  The list is pretty long.  There's activities for a girl's self-esteem, the environment, camping, staying fit.  I don't understand why they had to get rid of the Fiber Arts badge.  It's not easy for most girls these days to learn about sewing and knitting.  Their moms don't know how and there isn't anybody close to teach them.  It  frustrates me that a lot of people view knitting and sewing as old fashioned, dying arts.  Isn't it easier  and cheaper to buy our knitted goods and garments from the store?  Of course it's easier.  But think of the joy and comfort we spread when we give our hand-knit or hand-quilted gifts to our friends and family, the sense of satisfaction when one completes a project. 

I'm one of those people who need to always have a project going.  It doesn't have to be yarn or fiber related.  I love the feeling of accomplishment when I finish something, be it a sweater or tiled shower.  These projects are a source of creative outlet and also an expression of love for my family.

I know I'm rambling.  I'll try not to bite the head off of the next person who says, "My grandmother used to crochet!"  When I'm observed knitting in public.

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