This time five years ago, I picked up a hook for what was probably the 100th time to attempt to crochet. ” ‘Cos that’s what Mum’s do”. And on this day, five years ago, I was waiting to be a Mum. I. Was. HUGE.
It was snowing and I was bored. I mean crawling the walls with boredom. If I watched one more episode of “One Born Every Minute” I was going to seriously chin someone. I wanted my baby already.I loved being pregnant, and playing games with my unborn daughter… but I’d read all my maternity leave novels, packed and unpacked and repacked my hospital bag, gazed out wistfully at the “most snowfall since 1970-something”… There’s only so much you can do when you’re basically a human Weeble.
I had made my darling “Mumble” a knitted blanket already, a little one, and since this was the day the “experts” had declared she should be ready to come out to play, my bag was already packed waiting and ready, complete with this teeny, stripy, yarny offering of handmade loveliness. So I was technically all set.
But I’m not the kind of person who can sit around and do nothing. I’m not very good at waiting. I’m not very good at being patient. And I simply can’t survive for long without doing something crafty. Scrap-booking and painting just takes too much tidying up and since the whole point was to be ready to go as soon as my contractions began to resemble labour. It needed to be something portable.
So in my usual, gentle, empowering manner I told myself to stop being such a div and just bloody do it. I can sculpt, paint, draw, knit… crochet was not going to defeat me. So I borrowed a hook from my mum, and gathered together some yarn from her dubiously pastel coloured stash (hmmm.) and started chaining.
After a few false starts, A simple “granny square” began to form in my fingers. It was a big magical really. Suddenly I could crochet! The pile of one square soon grew into several, and the part of me that has NEVER been happy with being like everyone else decided I’d do something a little different for the last one. A square of simple single crochet rows. After a little guidance, the squares became crocheted together, and a border worked around the outer edge. This happened over the space of the next few days. I wasn’t going anywhere. It wasn’t as if I could fit behind the steering wheel of my car anymore.
This blanket was twice the size of the knitted one. My daughter now had two handmade blankets in my hospital bag, each stitch formed with love and anticipation of her arrival. I was ready. Not much longer and my daughter would start her journey into the world. She arrived and she was AWESOME. (She still is, by the way just like my son. )
It would be weeks of sleepless nights, mastitis, milk fever and colic before I picked up my hook again to make anything at all. I was walking in circles with my girl in my arms, trying to settle her poor hurty tummy. I was walking in circles purely so I didn’t get lost. I was so tired, like the parent of every newborn brought into the world, I was sleep deprived and emotional. I needed to do something to make my brain work. This was the night that I discovered that the helpline for parents and carers of crying sleepless babies out of their minds with fatigue closes at 10pm. (I remember sobbing at this revelation). *facedesk*
So it began with a ball of yarn and a hook. I worked whilst I walked, around and around in circles, making a free-form dress for my girl. Why free form? I didn’t have a pattern for what I wanted to make, even if my brain HAD have been capable of reading the words and making sense of them.
I had a picture in my head. That was all.
Why a dress? With her being snuggled against my chest, and the only measurement I could check being her back, I wasn’t going to upset her more by trying to measure her feet. I had no clue whether it would fit, but really more a tool to get my focus away from the pain wracking my daughters little body, to turn the volume of her tired, angry cries to a level I could cope with. This would be a coping mechanism, nothing more.
I was kinda past caring whether “Mumble” would ever wear the thing I was making… my hook just worked, fairly mindlessly, forming stitches I didn’t yet know the names of, making clusters of stitches I would many months later find in pattern books. I calculated in my head how many stitches I needed to increase on each row and round to form the shape I wanted. I made them. That’s really as simple as it was at the time.
The dress eventually fitted my beautiful baby as her tiny body began to grow. Again, the crochet was intermittent, just trying different stitch combinations as blankets. I made a huge granny square blanket from lots of different scraps of yarn, but not much else.
From such simple beginnings, my love of crochet began. <3
Then I became pregnant with my son. It wouldn’t be until just before that Christmas, when heavily pregnant I would begin to make something other than blankets, and eventually find my affinity for making hats.