Lifestyle: Why I Love Crochet

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As autumn begins to creep between the sheets of the southern hemisphere, Chloe Mayne (re)discovers a woolly way to fill the time:

After a long summer of luxuriating in sandy toes, salty hair and late evenings with the windows thrust open, when the first day of rain beached up on Tasmanian shores I found myself feeling oddly stranded. The lure of the outdoors was beginning to lose its sheen, and while digging out all of my jumpers and cardigans from the bottom drawer I felt thirsty to learn something new, something to help those evenings at home feel a little more fruitful. Elbow deep in knitted garments, I decided it might as well be crochet. An hour later, I was exiting the aisles of the craft store with three two-dollar balls of acrylic under my arm.

I’m not as patient as I’d like to be. When I decide I want to learn something, I usually want to learn it as quickly as possible. One hook, one ball of yarn; crochet seemed simple enough. I began by Googling ‘easy crochet projects’ like purses and socks, only to find myself stranded in a wilderness of numbers and abbreviations. Accepting the fact that those crochet slippers my grandparents forced upon me at Christmas were actually works of art, I demoted myself to learning a single stitch. As I scrolled through pages of Wikihow articles, however, the gentle curve of that hook began to take on an almost sinister look. The ability of this pair of bedfellows to spin out doilies and Peter Pan collars was baffling.

As the sun pushed itself behind the mountain and frustration began to nip at my fingers, I unravelled my tiny woolly mess and turned to Youtube. After a few more blunders, I came across this video. At almost an hour long it was one of my last choices, but I found the approach slow and cheerful, easing me through the process like my grandma did when she taught me as an eight-year-old by the living-room fire. The way she vocally repeated the stitches – double, slip, loop – gave the process a lovely rhythm. By the end of the video, I had cobbled together one so-called granny square. By brunch the next day, I had two:

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Three days later, I had this:

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From there, the hobby unravelled almost unconsciously. One of the most magical things about crochet is that it requires only the bare minimum of mental exertion, making it the perfect thing to dabble in during lectures, while listening to music in the garden, catching the bus or even drinking with friends. It seems to amplify my concentration, and it sure beats scrolling through my smartphone. If I tuck the ball of wool under my armpit I can even hula hoop and crochet at the same time!

Perhaps more importantly, what’s since amazed me about crochet is its capacity to soothe. The months previous to my picking up the hobby had been trying to say the least, and as I worked my way through spirals of colour, the activity of my fingers helped my mind rest and breathe. Deep and sombre reds melted into fiery purple and icecream baby blue. The effect of colour and repetition on the psyche is almost meditative, and my little drawstring bag of hook and wool has very quickly become my go-to when I’m feeling stressed or anxious. On one particularly grey day I spent the entire morning untangling yarn, and that afternoon bore three squares. It’s pretty great to watch the emotional unwinding become something tangible, small and often meaningful components stitched together to create a big blanket to keep you warm in the winter.

Three weeks on, I’m almost finished those first three balls of acrylic and have a growing depository of colours under my bed to move onto next. I’m not yet sure what I’m going to do with all of these knitted squares, but I could hardly say that I mind. Go and grab your needles, folk. Viva la crochet!

Chloe Mayne

 

Words by Chloe Mayne.