Unravel This

My work

My work

My mother has attempted to teach me to crochet in the past and that didn’t end well. There may have been tears. There definitely were heated words. Yarn and a crochet hook may have been thrown across the room. That last part is up for debate.


Yet, I enjoy the crocheted blankets my mother has made for me in the past as well as the crocheted and knitted hats and scarfs from friends that have found their way into my closet and on my body. There is beauty and love in these handmade items that can’t be replicated by machines in a factory. While I have learned much from my mother from baking to flower arranging and wreath making (though bows remain a problem), crocheting has not made reappearance. But I admit to longing and a bit of jealousy when I watch one of my friends take out her yarn and needles or once during a boring session at a conference when a woman knitted throughout it. It’s something you can do while watching TV, talking to a friend or contemplating life.


This time, I admit to bringing a lesson upon myself.


While in Hobby Lobby with my mother, my younger sister Mitzi and I looked at yarn and wondered how much Mom would need to create things for us as we held out different yarns and colors. I wandered off and returned to ask Mitzi if she settled on yarn. Mitzi said that Mom had suggested teaching her to crochet it herself. I shrugged my shoulders and said that we should probably learn. Ever eager to teach us, Mom offered to buy us our first hooks and let us practice on yarn leftover from an afghan she just finished for a niece.


That night, Mom settled herself on the couch between Mitzi and me. Mom’s fingers flashed as her crochet hook moved in and out of the yarn, creating loops and knots. Show me, fine. But I won’t remember unless my hands do it along with yours or as you tell me. Soon Mitzi and I set off chaining. Mom had us pull it out and start over trying to get the tension right on the yarn, which looped around my crooked down pinkie, over my index finger that flipped off the world. But my pinkie didn’t want to crook. It wanted to stick out like the tea-sipping elite. My middle finger, which for years she had insisted that I not use against the world, refused to flip off my father, who sat across from us in the overstuffed chair and laughed at the three of us.


Chaining became easier but then came stitching chains together. After an hour of working on it, I put it down for the night.


Then next morning as Mom examined our work, she looked at Mitzi’s and called it pretty good. She looked at mine and pulled it apart.


“No jury or judge in the world would convict me,” I told her as I watched her laugh and take apart my work.


“Let me just show you,” she said, whipping off a chain of 20 in 10 seconds.


“How am I supposed to learn? I can’t learn with you doing it!”


Across the room, my sister sat singing a song about her neutered dogs’ hairy butts and their lack of hairy balls.


I think my father has decided that it’s best to remain silent when his immediate world spins outside of decorum.


Eventually, I was able to put together a row of stitches of which Mom approved. But overall, my attempt resulted in a square with its misshapen corners, ruffled edges and uneven stitching.


Now, excuse me while I unravel it and start again.