Why I (Still) Love Crochet
<--My sock yarn granny square last week.
Years ago, back when we were living on Long Island, a neighbor said this to me: "Rich women needlepoint; the rest of us crochet."
I remember the statement very clearly, some 30-something years later. At the time I was 24, married, unemployed, and living in our very first house. A house, I might add, that had pretty much come down around our ears. (We had to re-wall every room, re-wire, re-floor, re-ceiling, put down flooring . . . I could go on but I'll spare you. It was a rude introduction to the joys of home ownership, I can tell you that.)
Anyway, I was and have always been an avid crocheter. It was the first needle art I learned (from my mother, at about 5 years old) and the one to which I always return. Crocheting for me is like breathing. I do it fast, well, and sometimes without thinking. Muscle memory takes over the second my hand grasps the hook and I'm flying. It never once occurred to me that there was a rich girl/poor girl divide or that my beloved granny squares would become an object of derision.
Pop Culture Observation: Want to label a living room as belonging to a low-rent, working class couple? Drape a granny afghan over the back of the then cut out early because your work is done.
With apologies to no one, I LOVE GRANNY AFGHANS. I loved them when I was a kid. I loved them as a young woman. I love them now in my fifties. They remind me of patchwork quilts, a beautiful way to use up leftover bits and pieces and turn them into something pleasing to the eye and to the soul. My mother always had a bag of granny squares tucked away. No scrap of yarn longer than a few inches escaped her crochet hook. The rules were simple: as long as you could coax a stitch or two from the scrap, it went into a square which went into a strip which went into an afghan.
Which became a wonderland for an introspective only child who liked to lie on the living room floor on a snowy afternoon watching The Early Show (anyone remember the theme song, The Syncopated Clock?) and dreaming up her own stories. I can still see some of those wonderful squares in my memory--what delight to follow the short run of red/white/blue which led into a sparkly gold which moved swiftly to sea green then navy blue then a long stretch of something variegated and autumnal. My mother (also a great believer in the chaos theory of artistic expression) had just one rule she followed with her grannies: they were always edged in a bright yellow, which just happened to be her daughter's favorite color. When she made them as gifts, someone might have black borders or cherry red but at home, yellow reigned supreme.
I still have some of those afghans. The one in the photo is around 50 years old. The photo, however, is only five minutes old.
I resigned myself years ago to the fact that kids wouldn't be in my future. That wasn't what fate had in store for me. I'm usually okay with that but it's times like this, when I lay my hand on one of my mother's afghans, that I wish I had a daughter to pass this love, this craft, on to.
Maybe it's time to reclaim the granny square and give it the respect it's due!