Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Seriously, though

Why I started to crochet:
When I was small, my grandmother tried to teach me how to crochet and knit and sew and tat and cook and garden and probably other things I'm forgetting. From her I inherited my love of needlework, a warm home, big trees, healthy tomato plants, and dinners that take a long time to make and are shared around a table. She was the stereotypical domestic goddess. Unfortunately for me, my small hands and short attention span meant that none of her diligent craft lessons really stuck, I got tired of fumbling with the various shapes and sizes of needles and would inevitably run off to play in the backyard. But even then I appreciated it, and her.
A few years ago, we finally had to move my grandma to a nursing home. My grandpa had passed away a few years before, and my grandma had had a severe stroke from which she never fully recovered. She was no longer able to take care of herself, and no longer able to use her hands to create and to share. It was very strange, having Christmases without handmade gifts from her. Her health was deteriorating rapidly, she wasn't able to speak any more, and the nursing home upset me too much for me to visit very often. But she was my grandma, and I wanted her to know that I still cared, that she really had made a difference in my life, that she had passed something on to me and I treasured it.
So I re-taught myself to crochet. I wasn't very good, but holding the aluminum hooks in my hands took me back to our days on her couch, and I knew I was doing something good. I made her an afghan as a surprise, and presented it to her for her birthday. I wanted to show her, tangibly, that I had learned from her. She couldn't say much about it, but she looked happy. And proud.
I've gotten a lot better since then. I'm sad that I can't show her, but I have a feeling she's proud anyway. And it makes me proud, to know that I'm participating in something that goes back for generations. I'm not just making things out of yarn, I'm acting out a sacred ritual that my grandma and countless other amazing women (and men) have performed for centuries. And that's very important to me.

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