Today I thought I would introduce you to a very special person. She has been an amazing teacher during that incredible, and sometimes terrifying, transition from teenager to adult, helping me to make sense of the deepest questions that came up during that period.
But more than that, she introduced me to the wonders of crochet, inspiring me with the gifts she created until I just had to learn the craft myself. And today she is my crochet guru, the person I turn to time and again when I need a pattern, or someone to explain an aspect I just don't understand.
Jen has her own blog, called Just for Fun, and she often posts photos of the items she has made. But I wanted to utilise her skills and experience to create a post about the joys of crochet. I know a few of my regular readers enjoy this craft, so I hope you will enjoy the conversation I had with Jen, and perhaps leave a comment with your own answers to some of the questions asked.
How long have you been crocheting?
I started crocheting in the early 1990’s, so almost 20 years. At the time, I was looking for a way to keep my hands busy during all the kids’ sporting activities. I learned that crochet was a great way for me to channel all my anxious energy and keep from yelling at the coach.
Who taught you to crochet?
I am self taught. I bought a pattern book with a section on basic stitches and the rest is history!
When did you discover you were a true fan of this craft?
Almost immediately. I loved that I could pick it up or set it down at my own convenience, take it along with me, sit on the chair or the sofa. I also found that I could crochet while my husband was watching a game or show I wasn’t really interested in… which meant I could patiently sit with him without getting antsy or bored. It was ultimately flexible! I tried other crafts, but they required a focused period of time or special space.
Once I had enough practice to stitch evenly, I loved seeing the various patterns and the fabric I created. I’m also not ashamed to say I loved the compliments I received on my work. It inspired me to keep at it and try new stitches and patterns in creative ways.
Have you taught anybody else to crochet?
I’ve taught several friends and family members over the years, but most of them just ask me to make them something if they have an idea. It takes a certain amount of patience and practice to get even stitches and it always seemed easier just to ask me.
What are your favourite types of patterns?
I love the smaller projects the best because they offer almost instant gratification. Smaller items like bags or hats can be useful as well as colorful and I don’t get bored repeating the same stitch for weeks on end.
Do you have an absolute favourite, if so, why?
I have a few “go-to” patterns for certain occasions, usually gifts. For example, I have a lap blanket pattern that looks like a stack of crayons – great for kids. Otherwise, I tend to make it up as I go along.
Who do you most like crocheting for?
Kids! They like colorful things like the crayon blanket I mentioned (no neutral sweaters for them!) and they also can’t figure out how you made it so it’s like magic. I recently made a rainbow cream pie (complete with a dollop of whipped cream) beret for a friend’s daughter, and she wears it to school every day.
A gift from family
Has anybody ever crocheted a gift for you?
Now that I think about it, none specifically crocheted for me. When my first child was born, we received some crocheted items that I was too afraid to use at the time because I didn’t want to ruin them. My son-in-law’s 92 year old grandmother gave me a crochet and embroidery piece she made in her youth because it matched my kitchen. It’s gorgeous!
What advice would you give to a would-be crocheter?
Start small and take the time to get your stitching rhythm down. Consistent yarn tension is what makes or breaks your fabric and that only comes with practice. A good way to start is making washcloths, scarves, or items that don’t have to be perfect… save the sweater for later.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on my scrap pile! In the fall I had several specific projects I was working on, and they left me with half a skein of yarn here, an extra there. It can become a storage issue, so I like to use them up when I can. I’ve been using my ‘leftovers’ to crochet hats, scarves and small blankets for charity.
I’m already thinking about spring colored cotton items though once I have worked my way through the scraps.
What is the biggest project you have ever tackled? Why did you choose this, how long did it take, and how did you feel upon completion?
Ah, I remember it well. I crocheted a blanket the size of a full bed, using a double strand and double stitch technique that interweaves to a soft but chunky fabric. During a visit, a friend of ours commented on a sofa blanket I made for my husband. When our friend moved to a new house, I made a full sized blanket for him as a gift. I don’t even want to think about the number of hours it took. I was so sick of it about 2/3 through I wanted to scream. It was bulky and difficult to work with. However, he was so surprised by the gift and so appreciative that it was all worthwhile in the end! He still uses that blanket each night almost 15 years later.
Then there is the blanket I made as a special request. It was not the largest size, but the most work because it included several stitching techniques, crocheted flowers and embroidery. It took about 100 hours over several months for me to complete. Whew! Won’t be doing that one again.
What, for you, is the very best thing about crochet?
No pressure! No deadlines, no curing, drying or mess on the table, few supplies that never expire and are easy to store. In addition, those fingers can fly without really having to pay too much attention to them, so I find it relaxing.
Of course, it’s also a lot of fun to see the expression on someone’s face when you give them a handmade rainbow cream pie beret!
I can attest to the power of receiving a gift from Jen, as the hearts behind us in the wedding photo came from her, as did the ones on the front of the table. You can see them in greater detail by watching the video thank you I made here.
So, all that is left to say is: Thank You, Jen, for being my inspiration and crochet "guru".
If you have any questions for Jen, please do leave them in the comments below.