When I was about eleven years old, I went to stay with my Grandma in Florida for a week. I knew, at this point, that Grandma had a nightly tradition of watching TV while enjoying a screwdriver and a little bowl of salty snacks. She had an affinity for Cheez-Its (who doesn’t?) but on this trip, I remember she introduced me to the wonder of pretzel sticks dipped into jars of Cheez Whiz.
And as she snacked and listened to Wheel of Fortune, followed by Jeopardy, my Grandma would crochet. Mostly I remember her working on hats for premie babies; once she finished a batch of them, she would take them to the hospital to donate to the maternity ward, where the babies would get little hats, either in pink or blue, to wear during their stay.
On this visit, Grandma tried to teach me to crochet. She held my awkward, stiff hand in her own, and guided me to hold the hook, to yarn over, to make the chains loose enough to pull the yarn through. When I seemed to have a hang of it, she left me to it and worked on her hats while I made a chain. I chained and chained and chained. I held it up proudly to show her, and though she seemed pleased, she pointed out that a chain itself didn’t do much good. I needed to learn the step beyond the chain.
I had little interest in the step beyond the chain. Either that, or I found it difficult. I had found something I liked and could do. I could chain all the live long day. And so that’s what I did. I chained as long as I pleased, and that was the end of my crochet days.
On one of Amanda’s recent times away for training, I found myself needing to fill the time. I turned to Pinterest. I turned to sewing. But at the end of the night, I still wanted something a bit more chill than bouncing from ironing board to kitchen table to sewing machine and back again. I wanted something like my Grandma’s routine: a nice drink, a little snack, some TV, and crocheting.
So in the past month, I made my first crochet project: a double-crocheted infinity scarf. I made three of them (one for me, one for Amanda, and one as a gift for a friend), and with each scarf I made, I got a bit more practiced, a bit more relaxed.
My Grandma passed away a few years ago, and I do regret that I didn’t come back to crocheting while she was still with us. She could have shown me a thing or two, now that I’m old enough to learn it, and I think she might have been pleased to see the scarves I’ve made. I would have been pleased to make one for her.
I find myself wishing, a lot of the time, that I could always stumble upon lessons when I’m ready for them. I feel I’m constantly stumbling onto truths and lessons before I’m ready for them, like that Bobby Darin song “Splish Splash.” I get out of the tub, and I find a party is already going on in my living room.
But really, getting down on myself about being too young, and not ready, to learn the things life wants to teach me – that’s not useful or helpful either. We learn things when we are ready. We come to them in our own time. We go to the step beyond the chain when our hands are ready to hold the hook, when they need more stitches to fill time with.