Boredom? Escape from stress? Or simply the pleasure of a creative activity that doesn’t demand too much concentration?
Probably it was a combination of all three coinciding with a visit to a wool shop with my darling daughter whose fingers seem to have grown permanently attached to knitting needles: she wastes no second of her time, always some kind of work in progress, from complicated fair-isle and cable sweaters to self-striping socks. Just look at her blog for a few ideas. She’s been knitting since she was six and she’s good.
Anyway, she needed to stock up and I went along for company. Idly browsing among the (to me) somewhat arcane objects essential to modern knitters, I spotted some soft fluffy balls in pink, violet and grey. The colours of the sky after the sun has set.
What brought the dollar signs pinging up in my eyes was the price. “Is this cheap?” I whispered, and my daughter confirmed that for a 50/50 mixture of pure virgin wool and mohair, it was indeed. Now, I don’t knit. The story of my attempts to knit would send you to sleep. Suffice it to say that I can cast on using my thumb but have never mastered the smooth transition from “in-over-under-out” of the first plain stitch to the second and third.
However, when I gave up smoking in 1975 I needed something to keep my hands busy so I took up macramé and crochet, which require less motor coordination than knitting (at least in my case). I made shawls, waistcoats, scarves, hats, plant-pot covers and hangers, a giant wall-hanging (currently waiting in my basement for one of my descendants to claim it as a family heirloom), trying out and inventing all kinds of fancy patterns. Macramé went out of fashion and has not yet made a comeback, and I lost my crochet hooks in one of my many house removals, so I haven’t made anything for decades, but a few years ago my daughter bought me about a dozen hooks in assorted sizes as gentle encouragement. They stayed in a drawer.
Now, though, the soft feel and hues of these half-price balls of wool irresistibly seduced me and I bought one of each colour.
When I got home, I fished out my hooks and crocheted a shape that was supposed to be a triangle, but turned out to be more of a lozenge, and immediately realised it was too small to be anything useful. I needed more wool.Dear dutiful daughter managed to obtain a couple of extra balls, and I added a few more rows. It isn’t a scarf that bears close scrutiny. It doesn’t demonstrate any great talent or ability, thus not suitable to give anyone as a present, but it is soft and warm and the colours go with several sweaters, so I decided to wear it. Having a few feet of wool left over, I added a rosette that acts as a button.
It’s not the finished article that engages me, but the repetitive activity that I find soothing and addictive. Back at my mother’s house, I found a few little leftover balls of yarn and started playing with them, just for something to do as a change from killer sudokus and The Times Latin crossword puzzle.
Since these were leftovers from goodness knows what, there wasn’t enough to make anything proper, but I could practise and play with double, single and triple crochet, producing lacy patterns and finding that my fingers remembered what to do even though my brain had mislaid the instructions.
I now have three quarters of a beret, just needing a few more rows to finish it off if I can find a yarn of a suitable colour and texture, and a kind of drunken doyley that my mother deems fit to serve as a mat half hidden under a plant or vase.
Soon, I’ll be ready to buy some NEW yarn and start in on something serious.
Watch this space!