Monday, January 23, 2017

Life lessons crocheting is teaching me

Having been laid low by the flu and told by my doctor not to place any more stress on my body, I’ve mostly hung out in front of the TV, busy with a few crochet projects including an infinity scarf, market bag and an outfit for my son’s pet cat, Nom Nom. In a very short span of time, flat space in my apartment has been invaded by  balls of yarn. Crocheting is my latest interest, and when not hooking up yarn, I’ve been trawling the internet, looking for new patterns to attempt.

Reading what other crocheters are saying on social media, I think we all agree that there are many benefits offered by crochet or knitting. It’s a way to unwind and chill, for sure, but I’ve discovered that there are many more lessons that this pastime has taught me.

Yarn matters. I guess that was my first lesson, when I went to my neighborhood craft store to pick out some yarn.Your project will only be as good as the yarn you have. And that’s what it’s like in life as well. You work with whatever raw materials you have to begin with, whether it’s an ability to sing and dance or a good head for numbers.

Then it’s really what you do with your raw materials. You learn as you go along in crochet, that from  just a few basic stitches, you can make almost anything. It’s all up to your own creativity. I’m still very much a beginner and can only follow tutorials offered on Youtube, so I’m totally in awe of seasoned crocheters who not only read written instructions and graphs but can just take a picture and translate it into a crocheted masterpiece. I’ve discovered that crocheters can even make cute little Amigurumi, small stuffed yarn animals.

Crocheting is a very forgiving art. If you’ve missed a stitch, don’t like the color combination or even the way the pattern is working out, you can just rip out the stitches (that’s why it’s called frogging!) and start over again. In life, nothing is really set in stone. If you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way, it’s never too late to turn back and start over again. What’s important is that you try.

Math is important. A lot of kids struggling with algebra or geometry often wonder why they have to study math when they’re obviously not going to become mathematicians or accountants. In crochet, you have to count. Stitches, rows, you have to constantly count and keep track of what you’re doing. You also have to take measurements and adjust them accordingly. Lots of numbers show up in life as well, whether you’re trying to balance your personal or household budget, calculate distances or figure out tips on a restaurant bill. I’m grateful that I had math drilled into me from a young age, so that now I can do mental math in my head quite easily.

Good friends are supportive. I’ve just joined a crochet group on Facebook and come to the conclusion that crocheters (and knitters I’m sure) are really nice people. They are very generous about sharing information, whether it’s a sale on yarn, a new pattern or what hooks are the best. They offer not only advice but also encouragement on projects that members post. Genuine friends in life are rare gems. They only have your best interests at heart and are unstinting in their support and love. If you have friends like that, cherish them.

Working with your hands is beneficial. Crochet sites will list a whole host of benefits - it calms you down, relieves depression and anxiety, and builds self esteem. I’ve also read about a study in Japan that showed people who work with their hands, including craftsmen, artists and musicians, live longer, healthier lives. It has something to do with brain-finger coordination. I don’t know about that, but keeping my hands busy means I don’t snack, something I used to do in front of the TV. I’m sure that reduced snacking is better for my health!

Everything in moderation is best. I thought I was the only one accumulating a whole stash of yarn, but most other crocheters are avid collectors, with stashes that dwarf my limited collection. I thought I was bad, staying up sometimes till 2 am and telling myself, “Just another row”. But I’ve read of other crochet addicts who fall asleep over their work in progress and wake up the next morning with the crochet hook still in their hands. My battle with the flu has exhausted me, so rather than crocheting into the night, I’m forced to go to bed. And that has made me appreciate my crochet projects even more.

I don’t know how long my interest in crocheting will last, but while I’m still at it, I’m having a ball - get it, ball of yarn!? Oh never mind.

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