Hand, Heart, Hook and Yarn

Hello Farmgirls, I hope this find you all well and settling into 2016 with kindness to yourselves and celebration of your accomplishments!  I am proud to say that I have taken up an activity that I didn’t even know I wanted to learn.

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(Re)Learning how to knit has been one of my goals for the last few years.  I had previously learned how to knit in high school and dabbled a bit throughout college, but I hadn’t picked up needles in a very long time.  So many people I know in Alaska knit–both young and old.  They make hats, scarves, mittens, toys, booties, and all sorts of unique, made with love, beautiful things.  Plus, a lot of them have knitting groups that they participate in weekly and even go on fun retreats together!  It’s such a metaphorical activity–tying together strings to make something beautiful while also knitting together a community of like-minded, creative women.

"Knitting, knitting, knitting"

“Knitting, knitting, knitting”

Since my mother is in town and she is a prolific knitter, we thought it would be the perfect time to hone in on my skills.  After I had recovered a bit from Opal’s birth and felt up to some outings, she and I went to the craft store and bought some knitting supplies: a set of common knitting needle sizes and A LOT of yarn!  My mom also suggested that I get some crochet hooks because she could teach me how to do that, as well.  The previous day she had shown me photos of “freeform” crochet projects, and I was very interested in the funky, colorful, directionless projects.

Washed up Jellies

Washed up Jellies

I must divulge something slightly embarrassing: my mom has both knitted and crocheted me many beautiful things, but I had no idea that the crocheted things weren’t knitted until I learned how to crochet!  I thought all of the items were knit and that my mom just knew a ton of different techniques.  I even thought that crocheted afghans were knitted…I really only associated crochet with little doilies…Little did I know that crocheting is AWESOME.

So, that first night my mom helped refresh my knitting skills.  It was fun, I made a test strip of knitting, perling and combinations of the two to make ribs of varying width. I planned on making a scarf for Evan.  Then, it got pretty late (time flies when you’re using your mind and hands!), so we went to bed.  The next day my mom taught me how to crochet.

In the ocean?

In the ocean?

We started with learning a basic chain and then learning single and double crochets on that chain, then she had me make a granny square…I tried this square several times and never got much of a square.  One of my attempts resulted in something that actually looks remarkably like a llama. I gifted it to my mother and we joked about how she could show it off as her daughter’s first crochet project. We hoped that onlookers would think I had done it as a ten year old, not a thirty something! Haha.

Third jelly in progress...

Third jelly in progress…

While that first day was a bit disheartening, I loved the act of crocheting.  Knitting is meditative and fun in its own way, but there is something about crochet that calls to me.  I bought a book about amigurumi.  Have you heard of that? Amigurumi supposedly means “Cute small things” in Japanese…but don’t quote me on that. They are essentially little crocheted toys!  They are very cute and pretty simple to make once you get the hang of it.  So far I’ve made several jelly fish.  I think to be true amigurumi I should put some cute faces on them, but I like them without.  I haven’t been following any one set of directions to make the jelly fish.  Instead, I found an octopus and used it’s middle part as the top of the jelly, the fringe off of an anthropomorphic cupcake and tentacles from an actual jelly fish pattern. They are all turning out differently because I can’t keep count, but it’s a learning process and I really love them!  It is Ava’s birthday today, and we are giving out these Jelly fish as one of the party favors.  I hope the other kids love them as much as Ava loves hers.

My first two crocheted projects!

My first two crocheted projects!

The New York Times just had an article about the benefits of knitting. It seems I’m a bit late to the party–thirty percent of women aged 25-35 knit or crochet!  Who knew?  Like I’ve said before, I’m late to most parties I attend.  However, I almost always have a good time and tend to stick around awhile.  In that light, I hope this new hobby sticks around for awhile, too.  Among its many supposed benefits are greater mental capacity in old age, stress reduction and sustained manual dexterity and strength.  Plus, you and your loved ones get a lot of handmade, unique creations.

I can’t wait to continue along my crocheting and knitting journey.  I’m sure I’ll amass a huge amount of yarn, it sounds like it is inevitable when one becomes a knitter or crocheter. I’ve already coveted more yarns than I can imagine doing anything with and it’s only been a few weeks…We’ll see what the future holds!

Are you a knitter, crocheter or other handiwork-er?  What is your favorite mode of creation?  Share your talents with us.  You might even inspire your fellow Farmgirls to take up a new hobby.

Until next time, keep on being crafty!

Sending peace and love from Alaska,

Alex, the Rural Farmgirl

p.s. Being a mom of two girls is the best!

Sisters!  Ava loves to serenade Opal with her original music.

Sisters! Ava loves to serenade Opal with her original music.

p.p.s. We had a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Alaska last week at 1:30 a.m. It was TERRIFYING to wake up to the waves of a quake. It was terrifying because of being a mom of two amazing little ones.  Luckily no one was hurt and we didn’t sustain any property damage. It’s so hard when scary things happen that our out of our control…Maybe I will crochet them giant hamster balls to keep them protected at all times :).

My heart melts...

My heart melts…

Leave a comment 20 Comments

  1. Dori Troutman says:

    Good morning Alex!

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY AVA!!! :-)

    Oh my goodness, those little girls are so beautiful. Nothing like a precious new baby and sweet little “big” sister to make life complete.

    I learned the basics of knitting a number of years ago and just never could seem to enjoy it. The counting really got to me! :-) Last year I determined to learn to crochet. I basically kind of taught myself (YouTube is the best!) and designed my own dishcloth. (I wrote a post about it here: http://www.farmgirlbloggers.com/8165). So now, I use only my 100% cotton crocheted dish cloths because I love them so much. I have made hundreds I’m pretty, sure as they make the best quick gifts… a few of them tied up with string is a big hit! :-) My pattern is attached in that blog post above, you’ll have to try them. But beware. They are super, super addicting! So fun and simple to make.

    I’m so glad your Mom is still there. I was hoping! I got to stay with my daughter for six weeks when her first was born. That is some of the best memories of my life. Luckily when she had her second we had moved here to the South, so I’ve seen that little munchkin almost every day of her life (and she’s four)!

    Bug hugs… so glad you’re doing well!

    – Dori –

    P.S. I love the jelly fish. I must buy that book!

  2. What a fun project to crochet the jellyfish! I learned to crochet from my grandmother. She taught me the basics, then I jumped into many self-taught projects through the years. I look back and have to laugh at all of the odd crochet gifts I gave my mother when I first began. I particularly remember a “vest” that crossed over and really looked more like guerrilla warfare ammo belts. Mercy. She was always gracious with me. :^)

    Your daughters are precious!

    We’ve had more than our usual share of earthquakes in Oklahoma in the last year. I think that with tornadoes, we should be exempt from earthquakes.

  3. Denise Ross says:

    Your girls are gorgeous, Alex. I love your cute sea creatures you’ve crocheted. I’m sure all the kiddos that got them as party favours would’ve loved them. I haven’t crocheted in years but your inspiring me to give a go again. I’m also a very slow knitter, as In I take years to finish anything and not very good at it either, but I do try from time to time. I so love that knitting circles are coming back again – slowing down, connecting and creating all at the same time – definitely a plus in fast paced world. Scary about the earthquake! So glad you guys are all okay. Take care and enjoy the savouring in life :)
    Denise
    Australia

  4. Heidi says:

    I have, after 30 years of saying “I’m not creative”, decided that this is just simply untrue! So I am forming an Art and Soul community for folks to get together and create together. Through your blog, I give thanks to you for another affirmation, Alex, that this is such a worthy thing to be doing. I love your jelly fish, and hope the kid’lins all loved them!

    Dori, I will be taking your pattern to the first meeting, and hope there is someone there that I can call upon to help if I need it.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I love the jellyfish. I learned to knit and crochet the basics when I was 10 or so, but never really did much with it until lately. I prefer crochet; it seems to require less concentration, at least for me. I enjoy knitting too, but always end up holding my left hand knitting needle awkwardly. Real knitters would probably cringe if they saw me. I did knit a very pretty (if I do say so myself) Georgia afghan after finding the pattern in a book I was reading. It took me a few tries to get it started, but once I did, it was a very fun project.

    Your daughters are precious.

  6. Marilyn Collins says:

    I did learn to knit in Junior High School. I do intend to learn crochet.. Enjoyed the article. Your girls are beautiful.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY AVA
    Marilyn

  7. Marilyn Collins says:

    I did learn to knit in Junior High School. I do intend to learn crochet.. Enjoyed the article. Your girls are beautiful.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY AVA
    Marilyn

  8. Alex Darc says:

    Ahh, now you have to join Ravelry.com for all the fun patterns and community. I taught myself to knit right after my daughter was born, and have loved being able to make my kid’s toys and clothes. My daughter loved it so much she learned to spin. Now if we could only get our own sheep…

  9. Krista says:

    Oh my heavens! Your baby’s cheeks are adorable. How precious.
    I am actually learning how to crochet right now. I am working on getting my beginner level crochet merit badge. There is something so relaxing and enjoyable about crocheting. I haven’t completed a project yet but I am hoping to here shortly. I want to make some different things as well. Those jelly fish of yours are so cute and would be a cute toy for my little boy. Thank you for inspiring me to branch out and crochet something other than scarfs, washcloths and blankets! Enjoy your new hobby.

  10. Diane says:

    You are going to Love, Love, Love your new crafts of either Crocheting or Knitting. I too love crocheting more and have just basic skills for knitting. This year I have taken on a Prayer Shawl Ministry at my church in Fishkill, New York. I hope to have a lot of ladies in my church and community come to sit and create beautiful shawls that we can share with ours to bring them Hope, Strength, Happiness or just a HUG! Which I think of shawls to be if you make them big enough. Maybe you might consider this as a project sometime. Your daughters are beautiful and all the best of luck with the new addition. Now get back to that yarn and hook and start creating! It is truly a relaxing hobby. I will have to look up that pattern for the jellyfish – it came out great! See you are inspiring me!
    Enjoy your new hobby! Diane

  11. Deb Obermeier (DebO) says:

    I have a granddaughter that knits and crochets anything she puts her mind to without using patterns. In October 2010 on a visit to see her, she suggested we write a book. Pencil and paper and quiet spot, the concept of my now PUBLISHED book came to be. A SIMPLE STITCH, A COMMON THREAD is the story of small town living, a yarn shop owner with a knitting grout, her great-grandparents old homestead still in tact, and an uplifting chain of events that happen throughout the fall into the holidays. The blog subject and conversation made me think of all of you, as I wish I actually had a shop named A SIMPLE STITCH,

  12. Elizabeth Landin says:

    Your jellyfish look great! If you’re interested in more crocheting in your area, look up Ididachain Crochet Guild (I think we are on facebook). We meet in alternate months in Wasilla and Anchorage.

  13. Susabelle says:

    I have crocheted preactically all of my life. My most recent obsession is making enormous chunky rugs out of old sheets torn into strips. I even wrote a blog post about it with pictures and instructions! http://momilies.susabelle.com/?p=809

  14. April says:

    I’ve never taken to knitting, but I LOVE to crochet! I think I like having my hands more involved with the yarn; knitting feels more remote, transferring stitches from stick to stick. ;-p I don’t have the issues of even tension with crochet that I do knitting either. And what’s up with those knitting patterns that call for four or more needles going at one time?? LOL! I need simple. ;-p So glad you didn’t sustain injury or damage from that quake!

  15. Karen Pennebaker says:

    I “made” my grandmother teach me to knit when I was 9 because I had a part in a school play where I was supposed to sit in a rocking chair and knit…so she gave me a skein of horrid yellow yarn, a set of wood knitting needles and I knit and unraveled that skein of yarn all through play practice and the “real thing”. My teacher said “you didn’t have to know how to knit. You could have pretended.” My reply was “Oh, yes I did have to learn”…but I never made anything more exotic than hats and scarves…later, when my oldest son was a baby, I had a neighbor who made fabulous crocheted things. She taught me to crochet. And still, I’ve only made hats and scarves and rugs and little bags, other than the year I used fabric and made “Soft pottery” bowls…for some reason or other! (I love experimenting with “stuff”…) – My oldest granddaughter can crochet. I taught her when she was little. She now makes all sorts of things, including granny square blankets for her GOATS. (She is 25 and owns a herd of dairy goats). She has made a lot of fingerless gloves and scarf sets and sold them, too. Yarn is just FUN to play with. Lately, I’ve been using up all sorts of odd yarn weaving little bags (think cell phones!) on a frame loom I made from a set of canvas stretchers and a LOT of little brads!
    Keep on playing! And teach your girls how to play with yarn, too!!

  16. Karen Pennebaker says:

    Well, I typed in a whole paragraph, hit “post comment” and it told me I already sent a comment and deleted me. My grandmother taught me to knit and a neighbor taught me to crochet. Usually, when I asked grandmother how to do things, she said “you can read, look it up” but I was only 9 when I told her I needed to know how to knit. I never have really liked knitting but crocheting is fun. So is weaving. Yarn is addictive!! Teach your girls how to knit and crochet, too. They’ll have fun, as well.

  17. Sandy Zboinski says:

    My grandmother tried to teach me how to crochet but I am very left handed and she is not. :) I decided to take lessons when I was diagnosed with RA as I thought it would be good therapy for my hands and heart. My first project was a prayer shawl for my sister-in-law who was going through chemo. I have been told that I knit left handed and backwards but it works for me and I love it. Yes yarn like fabric can be a bit addictive and I love the getting together to knit up with friends. I hope to learn crochet someday.

    Glad you are okay from the earthquake and blessings on your beautiful family.

    Sandy in Nevada

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