How I Started Crocheting: Anna's Story

This is the story of how I got into crochet. I warn you though, it has nothing to do with crochet, and everything to do with omens.

Let me explain.

The story begins back in May 2010 in my last year and final month of university. It was the last two weeks of final exams and my brain was on fire. I could not make decisions about ANYTHING, whether it was what I was going to eat, what I was going to wear, or where I was going to go. In hindsight, it sounds a bit like a typical Monday morning when getting ready for work. But in actuality, it was terrifying. I had spent four years studying social sciences and law. It felt like the decisions should be obvious. Law school, where else? But I was completely lost. I spent four years learning critical thinking, advocacy, theory, human rights issues - but it turns out all that has nothing to do with law.  So I was at a crossroads – follow the herd or be a black sheep?

“Professor, I’m going to need a mental health break for the next week. I’ll be spending it making a blue scarf.”

So I went to all my professors, and asked for a week break. I had earned enough karma points with them all, that they actually let me take a break in the middle of exams. This is a true story. 

Here is the weird part. Until that week of knitting a scarf, I had never touched knitting in my life. No one in my family knits. None of my friends knit. I still don’t know how I came about the idea of knitting a blue scarf.  But it doesn’t matter. I spent the week knitting. The whole week. It took me a WEEK to make a cowl.  The result was an abomination – it was too short, too wide, and really scratchy.  But it was the most peaceful week of my life at that moment.

The truth is, that I still did not have the answer to my question – follow the herd or be a black sheep? But something in me changed that week. I learned to block out the noise. Not all of it, but a lot. I guess you could say I decided I would be the black sheep to lead the herd.

Fast forward four years later. I am working at a government institution, as a researcher. My contract is about to come to an end, and I have to make a decision of what I will do next; stay or go elsewhere. Suddenly it was May 2010 all over again, only this time the stakes were higher. My decisions wouldn’t just affect my life, but my partner’s as well. Once again I was faced with the same question – do I follow the herd or do I want to be a black sheep? It felt like the movie Groundhog Day. Once again I went to my boss and said, “I need a mental health break. I’m going to spend time making a blanket.” And she understood.

You see after the blue scarf was complete, I did not become a knitter. Completing the scarf wasn’t about taking up a hobby, it was about clearing my mind. It was about putting all my anxieties into something productive. I wasn’t introspective enough back then to understand it.

But this time, it was different.

Starting the blanket was more than just about clearing my mind or making a decisions about my next job. It was about regaining control of my life and teaching my brain a new habit. The habit of taking one thing at a time. The habit of getting things done.. Every stitch, row, and project that I had completed felt like I was conquering Mount Olympus. To those around me it was just a blanket, and a nice new hobby I had taken on. But to me it was everything.

So, I finished the blanket and made a decision about my life. It took three months to make that decision. But this time I was sure. I’m going to be a black sheep and own it. Then I signed up for Ravelry, found my next project (an heirloom crochet blanket) and decided I liked crochet a lot more than knitting. That’s the story of how I got into crochet. It’s really anti-climatic, I know!

Here is the thing. To me, the journey that one takes to arrive at knitting/crochet is what I find most interesting. The experiences of each knitter or crocheter come in varying degrees, some of you might relate to mine, while others to Joan’s or Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence. But the lesson is this:

“Everything you need to learn you (will) learn through your journey.” -The Alchemist.

If I had to explain the power of knitting/crochet to someone, I would refer them to read the book The Alchemist. It was through the journey to taking up knitting that I learned the most important life lesson: learn how to recognize omens.   

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