Oh dear. It is that time again. It is September, and Labor Day has just come and gone. It just occurred to me, that despite my resolutions and best intentions, I have not started one Nativity present yet. It looks like my annual knitting and crocheting marathon is about to begin.
As I am gearing myself mentally for the challenge and task of deciding on handmade gifts for friends and family, I started thinking about yarncrafting. About 5 years ago, for some strange reason, I had the urge to relearn crochet. I say relearn, because I actually had learned to crochet, at least a little, when I was about 9 years old. I did not do much, mostly blankets for my Breyer Horses. I do not think I learned more than single crochet, and I could never manage to crochet straight rows. Now that I have learned again, I realize that I did not put in the chain stitch at the end of each row, but I did not know that then.
As a child, I was always fascinated by handmade things. I still have handmade pictures of a cat and a dog that an aunt of mine made for me when I was a very little girl. I remember seeing them and just being in awe of her that she made them!
On the other side of my family, there is a long history and tradition of making things by hand. My grandmother’s house is filled with handmade pictures, tablecloths, and afghans that have been made by her sisters and her mother. She used to sew all of her children’s clothing before it got to be more expensive to make clothes than to buy them at the store. When I learned to crochet and then to knit, she was very proud of me. She was more proud of me for learning to knit and crochet than she was when I graduated summa cum laude. At the time, I was amused by this, but now, I think I understand. If I look back, I think that learning to crochet was the very beginning of the journey that I am on now.
One of the best rewards for learning to crochet, and then a year later, learning to knit, was that I started to hear new stories from my grandmother. I heard about how her mother would make all of the clothing for her, her two sisters and her two brother. I heard how her mother had to knit socks for her father, and when his socks started to get holes, she would unravel the foot part, reuse the cuff, and re-knit the foot part. I heard about how her mother bought a dress that fit her perfectly from the store, and how when it was worn out, her mother made a pattern out of it, and made all her future dresses to that pattern. My grandmother was the youngest of the girls in her family, and I heard about how her mother would take the material from the clothes from the older girls and remake them for her, so she did not feel like she was getting hand-me-downs. I heard about how carefully her mother would mend all of their clothing from the inside, so that no one could tell that the clothes had been mended. Contrast that to blue jeans that are purposely made with holes in them!
I even heard stories about my grandmother’s grandmother, who would make linen from plants. I guess that the plants were carefully dried on the porch, and then later spun into yarn. I am just amazed at how hard our foremothers used to work for the basic necessities of life. Someday, I do want to learn how to spin, but maybe not just yet.
Speaking of my grandmother, I just remembered her birthday is coming up soon. She has begun to expect handmade socks as presents from me, and is almost disappointed if I give her anything else. I really do need to get moving on things, don’t I? Lots to do! Lots to do! I really am not sure what happened this summer.
Then there is always the dilemma, do you make one thing at a time, or have several projects going at once? I am not sure which is faster, but I do know that when it gets late in the yarncrafting marathon season….late November and December, I often move from leisurely working on many different projects as I feel like it to hurriedly making one thing at a time, based on time it takes to ship things and the like.
Despite the time crunch, I do think I will finish the autumn lace gloves I am making myself before I begin the holiday rush! I have one glove finished, and I just need to finish the fingers on the second one. They should not take too much time to finish, so long as I work on them in earnest.
I guess I should stop writing and get back to my knitting!
Good luck and ganbatte kudasai* to any other yarncrafters starting their holiday projects!
*Ganbatte kudasai is a Japanese phrase. The literal translation is “please, do your best.” This phrase is used in the same context as the American phrase “good luck.”