I’ve been given a very interesting gift this week: the flu. Seriously. As I sit here (much like the above pictured shipwreck) waiting for that ‘out of body experience’ feeling to leave my head, and simultaneously giving thanks to both the maker of my recliner couch, and computer laptop (thanks Steve Jobs…), I felt inspired to do some reflecting on what the art of crochet has taught me over several decades. If this doesn’t make a lot of sense, or just sounds like fuzzy writing, I’m blaming it on the Sudafed. So here it goes:
Life can be mundane and repetitive….
When you think about it, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING we do in life is done over and over again until we either learn it or abandon the attempt. Once learned, we do things over and over again, and often times without thinking once something called muscle memory kicks in. Without this wonderful ability we would never be able to walk and chew gum, or learn complex actions like driving a car.
There is nothing new under the sun…
Solomon wasn’t kidding when he wrote this in the book of Ecclesiastes, and it especially applies to crocheting. I like to joke sometimes and say that my best ideas are borrowed or stolen. That is because there really isn’t anything new under the sun - literally. There are only so many ways to make a shirt, skirt, or a pair of pants. Sure, you can use different colors (which haven’t changed over time, although the design world would like you to think otherwise), different fabrics (using materials that have been here before Noah), but it all comes down to something to meet a need as old the hills.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…
Being able to see the beauty in something or someone is a gift that should never be underestimated. It is important to take the time to behold the beauty right in front of us, beauty which is not always obvious. Simplicity can be the setting of some of the most beautiful things in life, often times coming in an uncluttered, uncomplicated form like a solo melody floating over a breeze, unencumbered by sophistication. When this happens, embrace it and don’t mess it up by changing or adding to it.
Don’t listen to what everyone else says, follow your instincts and not other’s opinions, no matter how important they seem…
You only get one pass through this life, so why not live it to the full the way you are supposed to, walking in YOUR God-given gifts instead of someone else’s? I know it sounds trite to say “follow your heart”, but within reason, this is pretty good advice. Some of the things I love and have been drawn to haven’t exactly been the most popular things on this earth, or the center of popular culture. I gave up trying to be cool when I was about six (or was I seven?). Fitting in isn’t a game I play well, nor is it necessary to experience all the joy God has for us in this world.
On a practical level, I remember a conversation with a very strongly extroverted, confident person declare categorically that, “Ponchos are DEFINITELY out”, and other fashion-like advice at a crochet conference. I’m so glad that I had the confidence (or was it stubbornness?) to disagree with her - even though only in my heart at that moment - and pursue designing more ponchos. Even so-called experts who seem to hold real power to make these kind of decisions in the world are not omniscient and omnipotent, to which I say a hearty, "THANK YOU GOD!!!"
Sometimes you have to repeat things many times before you get it…
From the womb we master drinking, eating, walking, speaking, etc, and never on the first try. It takes lots and lots of repetitions before we get many things right. Trust me, I’ve potty-trained 5 children, and 3 of them were boys! Life and crochet are no different. The more repetitions, the more likely the next try will be right. The experts tell us that once we spend more than 10,000 hours doing something, we become pretty good at it! Well then, what are we waiting for???
We learn best from our mistakes…
When I think of life’s mistakes, why I am transported back to my Biology class in Junior High School? I think it is because failure stings, and my biology teacher had a cruel way of pouring salt into the wound with her tests. One interesting thing about missing these pesky questions back then, is that those answers that I got wrong seemed to be the ones I remember best - even better than the things I got right by only guessing at them. Even if it takes us longer to learn something than others around us, once we learn it, even through mistakes, that wisdom is ours for keeps!
One of my very best crochet students ever is a little girl who has what some would call a learning disability and had to be taught the same crochet stitches again and again. Because of this, she possesses something that many at her young age don’t have: humility and patience. She is now an excellent crocheter and has the depth of character that those quicker to learn won’t have for decades.
Good things come to those who wait, and wait, and wait…
Even in a world with lightening-fast internet speeds, and all things available in a fast-food-like manner, we must still learn to embrace the lost art of waiting. Not everything is instant in this life, nor should it be. I’m so thankful that the Lord above has put me in a holding pattern at times when I’ve demanded my way on important life issues. Character takes time to develop. Sometimes we just aren’t mature enough to receive or appreciate what we are demanding out of life.
I’ve learned that publishing designs takes time: months, and in a some cases years. First there is the patience to develop the pattern, then waiting for a publication home - if one can be found. By the time some designs are published, I have almost forgotten about them. Perhaps when working on a big crochet project it could be months between the first and last rows. Still, by being persistent, that day does come when a design or project is complete, and the joy of satisfaction can be embraced. Waiting can be good, and certainly has the ability to make us more patient and wiser.
It is a blessing to enjoy your work!
This may sound paradoxical, but yes, work is a blessing. Even Adam had work to do in the Garden of Eden - and this was before the onset of sin in the world! Work gives us a purpose - whether the work brings a paycheck or not. Unfortunately the value of our work can be cruelly and wrongfully judged solely by its monetary value this culture places on it, and I admit that this too often confuses the issue. Many of the most important jobs on the planet aren’t paid positions, (such as those of mothers, housewives, grandmothers, etc.), yet society would have collapsed and ceased to exist long before now without their faithful work.
To be able to wake up in the morning and work at what we truly enjoy is a very, very amazing gift, one that I truly wish for each one of you reading this. To find that magic bullet, gifting, ability, or whatever you may call it - it is that thing that makes the rest of life tolerable. When I was in Junior High and High School, it was called “band class”. That was my spoon full of sugar that made the other classes survivable. Music and crochet have been that for me for many years now. I know it takes many other forms for others, sometimes becoming real-life, paying jobs, sometimes not. Still, embrace it when and where you can. You just never know where it will take you either in this life of the next!