Recovering crocheter shares her yarns

I had a lunch meeting in Somerset Center last week. Wandering through the nearby Elaine’s dime store, I noticed that despite being a fraction the size of Hensley’s, it had a complete crafts section. 

A recovering crocheter, I felt an urge to visit the yarn aisle. While I didn’t buy any yarn, I did glance its way longingly.

Not to worry, I later recounted the entire incident to my sponsor. I’ve come too far to slip off the wagon over just any yarn. If I’m going to go out and tie one on, so to speak, it will be with Irish worsted lambswool. The really good stuff.

I came by my crochet addiction honestly. It runs in our family, grandmothers on both sides, plus my aunt Bonnie and a couple of cousins. My aunt Mirth tried to turn me on to chicken scratch embroidery, but I had a thing about needles. Plus, I was already firmly hooked on size E hooks, the kind needed to produce most useless yarn items.

What’s wrong with crocheting, you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Better yet, I’ll show you with an example from Elaine’s. Mounted on the yarn case was the usual pad of free Red Heart yarn pattern directions. However, this particular pattern was for a cell phone cover. Yikes!

I did a double-take, picturing rocking-chaired grandmothers across America in the weeks before Christmas: A wartime production effort using neon acrylic strands, feeling renewed purpose through cranking out wearable grandkid kitsch.

For the record, no self-respecting teen would be caught dead with a crocheted cell phone case, although receipt of one just might hasten the process.

Can’t you just picture a group of 16-year old girls cruising Lakeview Square Mall, crocheted cell phone cases fastened to their low-rise jeans, just below the thong line?

Not gonna happen. But perhaps I should contact the Red Heart pattern people with the thong idea. Don’t laugh, that’ll be next.

Also amusing are the sexy women the yarn people use to showcase the dorkiest of crochet projects. Does anyone really believe supermodel Heidi Klum appears in public wearing a blocky poncho made from yarn remnant granny squares?

I only hope that when I die, my survivors are conscientious enough to remove the “Crocheting With Vanna White” book of afghan patterns from my estate sale before someone important sees it and my reputation suffers posthumously.

So what is the value of crocheting?

It gave me an excuse to sit and watch TV, my butt widening faster than my rows of stitches. And I guess it kept my Grandma Smith from worse mischief. Like what? Carousing? Gambling? Drinking? In retrospect, witnessing her drunken behavior at a wedding reception would have been slightly less embarrassing than being expected to wear a hand-crocheted vest to it.

Fine needlework is fine. Doilies are divine. Other crocheted items cause me to whine:

AFGHANS – Broomstick lace afghans, second only to color-challenged ripple afghans in their hideosity, are why Congress repealed the mandatory retirement age in 1986: To keep grandmothers on the payroll and thus off the yarn.

POTHOLDERS – I have finger scars from being burned through the loopy oven mitts and potholders mom made us use whenever Grandma came for dinner. Ouch!

SCARVES – Has anyone researched how many hanging suicides occur via hand-crocheted scarves? The results should speak volumes, especially if a matching cell phone case were involved.

HATS – My mother should have saved the middleman and beaten me up herself instead of sending me off to school in a crocheted hat with bouncing yarn pompon. But they did make me a faster runner.

OTHER GARMENTS – One time I crocheted a sweater so contorted I pray I never meet the person it would fit. Must have been an act of subliminal design. I’d been watching the PBS documentary The Elephant Man while I worked on it.

Before placing myself on yarn probation, I spent countless hours making unwanted stuff. The upside was if I didn’t want to be invited somewhere again, I could bring the hostess a hand-crocheted wine bottle cozy instead of a bottle of wine. My own yarn loophole.

There’s not just stigma, but strategy in those stitches.


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