Friday, May 20, 2011

Crocheting is nothing like riding a bike.

Hello, long-neglected readers. You know that old adage, "It's just like riding a bike," that's supposed to mean you never forget how to do something? First of all, let me tell you that while you may never forget how to ride a bike, you will lose a lot of your bike riding skills if you, like me, go for nearly ten years without mounting a bicycle (haha - mounting I'm 12). When I was a kid, I biked all the time. My sister and I would ride our bikes for hours up and down the street in front of our parents' house. As we got older and our biking parameters were expanded, we would go on long trail rides or bike to friends' houses several miles away. I wasn't about to join the Tour de France or anything, but I was a proficient rider. I knew when to change gears, I could pedal up steep hills, and turn from a paved road onto gravel without wiping out. I loved to see how fast I could go down hills or on long straight stretches.

Fast forward to the present. I haven't been on a bike in nearly a decade. Last summer, I thought I would start biking for fitness with a friend of mine. I weebled and wobbled and huffed and puffed... sure I could keep the bike upright, but I was clearly out of practice. If I surpassed about 3 miles per hour, I felt like I was careening out of control. Forget sudden moves - I locked my elbows and was afraid to make any moves at all on the gravel. I could barely make it up a gradual incline and then rode my brakes the whole way back down ... I was a real embarrassment. Crista, if you're reading this, I'm sorry I put you through that whole charade and forced you to be seen with me (even if we were only seen by B's grandparents).

All of that to say, after ten years away from the banana seat (haha - banana seat I'm 12), you might not forget the basics of how to ride a bike, but you're not going to be any good at it either. Well, let me tell you this: Crocheting is nothing like riding a bike. Shocking, I know. You're reeling from this information. I'll give you a moment.


Okay then. For you skeptics, allow me to demonstrate the ways in which these two activities are different:

You know another way in which these two activities are nothing alike? You can totally forget how to crochet. ("Why didn't I add that to the table?" you ask. Well, because I already converted the Word document to a Paint image and then closed the Word document without saving it, and I don't want have time to go back and create another one with this information.) Last night I thought I would get started on my totally nerdtastic Ravenclaw scarf. In my mind's eye, it was going to look something like this:

I'd say this is drawn to scale, but that would be one wide scarf.
Actual scarf would be much longer in comparison to width. You get the idea.

There were a few problems I knew I was going to encounter with this project: First of all, I have never worked with multiple colors of yarn in one garment before. Second of all, I have only ever crocheted one thing (a tiny scarf for Scout when she was 15 months old), and that was nearly three years ago. Third, the person who taught me to crochet (Shout-out to Kristi! Holla!) still lives in VA, and we have since relocated to the North (cue sad banjo music). Still, I felt confident. I thought my only real issue was going to be learning how to graft the two colors together. Oh, self from yesterday at about 9:30pm, how misguided and overly optimistic you were.

I thought I'd start by looking up some "patterns" on Google. (Did you know that a crochet pattern is all text with no pictures and is written entirely in Granny jargon? I didn't. I'm still trying to figure out what a yo is, besides a slang term that I overuse in daily conversation in a desperate attempt to appear younger and hipper than I really am.) I finally found a site that included pictures of the steps necessary to incorporate the new yarn into the project, so I bookmarked it and sat down to begin. I held my crochet hook in my right hand. I passed it to my left. I picked up my blue yarn. I put it down. (This is riveting stuff, self. You're going to be the next Dickens, I can feel it). Suddenly, I realized that I had no idea how to start. I thought I knew what to do once I got started, but I just could not remember how to start that first stitch (stitch? chain? yo?) . Then I had an epiphany. I would find a YouTube tutorial on crochet! That would solve all of my problems! Oh, self from yesterday at about 9:35pm, how earnest and overly optimistic you were. I loaded the video and began to watch... After about 15 seconds, the woman was still adjusting her zoom angle on her hand and talking about holding the yarn at precisely the right tension between her middle finger and her thumb. By the 20-second mark, I was scanning the list of recommended videos in the sidebar and had Googled "how to start crocheting" in another tab. (Did I mention that I have a doctor's appointment this morning to determine whether or not ADD medication might be appropriate for me?) Finally, I felt ready to begin. I sat down on the couch and began to work, carefully counting stitches/chains/yos, and telling myself how proud of me Laura Ingalls would be (when in doubt, I ask myself, "WWLID?"). After about 35 minutes, this is what I came up with:

Roughly half the size of the actual product . In addition to crochet,
let's add drawing crochet projects in MS Paint
to my list of "Things I Cannot Do."

Just like when I went on that attempted bike ride with Crista, I felt like a total embarrassment. Where had that strange lump on the bottom come from? Why was the scarf getting narrower with each row of chains/yos/stitches? Where was a Finch when I needed one? (Kristi learned at the feet of her mother, who is a true artist with a crochet hook.) Would Laura Ingalls still want to hang out with me? I knew I had gone horribly awry when I tried to just pull the yarn to unravel the whole thing, and it got stuck on a giant knot about halfway through the scarf mess.

Sometimes, I think that I think I'm craftier than I really am. It's one of my biggest flaws (right alongside crippling social anxiety and flat feet). So... that's the story of how I wasted my evening. If you made it this far, I'm impressed. If you didn't, I can't blame you. If you know how to crochet or know of a good online tutorial, please leave a comment so I can figure out what the heck I'm doing instead of wasting six weeks' worth of evenings on the scarf that was not meant to be. Save me from myself.


Kristi said...

Oh how our social media blend together. I want to 'like' this, so just think, "If I posted this on facebook, Kristi would have 'liked' it."

The Fire Wife said...

I liked this story. I'm going to start the WWLID. She was so wise. Like a miniature Buddah.