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Crochet: It#8217;s a love, hate craft

Recently, I’ve embarked on crocheting an afghan, thinking it would help with some stress and add a little charm and color to my living room.

Sixty-four granny squares and thousands of stitches later, my afghan is colorful, charming, still not finished and causing more anxiety than anything.

Not that I haven’t crocheted an afghan before, I have, but this one seems to be taking making my blood pressure rise abnormally.

Crocheting is a skill I’ve always been proud to have, despite it triggering thoughts of grandmas for some.

It’s a hobby many of the women in my family have taken up as it was passed down from generation to generation.

While I didn’t learn the craft from my grandmother, who tried to teach me when I was young and thought somehow she was magically whipping yarn into a blanket, I did finally pick it up from my aunt Kathy.

I was able to pick up each of the general stitches pretty quickly and soon enough I made my first afghan.

It was a ripple pattern, the stitches were too tight and the ends where I switched colors hung out all over the place, making the blanket look like fat centipede with tiny legs.

My mom fell in love with it like it was a scribbled piece of artwork by a five year old. She loved it, imperfections and all. She displayed on our sofa and wrapped herself in it on cold nights.

Soon enough as I found my feet with the craftwork and began to make clean, precise work, I started to give the items away as gifts.

As soon as the family found out, I began to get requests, leaving little time for me to work on projects I wanted to create. So, I guess it can be said this afghan was started to make up for this.

I create the design on my own; four colors used for each round in the unique granny square pattern.

The Granny Square is considered the “staple” pattern in crochet. This type of crochet is a very American compared to the lace crochet brought to the U.S. by Europeans.

The Granny Square was designed for fast construction of wool blankets for pioneer families making migrating toward the West in the 1800s. Colorful and geometric the pattern often reflected the aspects of the families’ journey as designs often took on features of flowers and wheels on a wagon.

The Granny Square is something distinctive in crochet as it can only be made by this particular craftwork.

The past few years there’s been much attention given to crochet by the fashion world as there was in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The result has been increased interest in the needlework.

The patterns and yarn have been modified to attract the younger generation. And it has worked for some of us.

In college, a group of girls in one of the dorms would congregate in each others’ rooms and crochet away. This off-the-cuff group likened themselves the “Crochet Cult” and “Happy Hookers.”

For my journalism practicum class, I interviewed the group for our online paper and when I asked one of the girls why they crocheted, many gave typical responses like, “It’s fun,” and one girl stated, “It relives stress.” Another countered by saying, “It causes more stress.”

I never agreed with this statement until now.

Every night when I come home, the partially finished afghan eyes me from the futon it lays on, compelling me to work on it.

It’s become an obsession as I work on it in sometimes into the early morning on weekends. When I get up the next day the vicious cycle begins again.

My arms, neck and hands ache from working on each of the rows and rounds. Rather than releasing the tension from my muscles, it adds to the pressure already there.

The work is tedious as not only do the individual squares need to be made, but also sewed together.

There’s moments when I think I hate crochet…but then I take a step back and take a good look at what I’ve accomplished.

Then I think, “The day will come when this afghan will be more useful than just fraying my nerves.”

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.