When I was 6 or 7 years old (or maybe even younger), my mother and grandmother taught me to crochet. My Girl Scouts Brownie troop was making granny squares to be joined into one big afghan that we would give to an elderly person in the community, as I recall. Both Mom and Grandma had bags and bags of leftover yarn from other, prior projects. They were both talented craftswomen – both sewed, knit, and crocheted lovely clothes for my and my sister’s Barbie dolls, some of which I still have. In addition, they learned to quilt, do crewel embroidery, needlepoint, ceramics, candlewick embroidery, you name it.
My father and grandfather were no slouches, either. They had their own crafts and hobbies: woodworking, leather tooling, painting, playing the organ, accordion, trumpet, flugle horn, trombone, and banjo… being creative was just part of being in our family.
Today, I decided to tackle my extraordinarily disorganized home office. I keep the rest of my house very neat and tidy, but for the past couple of years, my home office has been the dumping ground for paperwork to be filed, crafts both new and half done, and just the general detritus of life. Because I’m starting a new job in two weeks, I decided it was time to get down to business and clean out, organize, etc.
As I was going through a pile of craft supplies, I came across something that tore at me in an unexpected way: my mother’s crochet hook case. A simple, beige canvas pouch with a zipper across the top that held all of her crochet hooks and row markers. Some of them, especially the aluminum hooks, are at least 50 years old and show some wear, and the minute I unzipped that case and reached in to pull out a hook, I was overcome with a swell of emotion and sadness because Mom isn’t here anymore.
My mother died this year, in February, and though I miss her, it’s not normally an ache inside me. These crochet hooks produced an ache in me that continues as I write this. I remember her hands. I remember her repeatedly showing me how to hold the yarn and the hook and how to create the various stitches. I remember the first granny square I made, full of vibrant colors.
Crafting was a love my mother and I shared, even after I moved 1,500 miles away. I would send her patterns for scarves or afghans I thought she might like, and she would do the same. The last couple of years, when she was more infirm, she wasn’t as devoted to her crafts, too caught up in the day-to-day ministrations of taking her pills, and trying to keep the pain away… and medicating herself with alcohol.
But the December before last, after my sister and brother-in-law moved in with her and began taking really good care of her, Mom started to rebound a little. She was more lucid and happier than she had been for some time. So much so that a couple of months before she died, she joined a prayer shawl ministry her former church sponsored.
After Mom died, my sister sent me most of Mom’s crafting stuff, including some of her yarn stash, some crewel embroidery kits, an unfinished prayer shawl, and those wonderful crochet hooks.
After I complete the craft project I’m currently working on (a counted cross-stitch of pink and purple anemones), I plan on finishing that prayer shawl and sending it to the ministry in memory of my mother. And I’ll definitely be using her crochet hook size J to do the job.
I think Mom would approve.