My mom is great at crochet. When I was a child, she used to crochet all of these adorable dolls. She would start with a plastic doll head, which would generally be the stuff of nightmares, and, using a hook and a bunch of yarn, somehow turn it into something that a child would want to cuddle with instead of hide from.
A couple of years ago, I became interested in trying crochet for myself. When I asked my mom if she could teach me, she took the yarn and the hook and did something incredibly quickly that was beyond my comprehension. I attempted to crochet a few times after that, but always with very little success. With the cold and snow refusing to let up in New York, March seemed like a good time to curl up with some yarn and try crochet again.
I already had some supplies from my first attempt, including crochet hooks that I had borrowed from my sister and conveniently never given back, a yarn needle that I had bought and never used, and some stitch markers. I had dreams of making some winter accessories for myself, so I went off to Michaels and picked up some gray yarn, as well as a book titled, “Learn to Crochet the Easy Way.”
Despite the title, I did not find learning how to crochet from a book to be very easy. I spent a lot of time staring at diagrams and I did a lot of exasperated sighing. I eventually turned to YouTube for help. By following an incredibly long and not-terribly-exciting video, I managed to crochet my very first granny square.
I felt pretty accomplished after that, but I was still struggling with how to hold the yarn and how to maneuver my hands. I decided it might be a good idea to take a crochet lesson, and, after doing some research on Yelp, I wound up at a small knitting shop on the Upper East Side. There, I met with a kind, yet stern, woman, who reminded me of my grandmothers in terms of appearance, gruffness, and scent. After watching me chain a few stitches, my instructor immediately told me that I was doing everything wrong and I was never going to be a good crocheter if I kept doing things my way.
She spent a very long time trying to teach me the “right” way to hold the yarn and the hook. To her great displeasure, my mind would immediately go blank every time she asked me to replicate something she had just done. I was reprimanded numerous times for, among other things, not paying attention, bending my left pointer finger when I wasn’t supposed to, not maintaining the proper amount of tension in the yarn, and holding the yarn in ways that simply made no sense to her. She seemed to become nicer and more encouraging whenever I started looking really sad, though.
After my lesson, I tried to crochet in the way that she taught me, but my left hand kept cramping up and I couldn’t seem to bend my right wrist enough to make it work. I ultimately wound up adopting a method that’s a bit of a cross between her “right” way and my old “wrong” way. I am 100% sure she would completely disapprove of my hybrid technique.
Over the next couple of weeks, I managed to crochet a headband and a pair of fingerless gloves. Those weeks were marked by a number of moments of intense frustration (like when I had to unravel most of a glove because I realized far too late that I was inadvertently making each new row slightly longer than the one below it). With the exception of those maddening instances, I found crochet to be pretty fun and somewhat therapeutic. Once I knew what I was doing, I was able to sit back, relax, and crochet away while listening to music, binge-watching “Pretty Little Liars,” or just enjoying the quiet of my apartment. I am currently working on crocheting a pair of mittens. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to finish them up sometime before the spring weather finally does arrive.
Cheryl Espinoza is an attorney and aspiring puppy-owner. She is a lover of coffee, Christmas, and all things Disney, and is in constant search of the best food and fancy cocktails in Manhattan. You can generally find her struggling to figure out how to decorate her apartment, watching bad reality TV, or playing board games far too competitively. She was born and raised in the Bronx, and currently lives with her husband in midtown Manhattan.