I know enough about crochet to make a semi-symetrical rectangular-shaped scarf, some nifty flowers and leaves, a butterfly, covered buttons, some simple Amigurumi animals, a shaggy purse cover, and a zig-zag patterned afghan that was re-christened a cape because of it’s “flair.”
I took a brief refresher class in crochet as an adult, but I learned from my grandmother as a kid and managed to create a few doilies using chain and shell stitches. I never progressed beyond the doily stage and who needs those anymore? So I put down my needle and took up the flute. At some point in the 21st century crochet and knitting have made a come-back and we call this “fiber art.”
With a crochet hook and some yarn in my hands I am able to sit more patiently in waiting rooms and during the televised sporting events that monopolize our family television. I enjoy the rhythm of creating the various stitches and watching things take shape, even if my version of the shape is a little askew. Crochet often helps reduce the amount of snacking I do during television as well. It’s a good thing. And yet …
It’s not ALL good. It is difficult for me to admit, but, I believe I have a “yarn problem.” A yarn problem is a little like an “alcohol problem.” I am addicted to buying yarn. It is very difficult for me to walk away empty-handed from the craft store yarn department. There. My secret is out.
You may note that I did not say I am addicted to crochet. I am simply addicted to yarn. I love to imagine that I will actually use the yarn to create something roughly based on the patterns which I get in my email every month. I will make booties for a new baby. I will make gifts for people at work. But I rarely do. I am always hopeful that I will, this time, choose a project that is easy enough and interesting enough that I will complete it, even if it takes me a year. The problem is, I almost never finish a project. And the reason is: yarn is evil.
Yarn is beautiful, and soft, and alluring. There is fuzzy yarn, silky yarn, wool yarn, ribbon yarn, tube yarn and faux fur yarn. You can buy yarn for socks, yarn for lace, and yarn for wash cloths. There is something called “eyelash” yarn too. And as craft materials go, yarn is generally not that expensive, at least one skein at a time. It is often readily available at church flea markets priced by the bag (and what does THAT tell you?!).
It is not the fault of the yarn if you never actually finish the project. But if you’re not going to actually finish the project, you may as well buy something similar off the rack because it will be cheaper and you can wear it the same day. Yarn cannot crochet itself. You have to do it. This requires (a) skill, and (b) perseverance.
Now here is the conundrum; while yarn cannot crochet itself, once you unleash it from its wrapper it seems to come to life and begins to seek out ways to get tangled up in things, especially other yarn. Also coat hangers, electrical cords, shoes, the zipper on your purse, and the family cat. This is the nature of yarn’s evil — it is nearly impossible to de-tangle it from other objects once it has successfully co-mingled with them.
There are two schools of thought on de-tangling yarn. There is the school of “find the end of one type of yarn and painstakingly pull it on a backwards path through the other fibers until you have it free, then roll it into a tight ball and secure the end by tucking it into the ball.” This method allows you to save the yarn for future projects. The other school of thought is the one I follow: Pull hard on a strand until it breaks, and repeat this until all offending strands have released their prey. This may sound cruel, but fighting evil requires strong and decisive action. Once you have released the strands into a broken mass of short strings, put them in a bag and throw the whole mess away.
You could try respecting the yarn and put it away in it’s own plastic baggie. But this requires forethought and planning. If you have no distractions at home this could work for you.
But if you must put down the yarn and needle quickly to answer a child’s call or let out the dog, you will come back to a tangled mass of yarn, I guarantee it. The stuff is insidious.
The moral of the story is, never open a skein of yarn without a professional backup fiber artist nearby; one with the training to tame the yarn into submission — and make the project for you!