Monday, November 16, 2009

Bonding with the boyfriend's mom

Crocheting was my second foray into fabric arts - my first inspirations actually came as a 4 year old when I started making wrapped and sewn Xmas ornaments out of felt and colored string.  :)  So, it came as no surprise that I was pretty advanced for a 2nd grader when I took the "Learn to Crochet" summer school class.  Too young to take the class I really wanted to - baton twirling - I satisfied my summer hunger for knowledge (and getting out of the house during the afternoon) with a crocheting class of little girls in summer clothes.  We each brought a bag of cotton yarn, which, over the course of a week, we learned to crochet into square pot holders.  Every afternoon we sat together in the back of an elementary school classroom with little sea green industrial school-chairs rounded up around our instructor, a retired school-teacher herself.  Mrs. Ninas was a wizened, wrinkly woman with big thick fingers that could move yarn in deft, swift motions as she talked.  I remember thinking that her lips and body were puffy and her skin was a translucent shade of pink that comes from sitting in a dark den knitting, rather than stretching your legs in the warm summer sunlight outside.

Despite my critical assessment of Mrs. Ninas' physique, I really loved learning to crochet from her.  She was warm and patient, the way you want your grandmother to be, and she would tirelessly help us unknot, restart, and just generally fix our projects for us.  In fact, I liked crocheting class so much that I took it again the following summer, rather than baton twirling.  That summer we were each supplied with a plastic shopping bag full of 3 skeins of yarn in watermelon colors, which were to become... you guessed it - little square watermelon potholders.

At the end of this second week of crocheting camp, I still hadn't finished my potholder.  The watermelon design proved difficult for me to follow, and the class culminated on Friday afternoon with me dumping the white plastic bag into a laundry basket full of old dress up clothes in the bottom of my closet.  "Watermelon potholders are dumb," I thought with disdain as I tossed my half finished project into the basket.  "In the hot summer, which is when you'd use a watermelon-themed item, don't you eat cold foods anyway?" I wondered.

I remember how sad I was when I heard that Mrs. Ninas died a few summers later.  Perhaps it was her warm puffiness, or her patience with my unfinished potholder, but I was really sad that we never crocheted together after that class.  I guess it didn't occur to me that she probably didn't "hang out" with little girls from her crocheting classes, especially ones who'd rather be outdoors than in a dark den crocheting pointless potholders.  When I heard about her death, I knew it was final.  My fingers couldn't recreate those once-familiar patterns of movement to crochet.  Although I'd tried to pick up the project from my closet a few times, when I hear about her death, I knew my crocheting career was over.  I threw the unfinished, pointless potholder away.
But lately I've had the strangest urge to learn how to crochet again.  Today I saw these adorable purses online, and I thought -- hey, they're the same shape as the potholders!  :)

I realized then that I have a new crocheting partner - Jase's Mom.  I've been really wanting to bond with her over fabric arts anyway - we're both knitters, but she also crochets these beautiful blankets.  It will be a perfect bonding opportunity!

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