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I am no good at crafts.  My knitting is terrible.  And there was a lot of knitting in my childhood, so there was a lot of scope for being terrible.  I went to one of those small parish schools with several classes in one room.  Because children of one class needed to be occupied while the others were taught, and because it was profoundly sexist environment presided over by nuns, we did a lot of knitting.  My speciality was a curious item that could best be described as a triangular scarf.  It never caught on.  Not only were they useless and ugly, my ill-fated garments were also ages in the making.  This was because I am not one of Mother Nature’s multi-taskers.  Knitting was a very social and chatty kind of activity for us.  But I was not able to simultaneously knit and talk.  I really liked just talking.

Quite how and why the crochet bug hit me is a mystery.  But it did.  And so I hauled myself off to a one-night class.  I regretted it straightaway.  There was no proper streaming.  There were women who were phenomenal at crafts, who could have knit their own straitjacket and stitched themselves into it.  Their transition from two needles to one was, in every sense of the word, seamless.  I did not belong among their kind.  I needed the remedial class.  I could not wrap the wool around my hand properly.  I could not remember how to form a stitch.  I kept losing track of how many stitches I had done.  And then it all came flooding back to me.  There had been two problems with knitting.  The first was accidentally knitting garments of a bizarre and unsettling nature.  The other was the terrible tension.  Not real life, dog-eat-dog stuff.  No, the tension of the wool.  And here it was again with crocheting.  Each stitch was wound so tightly that working back into it in the next line required a kind of stabbing action.  It was like committing a long, slow series of GBHs.  The very nice and patient teacher assured me that it would all come good with practice.  Yes, it would, but in a different way.  Experience has taught me that I would not improve my tension with practice.  I would simple learn to stab faster.

I like to take an interest in how people learn.  And so I glanced about the room to see how the others were getting on.  People learning any new skill tend to make the same kinds of mistake and so it was of crochet.  Not counting their stitches.  Not crocheting into the right stitch.  Not picking up the last stitch at the end of the line.   But, oh no, not me.  I made mistakes that were mine and mine alone.  In one instance, the very kind and patient instructor stared in utter bafflement at my piece, turning it over in her hands to try and figure out what I had done and in the end ripping back three lines to fix it.  I think if I had invested any significance in my skills with a needle I might have been upset at having a level of mediocrity all of my own.  But I chose to see myself as a maverick, an individualist.  Not for me the mistakes of the common rabble.  No, I was going to forge new mistakes that would be looked upon in stupefaction for generations to come.

After what seemed like hours of stabbing and wrestling, I made this

And after that I made these.

Not bad for two hours of effort from a clueless amateur.  If I had been going for a triangular effect, I’d have been delighted. If you know nothing about crochet, or do but are of a conciliatory nature, they are quite respectable.   But I am no loss to the textile industry.   I noticed in writing this that the word needles is only one letter away from the word needless, and that’s so true of my relationship with crafts.  We can safely say that nobody will ever sashay down the catwalk of Milan in any of my creations.  Sonia Rykiel’s place in the firmament of knitwear designers is secure.  And I can give up on crafts and go back to just talking.

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