I'm not one to make New Year's Resolutions, but in January, I took inspiration from something I read in a magazine about setting goals for the year ahead. The article was primarily focused on achieving your creative goals and suggested that if you were a visual person, instead of writing a list of things with tick boxes next to them - rather dry and dull - try sticking inspirational images on your wall of projects you'd love to attempt. This makes things more real and, therefore, attainable and seeing all the vivid colours and textures, makes you want to start straight away.
So, I did just that and decided, that to start with, I wanted to learn to crochet, to be able to create some of the things I was looking at on my wall. A good friend of mine has always offered to teach me, so armed with a crochet hook and some yarn, I finally took her up on her offer and went over to her house. It was a lovely morning - very 'hyggelig' - where we sat and chatted and ate homemade leek and potato soup with ingredients from her allotment. She showed me a lovely cushion she'd made which she'd edged with crochet and we flicked through books with projects she was excited about making. We had a lovely morning and I'm very grateful. Her confidence and enthusiasm rubbed off on me and a trip to the local library ensued to look at what crochet books were out there to enable me to continue learning the skills she had taught me.
One book in particular stood out called 'Beginner's Guide to Crochet' by Sarah Shrimpton. I checked the reviews online and they were all glowing and had five stars so I went ahead and bought myself a copy, which is now very dog eared and thumbed through, with notes scribbled all over it.
The reason why it is so good, is that it is truly a beginners book. It isn't a book with lovely projects and a few techniques thrown in at the beginning for good measure. I imagine this is due to the fact that Sarah too was a beginner not so long ago and taught herself to crochet after becoming a mum for the second time. She started a blog which is now full of ideas, advice and patterns. No doubt she would have liked a book like hers full of all the detail she had to search for when learning. Sarah understands how much information and encouragement you need as a beginner and she has thankfully, written it all down in this guide.
Her style is chatty, friendly, honest and reassuring. Sarah guides you each step of the way, not leaving out any detail and telling you when it doesn't matter if it's not perfect! For each stitch or technique, there is a project to follow to practise and hone your new skill. It also means you create something from the start, which is very satisfying.
The book is split into chapters, the first involving learning the basic three stitches you need in order to crochet and also how to increase and decrease. I am gradually working my way through the whole book, which I would highly recommend for helping you to become competent and to ensure you continue to learn new techniques, keeping your interest alive.
Crocheting has become very addictive - as Sarah warns you in the introduction to her book. Actually, I started learning at the start of the year, just as I found out my dad had a terminal illness and it has been my saving grace ever since. it has given me a focus, creative outlet and distraction, whilst I have been grappling with my emotions, grief and struggling with bringing meaning back into my life and finding a way to move forward. It may sound daft, but it's true. Many people use craft as a way to cope with depression.
I would also recommend sharing your skills, it's such a nice thing to do. It's homely, intimate and friendly. It makes you feel connected, cosy, happy and special, especially in a world that feels more and more uncaring, remote and hostile. I'd highly recommend it and who knows where it may lead you?
Above are photos of my finished projects from the first chapter. The cafetière cosy is crocheted in Double Crochet (UK terms). The dishcloths are in Half-Treble Crochet. I also experimented working in stripes. The bangles are in Treble Crochet, which covers the three basic stitches. The lavender hearts and bunting practise your decreasing and increasing. All the projects, except the cosy - made with wool from a charity shop - were knitted using Rico Yarns - Creative Cotton Aran, Essential Cotton Soft and Baby Cotton Soft. I shall post more pictures of my work from the following chapters, which include working in the round and mixing stitches together.