Granny Squares (Trapezoids)?

Granny Squares
One year ago, the hubs & I were excitedly planning our move to the SF bay area and knew that the start of 2013 would be entirely different and unknown. We were busy packing our stuff and getting our place “show-home” ready. I stopped sewing because of the mess it made. My fingers were itching, so I decided to take up crochet. I’ve tried knitting, but totally failed. I figured crochet would be like snowboarding. I took up snowboarding after skiing for many years because I thought there was less chance of error with one board, rather than with 2 skis. Same concept with a crochet hook and a pair of knitting needles?

As you can probably tell, my logical reasoning skills are flawed. So are my spatial reasoning skills. I know this because the LSAT told me so. A loooong time ago, as I was heading towards my university graduation, without a clue at a career path, my dad did what any concerned Asian dad would do: he registered for me to take the LSAT and paid for my law school application fee. Whaaaat?? A month before I wrote the LSAT, I cracked open an LSAT practice test book and thought, how hard can this be? Then I saw questions like this:

I panicked and closed the book. I opened it a week later and sat down to try again. I was 99% certain that I didn’t want to be a lawyer, but that’s not what concerned me. I needed to know that I could visually deconstruct something and reconstruct it in a different perspective. I knew that I wanted my career path to somehow intersect with visual design, so I wasn’t ready to fail at something that I thought should be a natural ability in creative people. Since then, I’ve discovered that it doesn’t really matter what your natural abilities are if you have a strong willingness to learn new skills. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to solve a rubik’s cube, nor build fancy legos with Froo & Boo, but I’m ok with that. When I try to figure out how in the heavens I’m supposed to sew lining into a garment, I take my time and turn to YouTube, because YouTube is the modern-day-teacher-of-everything-there-is-to-know. I learned how to hula hoop watching YouTube videos.

Anyhoo, back to knitting: you have one ball of yarn and 2 sticks. That’s it. How is my brain supposed to understand how a ball of yarn can become something so beautiful? I could only ever manage to knit a scarf because I had a friend to coach me at every mistake and cast on/off for me. Dropping and adding a stitch–this kind of stuff would make my brain explode.

This is a photo of my one “successful” knitting project that I knit more than 10 years ago. A skinny scarf that is really long because I only stopped knitting when I ran out of yarn. Even after wrapping it around my neck twice, it is still really long. It gets caught on EVERYTHING: car doors, shopping carts, zipper pulls, chairs…
Long Skinny Scarf
Forward to crochet: I found this video on Youtube, bought yarn and a crochet hook. It took a loooooong time. I must have stopped and hit the rewind button a thousand times. But then, I totally got it–Eureka! I was super pumped that I overcame some spatial reasoning hurdles and learned how to crochet.

My first granny square took many attempts before I completed it. It has very loose tension. This photo shows both the front and back:
granny squares
Each square turned out a different size and shape. Side-by-side comparison of some granny squares:
Granny Squares
Granny Squares
Here is the kicker: my mom is amazing at crochet. AMAZING. She can simply look at something and recreate it. She makes up her own designs. She tried to teach me when I was young, but I wasn’t interested–I thought crochet was old-fashioned–silly me. She taught me to sew, which I am forever grateful for. When we were at my parents’ house over the holidays, I brought some yarn and a crochet hook to make more granny squares while we chilled together. She was watching me crochet and said: “you are holding the hook all wrong.” Then she took my hook and showed me how to hold it and continued, really fast, to crochet my granny square. Then she said: “your crochet hook is the wrong size. It’s too big.” Um, ok mom, but what about the 75 other granny squares I already made? I’m glad I started with really cheap, 100% cotton yarn!
Granny Squares
I just kept on crocheting throughout the holidays, with the wrong grip and the wrong hook. I was planning on making a navy blue lap blanket with some random white squares sewn in. But then I encountered a problem: the white yarn is thicker than the blue yarn, even though it’s the same brand, making my white granny squares bigger (about the same size as my first ever granny square). This new-found knowledge has caused some indecision about my original plans, which has now halted all production of granny squares. My new year’s resolution: to complete this beast so I can kick spatial reasoning’s ass and stitch it into a blanket. I will definitely end up with an asymmetrical blanket.
Granny Squares
As for my earlier reference about snowboarding… I came back to San Mateo really sore. Then I had hip pain one day. Then at night, I couldn’t move my left leg and I had intense pain. The hubs had to half-carry me to the bathroom, while I hobbled and cried. I went to an excellent chiropractor the very next day and found out that my leg was jammed into the hip socket. The chiropractor must be a genius in spatial reasoning–to figure out how my body was misaligned, how it affected everything else and how to fix me. GENIUS.

Another resolution: to exercise. It’s embarrassing to say that I don’t exercise at all. Sure, I run after Froo & Boo, but that’s it. So I signed up for a yoga class. I also bought a pair of 2-pound weights. The hubs laughed at me because little Boo was playing with them as if they were baby toys.

Some more resolutions: the next time I see my mom, I plan to bring this pattern, with the recommended yarn and the correct hook–to learn how to crochet her way. The next time the Froo & Boo family is up at Whistler, the hubs and I both agree that we will take ski lessons together, along with the kids, so we can ski as a family. There is always so much to learn.

As for this wordy post–I don’t always have so much to write–but I’ve found that it’s much easier to think while crocheting than sewing because the latter is so loud and fast. Crocheting slows down the world and gives you a quiet place to think. As a reward for sticking around, I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of my mom when she was young. A bikini that she crocheted herself! Out of some sort of waterproof nylon-type yarn. With those abs! Whaaaaat?? I must have my dad’s genes. He is very handsome. Although, he did all of my high school Physics homework for me. Go figure.
Crochet Bikini
Crochet Bikini

December 20, 1975, Toronto, ON

My parents’ wedding day: December 20, 1975 / Toronto, ON

* I bought the background grey fabric with the sleeping monsterz with my Project Run & Play winnings!

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3 responses to “Granny Squares (Trapezoids)?

  1. Mary Tang

    Thanks for sharing your crochet story, Irene. No doubt your mum would have told you by now that it doesn’t matter if the squares are different sizes (though it helps!) because you can always ADD to the smaller squares to make them bigger; might even look more interesting with another colour or pattern!

    I LOVE your mum’s bikini and would have bought it instantly were they in your shop (not that I have the body for them now LOL)! How lucky are you to have such a beautiful and talented mum!

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