One of my favorite things about crochet is that while the act of continuously crocheting one stitch after the other is small and simple, it can lead to big results. Thousands of tiny stitches can turn into a beautiful, colorful blanket ready to welcome a new baby home from the hospital or keep an aging grandmother warm. I also love the fact that not only does crochet result in a finished project for us to beautify our homes or to gift to someone we love, but the act of creating helps us become better people along the way. I believe there is something to be learned by engaging in any type of craft, but I think crochet is an especially symbolic and strengthening form of creation. Here are a few life lessons that sometimes pop into my mind when my hands are busy crocheting.
1. Being Good At Anything Takes Practice
I’ve been crocheting for over twenty years, but whenever I decide to learn a new stitch or attempt a new design I’ve never tried before, I always remind myself to do a practice swatch before I jump in to the full project. Sometimes I’m so anxious to get started and the vision is so clear in my head that I just want to go full steam ahead, but I know that things will go much more smoothly if I take the time to make sure I really understand the stitch and the pattern and the color combinations before it’s time to go. Sometimes I have to do multiple practice swatches before I finally I get it right.
Sometimes it can be frustrating to force myself to practice because no one will ever see or use those practice swatches and I’m tempted to feel like I’m wasting my time. But I try to think about all the other successful creators out there in the world, who most likely got where they are because of hours and hours of practice. Published authors usually have thousands and thousands of pages of written words that no one will ever see. Athletes put in hours and hours of practice that don’t get broadcast on television. Most artists usually have hundreds of paintings to every one painting that is hanging in a gallery. When you think about the end result, their hours of practice and their unseen work doesn’t seem like a waste when the end result is something that demonstrates that they have truly taken the time to master their craft.
2. It’s Okay To Start Over
There’s probably nothing more humbling than getting to the end of a project and realizing that I’ve made a huge mistake and that I have to pull the whole thing out. Ah! But after years of crocheting and undoing and redoing dozens of projects, I’ve realized that the ability to start over is one of life’s greatest gifts. Sometimes in life we may find ourselves walking down a wrong road, but if we have enough grit and humility, we can force ourselves to stop and get ourselves back to where we need to be. Sometimes when I’m stuck on a project or it’s not turning out how I want, I reach out to my daughters or my crochet friends for their advice and opinions. Sometimes we have to do the same thing in life when we get stuck–to just pause and acknowledge that we need help and be brave enough to ask for it.
3. Trial and Error is How We Grow
Sometimes I have an idea in my head for a new crochet project, but I’m not sure exactly how it will turn out or if I’ll even like it when it’s finished. What if it turns out ugly or it doesn’t work? Even though it’s hard to admit, the only way I can know for sure is to just get to work and try it out. Sometimes it ends up turning out exactly how I thought it would, sometimes it turns out better, but there are also times when the idea just doesn’t work at all. But the interesting thing is that usually when I make something that didn’t turn out, I usually have a good idea at the end of how to fix it and I can use that knowledge to improve the design and turn it into something that works. But I have to realize that I would have never been able to improve the design if I hadn’t made the crappy design first. In life we may have new ideas or new inspiration, but the first time we try doesn’t work out, so we give up. But crochet has taught me that giving up is the antithesis of creating! I truly believe that the key to creating a great design is being brave enough to travel down lots of unsuccessful roads in order to find the right one.
4. Creativity Doesn’t Need Compensation to Have Value
In our face-paced, media driven society, I feel like there is more pressure than ever for all of us to prove our worth by being famous with our talents or our wealth. There seems to be an invisible attitude in the air that spending time developing a skill is only worth it if you’re going to take it to a professional level and monetize it somehow. I think this attitude is a drain on our society and discourages a lot of people from being creative when it could be so beneficial to their lives. Any type of creativity is going to be beneficial to you as an individual because creating something takes courage and hard work! I think we could all benefit more from creating for the sake of being creative, and sharing our creations to inspire and enrich each others lives. If you do happen to create something that also doubles as a business or helps you earn money, then good for you! But if you also just want to create because it makes you happy, then don’t let the pressure of being famous or making money hold you back. We don’t need to be the most popular crocheters in the world to make beautiful crochet.
5. It’s Never Too Late To Try Again or Try Something New
One of the best things that has happened as a result of starting this website is the numerous comments and emails I’ve received from some of you who’ve said that you are trying a pattern or a stitch for the first time. Starting something new takes so much courage and I think it’s one of the best skills we can develop in ourselves. No matter where we are in life, it’s never too late to pick up a hook and start learning to crochet! Similarly, no matter where we are in life, it’s never too late to follow a new dream, to set a new goal or to do something we’ve never done before, or to make new relationships or mend old ones. And most importantly, even if we’ve failed at something before, it’s never too late to pick ourselves back up and try again.