A barely stay inside the lines of paint by the number pictures, but I still can’t resist buying craft projects at garage sales. My 50-cent splurge on a child’s how-to-knit and crochet kit I rationalized as something handy to have if my daughter got the urge to learn.
She never got the urge, but with my son’s announcement that his wife was expecting their first child, visions of delicate baby blankets stirred a grandmotherly urge in me. I pulled the boxes from the back of my dresser drawer and opened them.
I had two plastic knitting needles, one plastic crochet hook and four small skeins of yarn that wound into the tiniest balls of pastel pink, yellow, blue and white yarn I’ve ever seen. And I have seen plenty of yarn: My grandmother made baby afghans as well as sweaters, mittens, scarves and shawls for her children, grandchildren and in-laws. One summer, Grandma handed me skeins of black and blue yarn and taught me to knit. I knit and purled the cover for a pin-wheel pillow. As I remember it, the project was fun and fairly easy to do. I decided I would knit a baby blanket.
No matter how I held the needles and yarn something was always in the way. The first few rows of yellow yarn spiraled around the needle with my tight stitches. I worked to make big loops and the stuff sagged off the needles. I unraveled the whole mess and tried again. The longer I knitted, the more obvious that each day’s stresses revealed themselves in sections of loose or tight stitches.
Discouraged I discarded the uneven mess of yellow and picked up the tiny ball of pink yarn and plastic crochet hook. Crocheting only uses one instrument. I had enough hands to hold the yarn and make requisite loops, twists and turns.
The instructions may have been written for children, but I never figured out the knack for going from one row to the next. I added too many stitches. My intended square of crocheted yarn evolved into a wedge.
I tossed aside that flop and any idea of crocheting a baby blanket.
Finally, I picked up the white and blue skeins of yarn and a gizmo to make yarn florets for an afghan. The instruction booklet showed pictures of models holding afghans that were gardens of colorful yarn flowers.
I’ll bet those models never touched one of those gizmos. A knob at its base turned to expose metal pegs for holding the yarn I looped back and forth across the plastic head. Everything was just fine until I accidentally twisted the knob the wrong way. The wired receded, releasing the unfinished yarn flower. It fell apart, but I persisted and managed to sew together several blue and white yarn flowers. The loops were uneven, the spacing irregular and the warp out of kilter. My paint by number pictures turned out better than that.
I shoved all the unfinished projects out of sight and headed for the nearest garage sale in search of delicate, fluffy baby blankets. That was a whole lot more fun than fighting with knitting needles, crochet hooks, gizmos and yarn.