How I Learned to Crochet

Although crochet may look very difficult to do, it is actually very easy once it is broken down into the separate stitches. To give an example, a friend whom I taught how to crochet was making a crocheted blanket after her third short lesson and she already knew all the basic stitches.

My grandmother, my first teacher

My grandmother could crochet so beautifully and I remember well how she would sit in front of the television crocheting, her hands moving so fast that it looked like magic. I must have been five when I asked her if I could also learn how to crochet. Let’s just say me trying to crochet by myself did not work out the way I thought it would. But moving right along.

My grandmother said that she would teach me and, as a surprise, my grandfather bought me my very own yellow plastic crochet hook. I learned how to do chain stitches and trebles with a beautiful purple wool (my favourite colour at the time), but soon I went on a long hiatus, during which I crocheted and knitted almost nothing.

Death in the family and an inheritance

My grandmother passed away in 2000, when I was 16, after a battle with cancer, leaving behind a cupboard full of yarn, knitting needles and crochet hooks, and crochet magazines and patterns.

As I was the only one in the family who knitted and crocheted to some degree, it was decided that I could inherit all of it.

It truly was bittersweet to clean out the cupboard and see that some of the projects were only half-made.

However, there were also crocheted blankets she had made for her grandchildren — mine with purple and white as the main colours. Pinned to it was a small slip of paper with my name.

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Teaching myself all the things

After a few months had passed and I’d looked at the crochet magazines a few times that I decided that it was high time that I taught myself properly how to crochet.

(By that time I had already taught myself how to embroider and do paper quilling, so I was quite confident that I could teach myself this from a book as well.)

Lucky for me, I already had some needlecraft books with good photos as well as some illustrations at the back of the magazines. So, after a few tries I remembered how to do a treble and after that the rest of the stitches came quite easy.

Next I taught myself how to read the pattern graphs. (Which I still prefer over written patterns and comes in very handy when working from patterns which aren’t English/Afrikaans/Dutch.)

The first thing I made was a doily. The tension was all wrong, but I did finish it, and, through that, I had learned so much that the next projects came a lot easier to me.

Where I find myself today

I am quite pleased with where I am at the moment crochet- and knitting-wise. At the moment I am teaching myself lace knitting and also want to learn brioche knitting in the future.

Where crochet is concerned, I’ve started designing my own patterns, which I am very much enjoying! My most intricate pattern so far is the Mermaid Tail Shawl, which is growing steadily.


By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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