There was something in the air that night


Pattern: Clamshell Scarf by Vanessa Hailey
Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver (100% acrylic), colorways Cherry Red and White
Hook: U.S. J/6.0mm

I can’t claim to have mastered crochet. I’ve just started that journey. But with four crochet scarves for the Special Olympics Winter Games in Washington State under my belt, I feel I’ve got a good grasp on basic technique.


As a neophyte still, I’m not claiming that I proceed with confidence in situations calling for only basic knowledge. With each scarf I’ve crocheted, my ability has grown. But each one has brought on several moments where I had to feel my way, trying to understand what was being asked of me, squinting at my work in an attempt to perceive the stitches, dithering about whether I was starting and ending in the right place. As I made stabs at it, sometimes correct and sometimes harbingers of temporary failure, I learned.


The learning’s not over. It never is, for these skills of manipulation that combine hand and head. Knowing what to do doesn’t always amount to being able to do it; having the right physical movements doesn’t always amount to understanding what is being done. Maybe it’s telling that I tend to choose projects that will force me to attempt a new technique. If I had a solid grasp on the whole process before I began, going through the exercise would be less significant. Instead, I find myself stretching for something slightly beyond my grasp. I know from experience that I can’t wait to do it until I understand it, since I will never understand without doing. And further, coming to that understanding means hesitating, screwing up, proceeding when my comprehension is murky, making a stab, seeing how it comes out, being willing to go back and try again if it goes wrong.

Learning crochet this summer has sent me down that road again and again, and I’m grateful to be reminded of the virtues of this trial-and-error method. I can’t help wondering whether it would serve as well in areas of my practice beyond craft and the material world.

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