Crocheting through a Pandemic

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Madi­son Smith

Newswrit­ing II

May 2021

Karen Smith hold­ing her pan­dem­ic blan­ket. / Pho­to by Madi­son Smith

Cro­chet­ing dur­ing a pandemic

Dur­ing this pan­dem­ic and lock­downs peo­ple have become bored with their every­day rou­tines and are turn­ing to a 17th cen­tu­ry cure: Crocheting.

Most peo­ple know more about knit­ting than cro­chet­ing. The dif­fer­ences between knit­ting and cro­chet­ing are, knit­ting use two while those who cro­chet use just one hook.

In cro­chet­ing there are mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent pat­terns you can use. You have the granny square, which has mul­ti­ple vari­a­tions. And guess what? They do not even have to do a square. The granny square is small lit­tle pieces of yarn that get cro­cheted and then sewed togeth­er to make a blan­ket. As you can see in the two pho­tos how dif­fer­ent both granny squares are. Once you got the sim­ple pat­tern down, you can then move on to the more inter­cut pat­terns like the granny square that Edith Arnold made that she did not turn into a blanket.

Grand­ma Edith’s granny square, which is 100 years old. Edith is Karen Smith’s grand­moth­er. / Pho­to by Madi­son Smith

When begin­ning your cro­chet­ing jour­ney, you should always start off with a sim­ple three-stitch pat­tern which is where you take the loop that you have after your knot and then you first start with your chain which is where you just keep tak­ing your hook and putting a piece of yarn onto it.

Guin­n­e­vere Almquist, 20, who is from Will­ing­ton, Con­necti­cut, recent­ly start­ed to cro­chet. “My grand­moth­er tried to teach me, but I couldn’t get it. Years lat­er one of my best friends effec­tive­ly taught me how to cro­chet.” Not every­one who learns how fig­ures it out and it can get frus­trat­ing at times, but it can be achieved if you just keep practicing.

Almquist also said that she likes to make hats and has her own process of start­ing a new project. “I feel bored, then I turn on the TV and cro­chet and feel less bored.”

Dur­ing a pan­dem­ic people’s emo­tions start to run high due to the unknowns about the virus, espe­cial­ly in the ear­ly days of the pan­dem­ic. This is clear­ly shown in an ele­men­tary school in Rock­ford, Illi­nois. Ash­ley Robin­son-Walk­er, who is a trau­ma ther­a­pist and founder of the cro­chet­ing club, says, “The cro­chet­ing club helps relax stu­dents from the stress and anx­i­ety from every­day life and with the added stress of the pan­dem­ic.”  With every­thing that is going on being stressed out is not a healthy way to live. Through this cro­chet­ing club Robin­son-Walk­er says, “It helps the girls who are hav­ing a hard time deal­ing with the stress and it helps them relax and talk about what is men­tal­ly hurt­ing them.”

Mary Arnolds Granny square blan­ket. Mary is Karen Smith’s aunt./Photo by Madi­son Smith

Cro­chet­ing is for every­one all you need is a hook, yarn, scis­sors, and a cro­chet­ing book or teacher to make what­ev­er comes to mind. Julia Clark from the Will­ing­ton Knit­ting Club says, “You can make any­thing you want out of yarn, you could make a sweater, scarf, or maybe some mit­tens, but it is all about patience because it takes time and some mis­takes to be able to make a blan­ket or a scarf.” Just like how you make mis­takes in life you can make mis­takes in cro­chet­ing and miss a whole stich and start your row all over again. Clark says, “The fun in cro­chet­ing is that you can be at any skill lev­el and make a won­der­ful project and if the pow­er ever goes out you still have some­thing to do till the pow­er comes back on.”

Edith Arnold’s granny square blanket./Photo by Madi­son Smith

Knit­ting Cri­a­tions own­er says, “Dur­ing the pan­dem­ic they made rough­ly dou­ble of the amount that they made before the pan­dem­ic.” They are cur­rent­ly mak­ing about 54 thou­sand dol­lars in total sales per year of yarn, cro­chet­ing and knit­ting acces­sories, books, and pat­terns to name a few things they sell. They are known for sell­ing high qual­i­ty yarns from local and non-local ven­dors. They are also open to the pub­lic and have class­es and work­shops to help you learn how to cro­chet or knit and those cost ten dol­lars per two-hour ses­sions. The instruc­tor of the class is there to make sure that the pat­tern match­es the project. Knit­ting Cri­a­tions is open Tues­day-Wednes­day 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Thurs­day 10 a.m. — 6 p.m., Fri­day 10 a.m. — 5 p.m., and on Sat­ur­day 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. in Somers, Connecticut.

Cro­chet­ing has been a pas­time  for so many peo­ple over the gen­er­a­tions. This was the way most peo­ple had blan­kets to keep warm in the win­ter for an afford­able price and to make orna­ments for the Christ­mas tree and oth­er dec­o­ra­tions. It was also used as a tool to help the chil­dren learn how to make some­thing that they would be proud of the result but also learn­ing how to be care­ful not to tan­gle the yarn and to be able to make a mis­take and fig­ure out how to fix it and to ask for help when they did need help.

George Arnold’s blan­ket
Karen Smith’s uncle. / Pho­to by Madi­son Smith

Cro­chet­ing can help you relax because you can just sit down and turn on some music and just go through the motions of putting each stich togeth­er and to change up the col­or every once and a while and you do not have to wor­ry about the pres­sures of mak­ing sure that what you are mak­ing is some­one else’s def­i­n­i­tion of per­fect. You get to say that you made some­thing instead of buy­ing a sim­i­lar cro­cheted blan­ket for $10 to $51 on ama­zon when you can make it for like $10 or less your­self. You do not have to cro­chet by your­self get your friends togeth­er, social­ly dis­tanced, and sit and talk while hav­ing some back­ground music and in no time, you will have a scarf made with­in about two to three hours.

Cro­chet­ing can teach you some lessons that you did not even real­ize, for exam­ple, you could learn what your cop­ing mech­a­nism is for what you might be going through now. It is bet­ter than drink­ing your prob­lems away or even smok­ing. Cro­chet­ing is a way for you to slow­ly get rid of some emo­tion­al prob­lems in your life while keep­ing you healthy and it is a great way to make friends if you join a cro­chet­ing or knit­ting group. You do not have to keep the items that you make you can give them to friends and fam­i­ly as a present or you can donate them to hos­pi­tals, senior hous­ing, home­less shel­ters, ani­mal shel­ters, ani­mal hos­pi­tals, NICU, basi­cal­ly any­where that takes dona­tions and gives them to peo­ple who need it. Once you get the hang of it you can also teach any of your friends who want to learn how to cro­chet so you guys can hang­out and cro­chet together. 

If you do not like cro­chet­ing after you have tried it you can always stop and either come back at a lat­er point or you can donate the yarn and hook to a thrift store that sells craft items so that some­one else can start their own project even if they do not have all the mon­ey to get the items.

Cro­cheted but­ter­fly made by Karen Smith. / Pho­to by Madi­son Smith

Karen Smith is the authors grand­moth­er, and all the pic­tures are of her cre­ations and her fam­i­lies’ cre­ations that have been passed down through the generations.