Crochet Addict: Who Needs Two Hands Anyway?

Since I entered into the world of knitting, my life has transformed. To say I’m addicted is a slight understatement. I’ve been taken in by the endless exciting things that I can create, from hats and ties to shawls and slippers. I can hold something in my hand and say “I made this” I didn’t buy it, I spent hours and days creating it. It’s a real pleasure to see others wearing the things that I’ve made- they’re bespoke, hand-made with love.

My pride and joy so far (below) is a knitted tie. It came out beautifully and I sent it as a birthday gift to someone who it suited perfectly -it made me so happy that I was able to give a gift that was not ‘run of the mill’ to someone who would take pleasure from that.

Knitted tie
Knitted Tie

Anyway, knitting has become a passion. This is not only because I enjoy it so much and can’t wait to get home to carry on a project, it’s also because it helps with my stress and anxiety. I am someone who carries a lot of anxiety and worry day to day, much of which I can’t control.

Part of this, I think, comes from living with one hand. For example, I stress about the checkout part of shopping, getting out my purse, rushing to get my change/card back into my purse, packing, etc. this applies to a lot of things. I have little tricks too help things run smoother, but I’m constantly thinking about these things, from worrying about holding people up to trying to carry multiple things off a tube/bus without missing my stop. As you can imagine, this doesn’t exactly contribute to ‘worry free’ life.

I also think that my level anxiety comes from my upbringing and, bless her, my mother. She is a wonderful mum but she is the queen of worry and anxiety, and I’m not sure she knows quite how much. I think this anxiety, understandably, was worse when I was young. Why wouldn’t it have been, two young children, one with a disability who was clumsy and, err, a little ‘head in the clouds’. Anyway, I think I’ve inherited a lot of that worry and anxious behaviour, and I can see that my mum is calmer these days so it is ‘conquerable’ but I think my disability exacerbates it!

So back to the point, knitting really calms me. The methodical movement of the needles, I disappear into what I’m doing, the world melts away and calm takes over me. However, this wasn’t quite enough on the crafts front. I wanted to learn to crochet too – there’s so much more I would be able to create and crochet is easier to do ‘on the go’ as you don’t need to finish a row- if you get interrupted, you just stick a safety pin in the loop and put your work in your bag- it’s brilliant.

But it proved VERY difficult to start with. It was much harder to grasp than knitting and many of the tutorials involved a lot of right hand hook work/movement that I just can’t do. Unlike knitting, I needed to hold the yarn in my left hand. Frustration ensued. Anger. Cursing. I tried at least four times to master crochet, working some of the yarn, it looking very wrong, unravelling, trying again and failing, again.

I had a few stumbling blocks. The first is that I tried to crochet with the most used style hook.

Slim Crochet hook
Standard Crochet Hook

BIG mistake for me, I had no grip, the hook just kept twirling between my right ‘hand’ and my leg. Quickly I realised that this style hook just wasn’t going to work. So I bought a set of ‘ergonomic hooks’.

Ergonomic Crochet Hooks
Ergonomic Crochet Hooks

This helped considerably, I have more grip as I hold the hook between my hand and my leg, like this.

crochet hook
‘Hook between hand and knee’ crochet method

I started again with a little more success than the first few attempts, but something still wasn’t clicking. In part I think it was because the type of yarn wasn’t ideal, but also, this whole ‘chain’ business wasn’t quite clicking. I’m still having trouble getting my head round exactly which part of the chain I’m meant to insert my hook into but I’m working on it! I did manage a messy beginning of a granny square, which seemed to be the simplest thing to learn how to crochet.

First granny square attempt
First granny square attempt

I seemed to get the basics down, but I realised I needed some better yarn to really crack it. So I put it on hold and tried again with some Stylecraft Special DK and just like that, I could crochet. It clicked. I was super chuffed.

Successful Granny Square
Successful Granny Square

And thus began my second addiction. Proving yet again, what seems to require two hands, does not actually need two hands.

Granny Squares for Mood Blanket
Granny Squares for Mood Blanket

I was still pretty slow and the ‘hand and leg’ combo wasn’t ideal. That’s when I had a slight ‘epiphany’. I could use the device that I hold my knife in to hold the hook. And voila, I practically have the proper use of a second hand.

Strap Holding Hook
‘Strap Holding Hook’ Method

If you’re one -handed and don’t have such a device, any kind of ‘strap’ would work, anything velcro based that can hold the hook tightly to your arm. It’s not perfect, I don’t have the twisty motion that a lot of crocheters use but I have more motion and I’m pretty proud of my little brainwave.

The best part is that I can crochet on the tube on the way to work, I’m now fast enough to do a square a day. I do get a lot of looks on the tube but I’m using it as a way to push myself out of my comfort zone and get used to people looking. It’s hard but the more people see, the more they get used to it. Plus I’d rather be stared at for doing something interesting with my disability than being stared at just for being me, for having an odd looking hand. This way, hopefully people see that it’s no big deal.

So, I can crochet ‘on the go’ and knit at home and I have so many awesome projects available to me. It’s so exciting, I don’t have to buy beautiful things others have made, I can make them myself! It sounds simple and obvious but when you’re so used accepting that ‘crafts’ are not really your thing because it’s fiddly and most of your stuff comes out looking like a five-year old’s art class ‘thing’, it’s a bit of a revelation. Anyway, I’ve wasted no time, I’m already all over ‘homeware’ with some beautiful coasters:

Multi-coloured crochet coasters
Multi-coloured crochet coasters

They’re not perfect or even, but then I think it adds charm, I’m not perfect or ‘even’ either, but I’m one of a kind, well, ish. What can I say, who needs two hands anyway? I’m a crochet addict and this is my story.

For anyone interested in how I crochet one-handed, or are an amputee who would like to learn to one-handed crochet, I will be doing a video soon. If would like to knit one-handed, take a look at my Casting-on knitting Tutorial – I will also be doing a follow up ‘knit stitch’ one-handed tutorial soon.

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The Art of Procrastination: My Writer’s Block – Part One

My Writer’s Block

It’s been a while since my last post and I bow my head in shame that I have been slacking on the blog front. I am a procrastinator of the worst kind -I set goals, things I would like to achieve, productive uses of my time, stuff I can be proud of, and then, because it becomes part of the ‘to do’ list, I instantly would rather find something, anything else to do. It’s terrible. Writing my blog, my book, weekly shops, washing, washing up, cleaning the flat, tidying up, these are all things I want to do. No, wait, the first two are the only things I actually want to do, unfortunately by the time I’ve done all the other stuff that has to be done to avoid living in squalor (and even then I’m not that great at doing them regularly enough), I look at my list and think, ‘I’d rather watch a film now’.

Add to this that I spend my working week writing for other people in the world of marketing, finding the motivation to sit down and write something of my own that is creative, funny, interesting, and actually worth reading becomes impossible.  And even now as I write this, I realise this post fulfils none of the above criteria, but sod it, I’ve never been one for criteria, fell short the second I was born – “all four functioning limbs? Ah, not quite.”

I know that most people find that after the daily grind stuff is complete, there is a level of procrastination that follows. Once you reach the activities you want to do, you often find you just can’t be bothered, or ran out of time, or it’s raining and you’d rather watch GOT or Friends in your pjs drinking cups of tea and eating cake – unless of course you’re a self-motivated saint in super drive.

My better half is one of these self-motivated saints that successfully does all the washing up (quicker than me) and sits down to write at least 500 words each day of the weekend. Instead of his almost fastidious dedication to his writing inspiring me to do the same, I sit in my pjs, jealous, and even more reluctant to do it – just with a steaming side plate of my own self-imposed guilt and sense of failure as a human being.

He’s just a better person than me, he wants to write and he does, even if he comes out grumbling, he’ll sit in his room and write. I’m proud of him for it. But I also have a weird satisfaction that in this case he’s the exception and I’m the rule. Or so I’m assuming, you could all be sat there thinking: “No dear, he’s the rule and you’re just the lazy, unproductive exception trying to justify said lazy behaviour by bringing us all down with you”. To that I say “touché my fictional readers, you are quite correct and astute” (although I’m not convinced that’s the case – to both your astuteness and me being the exception).

However, saying that, I actually took it a step further. I’ve become so adverse to writing as a weekend activity that I managed to fill my time over the last few months with other crafts just to put off writing.

So now that I’ve bored you all with a rather long-winded explanation (and fantasy conversation) detailing my lack of blogging and human failure, today’s post is going to show you what spectacular projects I’ve worked on instead of all the things I should be doing (mainly writing, some cleaning too). Be prepared to be exceptionally underwhelmed….

The Art of Procrastination

I’d like to point out faffing as one of my procrastinations, but there’s no picture for that. Also, nursing hangovers has been a bit of a contributor to weekend laziness, although often I’m not even really hanging but just tired from the late night (yes, I’m getting old) – it’s still enough of an excuse to watch films and drink tea. But enough of that, behold actual activities.

Painting:

I warn you I am a very bad artist, extraordinarily bad. My paintings always look wrong, some basic perspective knowledge is distinctly lacking, or you just can’t tell what it is- so really I have two styles: Shit. And Shitter.

The painting was copied from this photograph from my A-level:

Flower

My version:

flower painting

As you can see my version is, well, crap and definitely falls under the ‘shitter’ category of my artwork. Plus side, I had a lot of fun painting it. I was fully relaxed and immersed for an entire Sunday afternoon – I not only managed to shut the world out, I blocked out my internal neurotic stressing and anxiety of life crap. This is quite a task.

So although painting is one point in the ‘bad procrastination’ column, in the ‘making life more enjoyable, semi-bearable, and less anxiety ridden’ column, I’d say a solid two points. This doesn’t change the fact it looks like an eight year old painted it (don’t be polite and claim it doesn’t, it absolutely does, maybe a little insulting eight year olds, lets make it a five year old), or remedy my lack of writing, but at least it benefitted my personal sanity.

….

I may have discovered why I don’t write very often, it seems I have a lot to say. Having moved onto activity two, I discovered another 1,500 words on the subject. So my procrastination journey is going to be a three-parter to accommodate my ramblings. I hope you enjoy! The next instalment will come soon.