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.


My Struggles with Health

So I sat down to write today  (we finally have internet in the new flat) and all I can think about is the long year I have had with my health. With my disability, I often feel like I am held back in a body that hinders me and lets me down. My brain is telling me I can do anything but I quite often get to something and realise I can’t.

A small example of this would be getting a hammer and nail ready, picking the point on the wall and then realising that I need two hands, one to hold the nail and the other to hammer…ahh duh! But that’s the story of my life and I take these hinderances in my stride, shrug it off, and laugh about the fact that there are just some things that I can’t do.

This year however has been a tough one with other health issues. I’ve barely make it a few months without something cropping up and smiting me down. Aside from various periods of RSI, some lasting months, other lasting a week or so, I had a series of kidney infections as well as bronchitis (that saw me go for emergency nebuliser treatment).

The most recent hiccup was simply a change in the weather aggravated my asthma for four days where I was permanently breathless and had to take a trip to a&e for another nebuliser treatment (two in one year after years of none), and a course of steroids (eek). It was a hairy week for me this week, apparently frequent and shallow breathes makes you incredibly dizzy and there was a few moments where I almost went down. Scary stuff.

I powered through and made it to work as I just couldn’t afford to miss anymore, and I’m sick of my body dictating my quality of life. The latest has baffled me the most. I’ve had asthma my whole life but I’ve never had attack quite so severe other than when I had bronchitis. The bronchitis made sense, there was crap in my lungs. This time round, I have no idea, all I can say is that I think I may be getting less resilient to stuff as I get older, which is utterly depressing.

So while this is a bit of a ‘poor me and my string of ailments’ post, there is something beneficial that comes from all this crap- the moment you feel better. It is easy to fall into a trap of daily life where you don’t get off your ass and do stuff because you can’t be bothered. When that is taken away from you, and then you get the freedom back, for me, I get hyper, pro-active and unbelievably happy. It’s a reminder to not become complacent in life, I’m 24, it’s the time to enjoy everything and achieve all that I can.

I think stress is probably quite a big factor in health, and I’m not the best at letting stress go, and it has been a tough year. Although my recent break-up has offered some relief, moving house, settling somewhere new with a new life has been an adjustment, on top of which, work has brought added stress. I’m still finding my way in the world, and generally it sucks being an adult. You don’t really believe your parents when they say it’s tough, I always thought my mother was being melodramatic. She wasn’t. On the the other hand, wouldn’t life be really dull if it was easy all the time?

Something for you to chew on.