I Learned to Crochet When I Was 10
Thanks Mom! Learning to crochet was just the beginning of my lifelong foray into crafts that require needles. Big needles, pointy sharp quilting betweens, hooks, bamboo or steel needles, I need them in my world. My mom, who is also known as Dr Roberts, passed on her passion with needles to me. She is a higly-skilled seamstress, and she learned in Catholic boarding school, of all places. For much of my childhood she made my clothing on a burgundy and silver sewing machine from Montgomery Wards. I learned to sew on that machine as well. I was pregnant with my 2nd child, Zach, and we went out, bought patterns, and because of her great teaching skills, and my comfort with creating, I made a maternity outfit that day. I bet a couple hundred garments came from that machine. At some point, she began to put tags in my garments because none of my friends ever believed that she made my coat, she made my ball gown, that she made my velvet knickers and the satin clutch that perfectly matched my outfit.
A few months back, needing a new project to inject a bit of creativity into my world, I decided to crochet myself a bag to hold my yarns. Because of the years and the familiarity of my fingers with needles and hooks, I picked up some new wools by Debbie Stoller and cranked out this bag in a day or two. I realized just how lucky I was to have the inspiration when I was young. Train up a child in the way he should go….if you know any Hebrew, you’ll know that that type of training means to guide a child in the way he’s naturally bent. And when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs, 22:6, KJV. And I’m 42, a mom of 7, and I still see that I have hundreds of stitches yet to learn, many sweaters, quilts and dolls are yet to come from my needles.
My mom, Romaine, as she’s also known, crocheted when I was young. I vividly remember the green and ecru baby doll blanket she made for me. One day I saw her pick up the hook, and I hadn’t even known that she could do that! Somehow, through the magic of genes and osmosis, I began to crochet. She didn’t teach me, per se, I just kind of caught it from her. She also has done, and whatever needlework my mom does, it is done with perfection, macrame, knitting and needlepoint. Her needlepoint is worthy of any museum display. My children have their stockings needlepointed with Santas so detailed, you’d think he’d just hop off the mantle….the stockings are lined with poi de soie, and back with ultra suede. What a joy it is to fill these dynamic stockings with candies and treats on Christmas Eve.
In the last couple years, I decided to become a ‘real’ knitter like my mom, not just one who makes patternless scarfs and hats, but I want to make any item I see so I needed to delve a bit deeper into the knitting world. (*note – you can join Eliza-Jane and me on Thursday nights at Borders Books in White Flint to knit w/my Meet-Up group and at The Yarn Spot in Wheaton) My mom is my inspiration to me to continue to make my work “handmade” versus looking homemade. This is what she always told me. “Take the extra time to block your work,” she would say, “you spent all that time making it, make sure it looks great!” “Iron those seams” and “Install that zipper properly”. My mom’s work is always impeccable and the example I needed to inspire me on to greatness.
And my mom is the reason my 5 girls can all do something with needles. It is my rule and requirement that these girls acquire skills and make projects in several disciplines. Some of them may never sew or knit or crochet perpetually like my mom and me, but learning these skills are the perfect learning mechanism to train one’s hands and brain to accomplish anything. Learning to knit socks will join my girls with women and men of the past who never imagined a walmart with zillions of choices of knitted objects. A genuine satisfaction comes from the knowledge that most folks today can’t even begin to know a knit stitch from a purl, much less realize that the fibers their garments are made from originated from either an animal, a worm or a factory. Because of my mom, my 11 yr old, Eliza-Jane, sees a shawl in the store window of H&M in the mall yesterday and immediately imagined what size needles were used to obtain that gauge, are there in any ‘yarn-overs’ in the pattern….she sees herself not only knitting that garment, but spinning the fibers first. My mom sat Eliza-Jane down when she was 8 and guided her little hands to understand the basics of knitting.
Mom, you rock.