Craft…defined as an activity involving a special skill at making things with your hands ( and mind, and heart, and vision, and dreams).
The 60s and 70s, when TVs were just entering homes, phones were a luxury and computers unheard of, learning a craft in the vacations was a win-win for the family. The holidays would fly past in the learning and perfecting the craft, and school days would finish with some time and attention to the project in hand.
Fast forward decades, and here am I, enjoying a life devoted to craft. But then, again, what is the craft which would be labelled “my favourite”?
Cross stitch embroidery saw me through my hectic young adult days. Marriage, parenting, divorce, long distance parenting—I have cross stitch pictures documenting each of these stages at home. Lovely pictures which remind me of the path I have traversed.
Its been a long time since I have completed anything in cross stitch, but a set of cushion covers, and a picture, wait patiently for completion.
Crochet is the meditative, mindful craft of life. One hook, one spool of thread and some regular finger hooking makes crochet peaceful. Crochet is forgiving—a forgotten stitch can be made, an extra line can be inserted, and its easy to rip it out, if things are not going as you want.
Large crochet projects are my favourite way to settle down in a new home, a long winter, use up yarn stash, and collect compliments galore.
My daughter has perfected the art of miniature crochet animals in amigurami. This is all about keeping the right count, focussing on neatness and size, and making the most beautiful little collectibles. I watch her sitting in her sunny corner, pattern and stitch counter beside her, totally focussed on a little bunch of stitches, and marvel at the way crochet gives so much to her day.
Knitting, inspite of having some exasperating issues, remains my favourite craft. I can knit and watch TV, read the newspapers, stare at birds and dogs, and have a heart to heart conversation, without looking at my knitting. On my last holiday, I could knit socks while watching a movie, and viola, no mistakes!
Knitting, however, needs two or five knitting needles ( which can get lost in trains and taxis), one needs to get the right gauge for the pattern, and its not as forgiving as crochet. Ripping out a mistake requires removing stitches from the needles and heartlessly descending down till the error. It needs a strong heart, and I have developed a tough strong heart, thanks to encouraging knitting blogs, that desire for perfection, and the team of obliging knitters who are learning from me.
The sewing machine is pulled out sometimes, patchwork quilts are looked at with longing, cookery books remain a challenge, and gardening is fraught with brown fingers, bumbling buffaloes and winter frost.
I will stay with knitting this winter, if Ms tennis elbow leaves me… If she doesn’t, I will have to cook up stories, weed out ghastly puns and spelling mistakes, and patch up words on my laptop into blog posts!