Long post warning: I have at least four knitting and crochet heroes because I couldn't settle on just one!
Views of Others
Today's challenge is to write about a knitter or crocheter you admire, and it really is a challenge because there are so many!
Starting with my mother who was an exquisite knitter with amazingly even-tensioned and perfect stitches: she never used the term 'block' and I never saw her pinning out her pieces to shape. She just knit them and put them together and they were perfect. She could follow any pattern put in front of her, no matter how complex and that was her special skill. I think I have inherited her determination. The garments she made continue to be staples in my wardrobe.
A lovely lady called Val runs the crochet group at my local church. She has been crocheting for decades and I haven't yet found anything that she doesn't know about. I admire her for her enthusiasm, reliability, generosity and tenacity. Week in, week out, she is there, running the crochet group and this has been going on for years and years. Every week she unloads her boxes and bags full of patterns just in case someone needs inspiration, and every week she loads them up again to take home. She has family in Japan so she will often bring back beautiful Japanese pattern books from her overseas visits and will generously share them with the group. A very caring and patient teacher, I admire Val for all of her wonderful qualities and she is one of the people to which I dedicate this blog as you can read at the bottom of each page.
I admire Adrienne who is also mentioned in this blog's dedication and other posts. She is kind, clever, enthusiastic and full of energy, confident and not afraid to try new things. Her encouragement helped me to start Lupey Loops and she helps me to recognise my strengths and abilities at a time when my confidence has taken a beating by illness and circumstance. To get to know Adrienne, some links are available in the post "Geocrochet". (http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/geocrochet.html)
Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence amazes me. Her blog is so comprehensive and that in itself is a wonder - how she finds the time and energy to collate so many things. I don't know how she does it and that's just the blog! She is also writing her own publications as well as for others and is somehow managing a study load. I love how she turns her passion for crochet and health into positive action.
Monica Rodriguez Fuertes, the designer of the Fab Four Amigurumi and so much more, is one of my heroes. First of all, she and her mother Loly create the most intricately crafted items. I admire them for their patience (they must have heaps as amigurumi can be very fiddly and frustrating) and their ingenuity for cute characters. It is obvious that they have many craft skills as well as business skills. Monica will often create both knit and crochet versions of her designs. There is the skill of pattern writing as well as managing her Etsy enterprises. I have written a full profile of Monica in a previous post which contains links to her websites etc. (http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/fab-four-designer-profile-monica.html).
Mostly, I admire Monica's ability to manage all of these activites and yet she remains down-to-earth and in touch with her audience. She is very active in crochet forums and readily available to her fans and customers whenever they have a query. It is very easy to write a pattern and sell it, but the active support that she provides with kindness and warmth is refreshing, most appreciated and not to be taken for granted.
Views of Oneself
This task is to think about what others have told me about their feelings towards my crochet. Have I delighted in strangers telling me about their knitting and crochet experiences or withstood someone telling me that crocheting is for grannies?
Yes, indeed - I have enjoyed many conversations with strangers about crochet, knitting and crafts in general. Usually they happen while waiting in medical rooms. It is a lovely ice-breaker, giving a focus for a conversation and helping the time pass. When I meet another crafter it is an opportunity to learn new things and gain a different perspective. I do enjoy meeting people and finding out what makes them tick. The responses of others are fascinating; e.g. I use a lot of stitch markers while working my projects and it is amazing how many people will look at the work in progress and assume that 'those dangly bits' will be part of the finished product!
This is an opportunity to politely educate others and promote my craft. I like to think that my public crochet has contributed to the rising popularity of crochet.
It is interesting to compare crochet's image when I first began back in 2005 (not that long ago) to what it has become in 2014.
Back in 2005, the only other people I knew who crocheted were older ladies and retirees. Nowadays there are vibrant, enthusiastic groups of younger people, both women and men who get together in the evenings after work and study, to enjoy the benefits of crochet.
In 2005 I was often teased that 'only grannies crochet' or 'you're turning into a granny'. I know I didn't help my cause at the time - I was looking like a granny! During the winter sports season, there I would be, sitting on the sidelines, in my wheelchair, rugged up with a blanket over my legs (let's face it, when you are outdoors, not moving much and suffering poor circulation, staying warm is a priority) and often with a cardigan or shawl over my shoulders, fingerless mitts and beanie, crocheting away to keep my hands moving and being productive while supporting the children.
At the same time, I was promoting crochet, modelling some of the beautiful work a crochet hook can make, and sharing the love. It wasn't long before the younger brother of a player arrived with a ball of wool and a simple knit project while his mother said, "You can sit next to Jodie and she can help you!" I enjoyed the camaraderie with my young friend. I love the way crochet transcends barriers like age and disability.
My church crochet group was praising me for my 'courage' to learn so many new techniques and complete projects that other members considered too challenging. ('Courage' is in inverted commas because I don't feel it is a courageous thing to do - more like blind enthusiasm where I would leap before looking!)
I didn't realise that my skills were being recognised and appreciated until I found myself at a barbecue with new people. During introductions, a new friend exclaimed with a burst of recognition, "Oooohhh! You're 'The Crochet Lady'!"
It seems my reputation had preceded me and I was imbued with the familiarity of old friends. I felt humbled to know that my skills are valued (not dismissed as worthless 'women's work') yet proud at the same time because I have worked very hard to learn as much as possible and to strive for excellence in my crochet. It was very satisfying to be complimented in this way.
My View of Crochet
I love crochet for its endless possibilities, wide variety of techniques and its social and health benefits. No matter how much I have learned or crocheted, there will always be still more to learn and achieve - new techniques, new materials, new designs. One lifetime is way too short to do everything there is to do in crochet, but it's a challenge I'm willing to take on!