No one tells you about rolling your balls of yarn.
Like, there you are, in the craft store, admiring these beautiful skeins, only to be told you can’t use them until you fully unwind them and roll them into round balls that unspool cleanly, no knots or snarls or inconvenient yarn barf.
If you’re lucky enough to be shopping at a fancy yarn store, the kind and gentle clerk might offer to wind it for you. But it’ll cost you – the service is free, but the yarn is an order of magnitude more expensive.
The pattern is the next step. How intricate? How many color changes? What do you need to learn to make what you want, what’s going to be practical and beautiful and possible? Maybe it’s a single crochet potholder or a linen stitch afghan or a bean stitch baby blanket. Maybe you’re not sure. Maybe there is no plan and you’re making it up as you go along.
And then, one way or another, you start. A chain of slip stitches is simplest, but it’s fiddly and prone to twists. If you have the time and the knowledge, a foundation single or half-double crochet is more stable. But you do whatever makes sense, whatever you know how to do, whatever you have time for.
Crocheting is an all-consuming task. Sometimes meditative, sometimes grueling, sometimes complex in ways you never imagined. Inevitably, you’ll make mistakes. An extra increase or a dropped stitch. A twist where the yarn should have been flat, a sloppy joining, a stitch placed just slightly askew. It’s okay. Nothing is perfect. It isn’t meant to be.
Other times, though, there’s a problem with the foundation. Something went wrong and there’s no way to fix it. You have to frog it, there’s no other choice. Frogging – pulling out stitches and rewinding the yarn into their balls – is not something anyone sets out to do. It’s not the goal. But sometimes it’s necessary.
Sometimes a cat or a toddler gets into your project and messes it up. Sometimes life happens – family crisis, illness, abuse – and you’re not able to do what you thought you could. Sometimes an accident happens with a rainstorm or a spilled cup of coffee or a candle that gets knocked over. Frogging is what has to happen sometimes.
The biggest thing you end up with at the end of 9 months of crocheting is a giant blanket, or maybe a sore wrist. And yet. A crocheter would NEVER presume to know what a fellow crocheter should do with a project, whether they should frog or continue. They can give advice, sure. But they know that each crocheter is the expert on their own project, their own life. It’s complicated. There are choices and choices-that-aren’t-choices at a million steps along the way.
Why would anyone think the choice to create a human life were any less complex and filled with choices and choices-that-aren’t-choices than the decision to crochet an afghan?
Corinne Freedman Ellis is as a pastor in the United Church of Christ with a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and has recently served churches in Minnesota and Iowa and worked as a community organizer. She is a mother of two young children, ages 1 and almost 4.