My husband thinks I have some kind of magic craft ability. I may agree with him, at least in terms of the yarn crafts.
Along with knitting and crocheting, I also happen to dabble in sewing and machine embroidery along with fleeting interests in other categories, but really, none of that is relevant here.
In my yarn crafts, I am mostly self-taught. I say mostly because videos helped me IMMENSELY and I have a few I highly recommend, but I've never had anyone stand over me and study my crafting for proper technique or anything like that. I just do, and it seems to work out. I'm sure there's plenty of time for criticism, though, as I've only just begun. I'm well aware that there are times where I just fake my way through things and hope for the best. Plus, I'm far from knowledgeable about every technique or stitch or any of that for anything.
My husband is actually the reason I started my pursuit of yarn crafting. He wasn't my husband at the time as we've only been married a few months now, but he was getting there, I suppose. It was actually he who first had the interest in learning to knit and crochet. I was still knee-deep in machine embroidery when he decided to buy some yarn and hooks and needles and what not one a trip to the fabric store with me. As I recall, he didn't make it very far with his attempt at knitting, which I believe can be blamed on trying to learn strictly from text -- no pictures or videos or anything -- but that's just my opinion. He was doing ok with crochet, doing a few rows of single crochet with a dark green yarn trying to work toward the first of many patches for an afghan whose pattern was written in the yarn wrapper. I actually don't believe he ever finished his square, but when I pulled his yarn out from hiding last week to possibly use for myself, he took it back.
Some time after he'd begun his attempts at learning, we found ourselves in Tupelo, MS at the largest Hancock Fabrics I've probably ever been in. We looked at everything, or at least I did, and somewhere in my admiration of all the fabric, he wandered over to the yarn. There wasn't much, but a lot of it was on sale. I decided that he needed a learning to knit book with pictures since he was having trouble with it, so I picked out one for 12 year old girls. He wasn't too keen on that simple because it as girls, but really, they don't make learning to knit books for 28 year old men! There were a few bins of eyelash yarn on sale for 99 cents a ball, so I decided what the heck, I could get a few balls and attempt to learn to knit with them.
Crazy, I know, to learn with eyelash yarn. Multiple strands twisted together loosely, with all that extra annoyance poking off, getting in the way, hiding the development of the stitches. Yet somehow, it seemed to work well for me. When we got home from the store that night, I used the book for 12 year old girls, some needles that the husband already had, and started trying to figure out what to do. I struggled some, asked a few questions about some things to see how I was doing, and managed to make a 1-skein eyelash yarn scarf on my first night. I'm sure it's not the best scarf in the world, wherever it happens to be now, but I made it. I finished it. I created something following techniques and movements and a craft that I never thought I'd desire to learn. The best part for me was that I learned how knits ad purls felt because I couldn't learn how they looked. In that one scarf, I learned to feel when I'd made a mistake. Plus, in the end, no one else could even see that I'd made any even when I knew they were there!
The next day, on our way to a Labor Day cookout, I declared we had to go by Walmart so that I could get some "normal" yarn to play with. Also, since I needed smaller needles than the 13s that hubby owned already, I bought one of those I Taught Myself to Knit kits and got a few extras that I didn't even understand at the time. I spent most of my time at the cookout playing with yarn, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wound up making a knit fish which I hear the hosts' cat simple adored. It just kind of ran away from me at that point, and I barely had time to look back.
Since the beginning, a whopping 17 months ago, I have made scarves, hats, sushi, strawberries, a fortune cookie, baby hats, baby mittens, headbands, fingerless gloves, Easter eggs, one pair of socks, scrubbies, dishcloths, bunny buddies, a complete stuffed doll with a dress, the first 3 feet of a 15ish foot long Dr Who scarf reproduction, and even a stuffed boob pillow! I discovered a love for knitting in the round early on, at least on DPNs, once I figured out how to do it correctly. Circular needles still kind of piss me off, though. I own enough acrylic and cotton yarn to fill 8 fabric square drawers sitting on a bookshelf. There are a few skeins on there that come from animals, but mostly a large batch of cheap stuff on the sidelines to meet whatever strikes my fancy.
Sadly, a few months ago, I started having issues with my left elbow while knitting, kind of like tennis elbow from what I can tell. Holding my knitting or really anything that involved keeping my arm bent for more than 3 seconds seemed to cause pain. When it first started, I figured it was related to the serious whack my elbow suffered after running in to one of those big metal display stands at Starbucks. A visit to the chiropractor, some time off knitting and a brace seemed to do the trick, and when things felt functional, I went back to knitting. I decided to finally brave the demon sweater that scared me so much. (I find large projects that have to be pieced together to be scary.) I started with the sleeves since they were smaller than the body pieces. I made it through one sleeve, barely, before I knew I needed an extended break. A week later, I made a few small things in the round -- an iPod holder and a coffee cup sleeve. The pain was sharp, but I worked through it, trying to do what I enjoy in spite of the pain. I'd stop periodically to rub my elbow and go back at it, but I was only making things worse. I tried to work on the second sleeve for the sweater, limiting my knitting to 30 minutes a day, but the pain persisted and I was bored!
I realized I needed to take a LONG break from knitting, much to my disappointment, but it was the only way to help. This brings us to about three weeks ago. Mid-Janurary is not a time for new television, my desktop computer was dysfunctional, and I had nothing to do with my time. I was reading a lot A LOT but that still left a lot of time to spare since I tried to let one book last a few days. Plus, the large hardback I was working on caused elbow issues from keeping my arm bent for so long! Oh, the frustration. It was then, as I sat staring at the laptop screen, that I decided to see if I could crochet.
A knitter friend of mine also crochets, and we had talked about a few patterns and things, none of which I understood, but with a knowledgeable friend, I figured I could ask questions if need be. I had a book on crochet that hubby had given me after he decided to set aside his yarn crafts plus a set of hooks that he'd picked up and a TON of yarn.
My first attempt created a square-ish (emphasis on ISH) thing which turned out to be entirely wrong. Ok, not entirely, but wrong enough to look deformed and deformed enough to look wrong.I was still proud of myself, though. I had made a blob, sure, but I had used a crochet hook to make it! I had no idea what I was doing, but I tried to follow the pictures in my book, and I was at least pulling through loops correctly enough to make a flat piece of something even if I wasn't pulling through the right part of the something to make my new loops! It turns out I was crocheting into the back loop on the row below rather than under both pieces, which I'm sure is useful occasionally, but trust me, if you only do that when trying to make a square, you will NOT get a square!!
Once search on YouTube, though, and I could see EVERYTHING! YouTube user tjw1963 is AMAZING. She has dozens of videos from simple beginnings to complete tutoriials on granny squares and puff stitches and things that I can't even list because I don't know enough and even left-handed videos! She also has several blogs with patterns and links to videos and instructions for so many different things that I know I won't be able to do for a long time. I spent most of that day at work watching how to single crochet and half-double crochet and double crochet and treble crochet and whatever else I could without the sound (work and all, you know) and by the time I got home that night, I had a pretty good understanding of what to do. I made a single crochet block followed by a half-double crochet half block (ran out of yarn!) and a double crochet block. I then made a sample piece where I stepped up a method every row -- SC row followed by HDC row then DC row then TC row then double treble and treble treble. With my patches of examples, I felt confident that I could actually make a real project, and within my first week, I started and completed a simple stretchable grocery bag. <3
In the last two weeks, I've learned to make crochet towel toppers (at the insistence of my friend Robyn), a pile of basic granny squares which may eventually be joined into an afghan should I compile enough, and the beginnings of a cute baby blanekt. My crocheting friend has made a few of the blankets, so I decided to give it a shot. I have a few expectant mothers due quite soon, so maybe I can finish it for one of them.
So that's my very not-so-brief yarn history minus a short attempt at yarn dyeing and making a few ball winding tools for myself which will probably come up again one day. It's a start, to say the least.