Thursday, June 2, 2011

Crocheted Out

I got kicked out of Scouts. The leader didn’t like my attitude. I didn’t particularly care for hers.
            No. That’s not the whole truth. As an nine-year-old, I worshipped her. Dreamed of being as stylish and poised as she was. Wanted her beauty and glamour to rub off on me. She wore a charm bracelet of multitudinous silver trinkets given her by former boyfriends. She herself was a charm.           
            I, on the other hand, had two left feet and a habit of opening my mouth and sticking both in at the same time.
            She kicked me out after two sewing projects—an apron and a handkerchief.
            My Mom and I purchased blood-red material and green thread for the apron. My favorite colors. Mom showed me how to use her treadle sewing machine. But remember those left feet? I peddled backward so the green-stitched hem ambled hither and yon.
            I thought it pretty nifty when I brandished it for the scout mistress. She curled her lip, cautiously picked it up between her thumb and index finger, and scrutinized it contemptuously. I felt for that apron.
            (I wore it every time Mom let me help cook. Which wasn’t often because I’d once set fire to the kitchen. Accidently of course.)
            The second project involved crocheting around a white handkerchief. I assiduously worked for a week. It felt like drudgery. When our troop met again, all the other scouts had already crocheted around all four sides. I’d managed only one. They went on to new projects. And merit badges.
            When the scout mistress examined my work, I said, “I like having just one side crocheted. It looks different.”
            “It looks unfinished,” she said dryly. “Keep crocheting.”
            I did. For one week. Two. Then a third. A whole month passed with me pulling out the thread and starting over again. The handkerchief got downright grimy. (Years later, when I read “A Tale of Two Cities,” I knew I could have been one of those women knitting by the guillotine. Only I’d be crocheting the history of hanky torture.)
            At the next meeting, I said I didn’t want to work on it any more.
            “You’ll work until it’s finished,” she ordered.
            “I can’t.”
            “You will,” she reiterated, baring her teeth.
            I saw myself trying to blow my nose on that crocheted hem.  It’d scratch.
            “I’m finished,” I announced. “I want to do something else.”
            “There’s nothing else for you until you finish this mangy handkerchief.”
            Of course part of the problem was that I wanted her to like me and I didn’t feel she did. I wasn’t pretty enough or witty enough or interesting enough for her. And I could feel my dream of being just like her collapsing.           
            “No,” I said, swallowing hard.
            “That’s it. I’ve had enough. You’re no longer in this scout troop.”
            The words stunned me.
            “But . . . ,” I protested.
            “But nothing,” she said. “Go home, you’ll never be a scout.”
            That marked the end of my scouting career. When the other girls went to troop meetings after school, I caught the early bus home, vowing that one day I'd conquer crocheting. Thus do we set goals!


  1. Who would have thought that that same little girl would crochet entire blankets that would be used by her nieces and great nieces?! I still love the ones my mom has that you made for her. I'm thinking I may just have to steal one of them next time I'm home to keep with me here in Springfield! :)

  2. Hi Dee,

    I'm new here. The title of this piece caught my eye as I am someone, who as adult, taught myself to crochet. I felt for that nine year old self you described. I had a similar experience. At the beginning of my ninth grade year my English teacher gave us a list of books to choose from to read and write a book report on. The time period was somewhat open ended. I chose Jane Eyre. I am a slow reader but live to read and have all my life. It took me three months to read that book. This teacher was not pleased at all. She told me never to read a book like that again. Did I listen to that teacher? No way! I have big bookcases full of all kinds of books. So glad to see from the other comment you didn’t listen either and now crochet.

  3. So, I have to ask...did you learn how to crochet?

    My grandmother and mother crocheted and I always loved the delicate lacy things they could make, but I could never get the hang of it. My little sister learned but though I tried and tried, like you, my fingers just never worked right. I could knit, but could never do that to size, either.

    Looking back, I wonder why she didn't sit down with you and spend more time teaching you how to crochet. ??

  4. I learned to crochet when I was pregnant with my first son because I wanted to make a blanket for my baby. I had no idea that there was actually a 'technique' involved in how you hold the wool and my method was, shall we say, rather ham-fisted! I took this work work everywhere and one day at the hairdresser's one of the girls watched me very carefully and thought perhaps I'd learned some new style for crocheting! It turned out she was quite experienced at the art of making 'American lace' and quickly showed me how easy it was once you got the technique right! The blanket turned out very well indeed. Like many others I was quite adept with a crochet needle, but I can't knit to save my life. It seems one is good at one or the other, but usually not both...