Mary is a college instructor, writer, mother and grandmother who learned to crochet from her own grandmother, something she remembers every time she looks at her favorite crochet hook sitting on her desk. When she holds it, it’s almost as though it speaks to her.
Mary says that she has few memories of her childhood but remembers well learning how to crochet at the age of seven. She shares,
“Grandma and I were sitting on the back stairs and she was crocheting one of those fine, delicate pieces – a doily or a tablecloth. She used fine twine and a narrow needle. She made tiny perfect stitches, but she could do this while carrying on a conversation, or just sitting close by. I asked her if someday she might teach me how to crochet. And she asked, “Why not right now?” I was thrilled to pieces!
Looking back, I suppose Grandma had looked forward to this day, to this event. She went inside, pulled open one of the drawers of her sturdy Singer Sewing Machine, and took out some things. She came back with a big crochet hook and some wool yarn. She taught me how to do a chain stitch, and soon a single crochet, double crochet, how to make a circle and then a rectangle … all by myself. The healing power of that time together lasted …. well, so far, a lifetime.”
Mary turned to crochet years later in the midst of a difficult transition. It was her mom that inspired her to do so. Her parents had come to visit her and her mom asked if she might like to crochet something. She had not used her crochet hook (or knitting needle for that matter) in a long time. She immediately decided to crochet an afghan for her own twin bed. She recalls,
In five days – five days!!! – I completed a very fine granny square afghan of many colors for my bed. Mom supplied me with yarn, a few skeins at a time, in my favorite hues – pink, purple, maroon, white … I worked so fast that my fingers looked like a blur as I stitched. When the crochet blanket was finished, I lay on my bed, covered up with the new creation, and enjoyed a peaceful nap – the first in a long time.
I kept the afghan for about ten years, taking it with me wherever I moved. One morning I woke up and realized that the healing was near enough to complete that I could pass on my work. I gave the cover one last wash and dry, then sent it on to the women’s shelter to be enjoyed by others.”
Mary has taught her own kids how to crochet. She has also taught friends and others in a knitting and crochet circle. She still does both crafts herself, still finding “comfort in the process, the rhythm, and the underlying sweet memory of my dear Grandma, who made all the difference to me”. Mary crochets alone as well as with a friend or in a group. She crafts in her living room, sometimes with music or the TV on and sometimes just in silence. She shares,
“I love creating something beautiful, colorful, with my own hands, and giving it to myself or someone I care about. I crochet all kinds of things. When the kids were little, I made clothes for them. I’ve made baby blankets, scarves, shawls and hats to donate. I’ve made many afghans.”
Mary says that she’s not sure that there’s any physical problem at all that can’t be helped at least a little bit by yarn work. She shares, “a few years ago I had sciatica so bad I had to lie on the sofa, leg elevated. Knitting rhythmically soothed me enough to fall asleep for short naps.
Mary’s emails always end with an inspirational quote that reflects her approach to life. Two she has shared that are worth passing on:
“May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.” John O’Donohue
“The two things that you are always free to do— despite your circumstances — are to be present and to be willing to love.” Jack Kornfield