I picked up crochet from my dear late mum. She’s good with all sorts of handicrafts – crochet, lace making, embroidery, knitting, tailoring clothes and definitely cooking and dancing … she knew how to do the paso doble. She did say she went for all sorts of lessons. What I remember with fondness is her cooking. Hari Raya is not Hari Raya without a centerpiece for the table. We had a lion sitting majestically in the center of the table or a dozen eggs on green grass – all lovingly made from agar. When she’s bored with agar, she would have cakes with icing as her centerpiece and the table was always laden with traditional and modern cookies. And fresh flowers would always adorn her table – a tradition followed by my sisters and I until today.
My late mum took up crochet lessons but she used raffia. She made bags and hats and even sold them to friends and relatives. Her pieces were beautiful and she picked up patterns from a Japanese magazine known as So-en. I don’t see this title any more at magazine stands but my mum bought the magazine regularly and I loved leafing through them. Probably this could be the start of my interest in every thing Japanese. I use to sit beside her and watched her crocheting with raffia. Raffia is a natural fiber that is scrunched and it comes in balls of various colours. Before you use the raffia to crochet, you need to open it up so that the crocheted pieces looks good and the raffia is easier to crochet. I would do that for her. From her, I learnt to read crochet patterns and do basic stitches. Later on in my teenage years, I came across a crochet pattern for a triangular shawl made using wool. So my mum bought me wool in brown, blue and chilly red – the same colours as in the photo and I borrowed her crochet needle, I crocheted my first ever piece under her guidance. The shawl was made using granny squares and the squares were joined together to complete it and the last part was making the tassels. The shawl followed me every where and the last time I saw it, it was covering a TV set in my mum’s home.
I was staying alone in Ipoh in 1986 and was pregnant with my first daughter. I had too much time then I guess and so I picked up crochet again. This time I got a pattern for a tablecloth for a coffee table and two side tables from my mum’s collection of patterns. I used a chilly red cotton yarn and manage to complete the tablecloths before the birth of my daughter. I stopped crocheting.
Shortly after I retired on 28 May 2017, whilst I was clearing up my home, I came across my mum’s crochet needles. I went to look around for crochet patterns which I had photocopied from my mum’s collection but could not find them. Then I remembered that I threw them out when I moved house – a big mistake. I could not locate my mum’s collection of patterns and I guess they were either thrown out when my late dad sold their house – another big mistake cos’ it’s not easy to buy these books anymore. I also could not find my mum’s macrame books. So that was that. No point in crying over spilt milk.
With time on my hands now, I decided to crochet a blanket for my granddaughter as a keepsake when I’m no longer around. I searched on the Web for crochet patterns and recalled that the one I used previously is known as the granny square. It’s the easiest and prettiest pattern for a blanket. I went out looking for wool and decided to use synthetic wool – 60% acrylic, 30% milk fiber and 10% polyester. The completed blanket is soft but the yarn is expensive. That was my 1st project. My youngest then requested for a similar blanket and since her favourite colour is purple, I used three shades of purple yarn. The centre portion is made from remnants of my 1st project and it was my first attempt at crocheting a squircle granny square – 2nd project done and dusted. My 3rd project was a blanket for my eldest daughter and I decided to try my hands at crocheting a rectangle granny. The choice of peach and green was my daughter’s but I decided to insert a single grey row ever so often within the inner part of the blanket and completed it with off-white edging. Whilst doing the 2nd and 3rd projects, I am also doing my 4th project for myself using remnants or scrap yarn but the edging is messy and I need to figure this out. Hmmm … the colours did not turn out well in the photos but in reality, its much brighter than in the photos.
My bad habit here is that I tend to go crazy whenever I go to the handicraft store where there are yarns. When I was in Perth in August 2018, I bought quite a number of yarn balls since they were on offer (and its still unused). Towards the end of last year, I bought more yarn balls from my usual shop in Petaling Jaya. Thus, I’m now embarking on my 5th project with the latter – making a blanket with large granny squares and I might just have to abandon my 4th project if the problem with the uneven edging is not resolved.
If you are a newcomer to crochet, there are numerous websites and YouTube videos that one can refer to. My favourites are Bella Coco Crochet (https://bellacococrochet.com/) and The Spruce Crafts (https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/crochet-4162930). Bella Coco’s tutorials on Youtube are very easy to understand and follow. That’s the plus point of the Web … if you need a solution to your crochet problem you can always search for it on the Web or you can email the experts who are ever willing to share their skills with you … such is the way of the borderless world.
Please bear in mind that I don’t crochet all the time. When do I crochet? Whenever I feel like it and that’s not often and that is probably why my projects do take a long time to complete. I tend to crochet when I’m watching the telly. Why do I crochet? Probably ‘cos I never had the time to do it before … probably ‘cos I love looking at the end product … probably cos’ I’m exploring my creative side … probably ‘cos I just love doing it. I really don’t know the reason.