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December 25, 2011

From Pattern-Phobia to... a happy accident.

I'm a novice with crochet.  I can do the basic chains and double chains, and some fillet squares.  But I don't understand how to read patterns, or rather if I'm being honest,  I lack the attention span to count rows and chains and the like to follow a pattern.  Usually when I crochet, it's so I can basically turn my mind off, and let  the rhythm of repetitive hand movements de-stress me. It's my go-to craft for when I feel like creating something but lack the energy to tackle a larger project.  Last night I picked up a hook and a random ball of leftover yarn because I had one child asleep on the couch (she insisted she wasn't tired every time I suggested she go to her own bed, though she'd promptly fall back asleep on the couch) and a baby asleep in a bouncy seat right next to me.  And you know it's bad luck to try to move a sleeping baby.

So against the back drop of low light and a subtitled Israeli film playing in the background, I set about to quietly pass the time and keep me awake until my husband would get home a couple hours later (3am!!) and I could pass off the girls to "the night shift" and get my alloted paltry five hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I started crocheting in a circle, because I nearly always make squares.  And the circle got larger, and started to take on a hat-shape.  I thought, hey, why not try to make a baby hat?  After all this 'thing' that I seem to be making is starting to look like one.  Around and around I stitched, not paying significant attention to what I was doing and not having the slightest idea what I should be doing.  And yet, sure enough, a hat in perfect baby size emerged.

This morning, I tackled adding little ear flaps, again wholly without direction.  I "free-styled" ear flaps into existence, by making a length of chain stitches the approximate outline, double crocheting it to the rim of the hat and then "filling in" the open space, if that makes sense. If I had tried to read a pattern on how to do this properly, I probably would have had a WTF? moment and blew off the addition.

With ear flaps installed, I then realized I had a cute little hat in a shade of green that I wasn't particularly in love with.  It was just a random scrap ball I pulled out of the yarn drawer, and when I started, I didn't have a plan to make anything in specific, but now I had something in a color I wouldn't have picked if I had actually set about to make the hat.  Bummer.  Well, what to do about that ex post facto? I consulted my Tub o' Buttons for inspiration.  I found a little packet of felt buttons in assorted sizes in light spring green, teal, and red-violet.  Did I actually buy these?  Why??  No matter, there were enough to stick on here and there, they were lightweight, and they at least sort-of matched the green hat.

Off I went sewing them on-- a matching pair for each ear flap, a symmetrical pattern on the front. And then the gestalt of all these random unintentional decisions, 'happy accidents' if you will, I stepped back and realized, 'hey this thing is pretty cute now!' And even cuter on a sleeping baby. My husband said she looked like a little woodland gnome.


So patterns? I'm sure they work for most people.  But if a fear of patterns has kept you from trying actually make something specific (that wasn't a patchwork of squares) just try to go for it anyway.  You know what a hat looks like, right?  Shoot for that. Maybe it will work, maybe not, but starting is usually the biggest obstacle.

Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends, family, and readers!

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