Day: July 13th, 2006

The Happy Hooker

Thursday, July 13th, 2006 | All Things, Classes

Started my “Crochet: An Exploration of the Basics” class at The Cooper Union this evening.

The class was held in the Engineering Building at 51 Astor Place. As could be expected, the group was made up entirely of women: ten in total, ranging in ages from their late 20s to their late 60s. During the obligatory introductions, I learned that eight of the ten women had prior knitting or crochet experience. Five minutes in, and already things did not bode well.

A little background: My mother is an expert knitter and crocheter. Growing up, we had a steady supply of beautiful, handmade sweaters, throws, bedspreads and pillow shams that seemed to bloom, as if by magic, off her rapidly clicking needles and hooks. Regrettably, these abilities do not appear to be heritable. Over the years, I had made a few feeble attempts to get knitting lessons from my mother, but each time, one or the other of us lost patience. So I never learned.

I signed up for the class with high hopes which quickly began to erode as it became obvious that I was going to be the student most in need of “extra attention.” As the instructor — a cheerful, and infinitely patient woman named Lisa — explained to the rest of class the mechanics of a starting chain stitch, nine heads bobbed silently in seeming immediate comprehension. Whuh? I stared at my new yarn and tried to figure out how to hold the crochet hook. Despite my best efforts, I dropped it — three times over the course of the class, each time sending a loud PING! reverberating off the walls of the otherwise hushed classroom. Why oh why did I have to buy a metal hook? As the others in the class moved on to placing their first row of crochet stitches, I struggled with not tangling my fingers in the loops of the alarmingly knotted yarn.

“Don’t worry: the first row is the hardest,” Lisa soothed.

Row? I stared helplessly at the jumble of wool in my hands that seemed decidedly more wad-like than row-like.

Lisa made her rounds, clucking encouragement and approval to my classmates. When my turn came, she stood behind my chair and fell into a contemplative silence.

“Oh… my. Well, let’s see what you’ve got here.” She delicately plucked the hook and yarn from me and held it up for closer inspection, turning it slowly to examine the entire lumpy mess from all angles, while the beginnings of a furrow formed over her brow. “Hmm. Well… this isn’t so bad,” she added. Unconvincingly.

“What do you do when you get to the end of a row?” someone called from across the room.

“Chain one up, turn and reverse the stitches,” she called back. To me, she murmured, “I’ll be right back,” with a reassuring (sympathetic?) pat on the shoulder. From the center of our crocheting circle, she held up her sample swatch and demonstrated the technique for all to see.

Within minutes, the cries of “Ah!”, “Look at that!”, “Cool!”, “Hey, I think I’m getting this!” filled the room. Even my fellow newbie seemed to be cruising along. Under my breath, I began to swear.

Lisa returned to my side. “Ahem. Okay, now. Don’t worry, we’ll get this,” she assured me, all business. “Let’s start over.” She handed me a pair of scissors.

While the rest of the class moved on to the double and then triple crochet stitches, I cut line and began anew. And two hours and forty-five minutes into the three hour class, I did get it. Sort of. My neck was stiff and my fingers ached, but I had something resembling crochet as I knew it:


Towards the end of class, Lisa talked us through a simple — hah! — pattern for granny squares to attempt at home. Looks like I’ve got some catching up to do before next Thursday night.

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