Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Because of Angela

I learned to crochet because I met a girl called Angela when I was eight.

It was 1980 and we lived in Tasmania. A new girl came to school, called Angela, and she was different. I remember thinking she was quiet and smart and seemed a bit 'proper'. Not posh or aloof, but she spoke and wrote well and played the violin. We quickly became friends.

One day, she brought to school something she was making. I don't know why, perhaps it was for show and tell, but when I asked her what the colourful, woolly thing was, she told me it was crochet and she showed me how she did it. I wanted to learn. I wanted to know what it was she was doing and soon after, she invited me over to her house for lessons.

Her house was different. We lived in Rosebery, a small mining town on the north west coast of Tasmania where the mine workers lived in standard, small identical homes. As a building, her small rectangle shaped house was the same as mine, but inside, it was a bit different.

No TV. No radio. Just a big table piled with books and art materials. Angela had three sisters. They were all busy doing their activities. One of them was practicing the cello. I'd never seen such a thing. Around the lounge room were other musical instruments. They seemed, to my eight year old eyes, a very clever, different sort of family.

Her mother taught me to crochet. I think I only had one, maybe two lessons because soon after, we moved away, back to the mainland, to the sunny south coast of New South Wales.

We took the ocean liner, The Empress of Australia, back to the mainland and once I got over the seasickness, I spent the overnight trip practicing my crochet. I knew the basic stitches but not much more.

By the time we arrived in Melbourne at my Great Aunty Win's house, and I showed her what I'd made, her severely cataract afflicted eyes saw at once I needed help and we spent the duration of our stay fine tuning my skills as a solid, beginning crocheter.

Twenty-nine years later (Oh God, I can't believe it's almost thirty years since I learned!) I still dabble in crochet once in a while. Knitting is my love these days but crochet remains a firm friend. So last night, I began to make something I've been eyeing off for quite a while.

The Chevron Lace Cardigan. In Bendigo Woollen Mills' lovely new wool, Luxury. Colour, Oceanic.

Chevron Lace Cardigan

I'm told it's fast. Everyone on Ravelry who's made it says so. And my Crochet-Along buddy, George, is finding the same thing. Nice and easy.

Chevron Lace Cardigan - close

It's virtually impossible for me to pick up a hook and not think back to the rainy, bleak days of life on Tasmania's west coast and my little friend Angela, with her over achieving sisters and her mother who taught me simple granny square construction. And Aunty Win, who could barely see but had the patience to help me get it right. I reckon she'd be happy to know that I'm still doing it, all these years later.

I look forward to having a new cardigan to wear in next to no time, if the stories people tell on Ravelry are true.


ps February Lady Sweater is blocked and will be posted over the weekend. Love her!