These days at church, I work with the teenage girls and we have activities once weekly outside of Sunday.  A lot of what we do involve teaching skills and I've focused on some pretty modern-day useful things like budgeting, career planning, investigating colleges, etc.  But a few weeks back, a couple of them expressed an interest in learning to crochet.  I'm nothing if not inclusive, so I went out, bought a big bag of yarn and hooks for a big time stitch and bitch activity.* 

I learned to crochet years ago and haven't done it in ten or fifteen years at least, but I used to be pretty good at it.  So I figured I ought to brush up on my skills before I had to help teach others.  Holly Homemaker, I'm not.  I don't sew and crochet and the like for fun, but I do know how to do those things.  To me, it's not fun, really, it's just a means to an end.  Like when I wanted a wedding dress that didn't look like it came out of a pretty, pretty Barbie Princess box.  I walked into one store and the sales person asked me what I was looking for.  I said, "Just something classy and simple. No lace, no sequins, no beads, and NO BOWS ON MY ASS."

"Well, it was nice talking to you," she said, and walked away.

The lady at the fabric store was a bit more helpful and I hand made my entire wedding dress because there wasn't a single store in the Washington metro area that had what I wanted (or at least something I didn't actively hate).  Who would have known that when I taught myself to sew while the children napped during those boring babysitting afternoons at 16 years old that that skill would save me several thousand dollars and months of aggravation?

My point here is even though maybe crafty stuff isn't really your Thing, as it isn't my Thing, it is helpful to possess the knowledge so everyone should learn. You never know when it'll come in handy.

I figured I had the potholder/blanket skills down but it would be nice if I were to show up having actually made something recently.  Since it was pretty cold still, I thought I'd make something I could actually wear.  I have a metric ton of scarfs in the house; don't need another one of those. So I set about creating something... different.  It basically started out as a möbius strip that I was playing around with and I have decided to call it: a cowl. Enough to show up at our little activity and be at least familiar with the process again.

Then I went to Philadelphia and wore it while out and about in the chilly Philly night.**  It was incredibly warm and soft.  Love. 

While I was at the conference in Philly, I saw someone wearing one of those cool, slouchy berets, which I coveted.  Admittedly, not giving my full attention to the conference, I pulled up Etsy on my phone and did a quick search, only to find out that they were about $50.  That's when it occurred to me that I still had all that leftover yarn at home.  So when I got back I set about trying to reproduce a beret I liked.  The Dormouse was kind enough to model that for me in this camera phone photo.

The can of worms wasn't quite completely closed yet because The Dormouse sat watching me and said those seven dreaded words,

"Can you teach me to do that?"

My knee-jerk response was to say, "No.  Of course not.  You're much too young."

But for some reason, I clamped my teeth together and thought for a second.  I remembered that *I* was eight years old when I learned to crochet.  I learned from this woman, in fact:

Her name is Avis and that's her husband, Harold.  They weren't relatives of mine, but rather a retired couple who lived down the street from me when I was a kid.  They went to church with us and somehow adopted us as honorary grandchildren.  The photo above was them on their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary.  This is them in their first year of marriage.

I don't remember how or why it was determined that she teach me to crochet.  But I do remember gathering up bags full of yarn and traipsing off to her house to sit while she patiently taught me how to do different stitches and then watched my progress for hours.  It was quite the mitzvah.

They were both incredibly creative and talented people.  He painted and made all kinds of artwork from found objects in the desert.  I remember in particular he made these bird mobiles from the pods of the devil's claw plant.  (I really wish I had one of those now.)  She could make anything: knit, crochet, sew... and was never anything less than gracious about using those skills and passing that knowledge along to others.  They had a tiny chihuahua dog named Chiki that they both doted over.  We loved that dog like it was our own.

Both of them have long since left this world.  He died when I was still in junior high, I think.  She outlived him by several years and died sometime in the 90s.  Last I saw her, I think I was just home from a mission in South America and visited her in a nursing home where she'd been admitted after a stroke.  She was unable to speak and I think she remembered me but I'm not a hundred percent sure.  

I hadn't thought about them in a long time, but lately they have both permeated my mind as I taught The Dormouse the beginning stages of how to crochet.  She has taken to it quite handily and turned out to be a quick study.  Now each night before bed, she grabs her crochet bag and works her needle*** while The KingofHearts reads to her.  She asked what she should make and The KoH suggested we needed some trivets for the kitchen, so she's working through that idea.

While I check in on her, I've been unable to help reflecting on all the hours I spent in Avis' house while she watched me weave away on one project or another.  It occurs to me that the one sure fire way to secure your own immortality is to pass on your knowledge to others.

Avis would be so proud.

*probably best if we don't use those exact words for churchtime discussion
**sounds like a Bruce Hornsby song
***see? that's how much I don't crochet; it's called a hook