by Julia Schwartz
edited by Justin Schwartz
“I want to be a professional bird watcher,” I thought. I was in the second grade and watching birds for a living seemed a fantastic possibility. Imagine the shock when I discovered that bird watching was not a paid job! Following that realization, I wanted to become a children’s author and illustrator. By the time I was in high school, people asked me, “What do you want to do?” I often replied by saying that I wanted to be a mother. At twenty-seven years old, I am currently enjoying that job as the mother of my two year old daughter.
Now, when people ask me “What do you do?” I tell them that I am a mom, but I also tell them that I am a crochet designer. For me, designing crochet is an exciting and fulfilling job. But, how did I get from pursuing bird watching to crochet design?
My first crochet lesson occurred the summer following my freshman year of college. I was home for the summer (so bored!) and thought that it would be great to have a dorm room that had coordinated colors. I was jealous of the other girls who had stylish and matching rooms! In one room the girls had matching green and pink bed comforters; everything else in the room was coordinated to those colors. My roommates and I (so I thought) desperately needed something to tie together what we had decorated the room with; what the room needed was a rug – and not just any rug, a rag rug. (No, really.)
My mom had recently acquired literally a whole room worth of fabric. I remembered that my Granny used to make rag rugs by crocheting strips of fabric together, so I asked my Mom if she would teach me how to crochet a rag rug. She agreed to teach me and I immediately selected the fabric I wanted and began the process of ripping it into long half inch strips. The first “speed bump” along the way was that my mom had forgotten how to connect the strips together, so we tied them together with knots.
At this point, you should know that I cry; I cry a lot, especially when I am frustrated. The first stitch that my Mom attempted to teach me was the double crochet. Keep in mind that I was using fabric strips and a size J hook (it’s big, but not when compared to the strips). As with many beginning crocheters, my tension was too tight in the stitch and the strips I was using were too wide for my hook. After of hour of this, tears were streaming down my face. My Mom suggested that we do something else.
Later that day I returned to the rug (such as it was). Slowly but stubbornly I finished the first round. At that point, I hit another “speed bump.” My Mom inspected my work and told me my problem was that since I was making an oval rug, I had to put two double crochet in each stitch along the curves. I cried again because I had to take out most of my stitches, which kept getting stuck in the process because we used knots to tie the fabric together. Again, I had to walk away from the project in frustration. Later I began again, and this time I intentionally put two double crochet is each stitch along the curves. I kept at it for a good amount of time – without showing my Mom the progress I was making – and slowly my rug started growing a giant fold. I decided that I was not supposed to continue adding two double crochet along the curve, but by then it was too late. I was not going to undo my work again! So I left it as it was and finished the rug.
To this day, the big “speed bump” is still in the rug; and yes, I proudly displayed it on the dorm room floor for the next two years.
Remembering my first crochet lesson leaves me amazed; since then I have progressed from being able to crochet projects at the beginner level all the way to expert. A hobby has become a passion and career dream, alongside being a mother. What was once frustrating became easy and I now make my own designs and teach others about crochet. For all of you beginners out there ready to throw in your hook, give it one more shot. Maybe this time it will click!
Note From the Author: The following is the correct way to connect fabric strips together.
1. Cut half inch vertical slits in to the ends of two strips of fabric.
2. Place one end of strip a. on top of the end of strip b. so that the slits are on top of each other. One will be facing the left and the other will be facing the right.
3. Take the other end of strip a. and pull it through both slits, starting with strip b.
4. Continue pulling till it is tight.
5. Repeat the process.
About the Author
Julia Schwartz is the wife of a seminary student, a mother of a two year old daughter, and a daughter of a long line of crafters. She has been sewing since she was five, cross stitching since she was ten, and picked up crocheting and knitting in college. She also enjoys cooking, card making, and painting, but her true love will always be crocheting. She especially loves taking old patterns and making them contemporary.
Article & images © Julia Schwartz. All rights reserved.