Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

August 24, 2022
I can, I will: A lesson in doing hard things wrapped in a ball of yarn

When I was a little girl, my grandma tried to teach me how to crochet — key word “tried”. 

I remember sitting on the armrest of her chair as she slowly wove the hook in and out of the yarn demonstrating the correct technique as I hollered and waved my arms around, “Wait, grandma. I didn’t catch that. Go back and show me again”.

“Quit hollering, girl,” I remember my grandfather saying in the adjacent chair. “You’ve got to sit still and pay attention.”

The two things I was worst at: staying put and having an attention span.

After a while grandma handed me the hook and the lime green yarn. 

“You try now,” she said.

I took hold of the project and attempted to do what I had seen her do, but I couldn’t even get the first knot down, much less the initial first chain. I tried and tried, and we passed the hook and yarn back and forth until I gave up, frustrated.

I wanted so badly to be like my grandma and be able to create something beautiful from nothing but a ball of yarn, but I gave up hard. 

I gave up so hard in fact that my Christmas present that year was inspired by the crochet incident. I sat unwrapping the gift, expecting it to be a stuffed animal but it was a pillow which said “I can” on one side and “I will” on the other. 

When I looked back and forth from my grandma to grandpa confused, grandma told me the pillow was to remind me that I could do hard things and that I should remain positive, even when things are hard. She said patience was important too.

“Like crocheting,” she said.

Flash forward 13 years and my grandma has passed on. I’ve thought little of the incident but I do have a nice pillow to remind me to stay positive. It doesn’t always work, though.

A few months ago, my husband and I were visiting my mother-in-law who was, of course, crocheting a blanket.  I looked at her work and complimented it. It truly was beautiful but I have to admit, I was thankful I wasn’t the one holding the hook.

“Come over here and I’ll teach you,” she said, motioning for me to sit beside her. 

Bold of her to assume I don’t know how.

Immediately the great crochet incident of 2009 laid heavy on my mind. Oh no. I didn’t want to be anywhere near the project but I sat down by her as she attempted to show me how to do it myself. You don’t say “no” to my mother-in-law often. 

While she was showing me, I kept nodding, “Oh yes,” I said. “That makes sense.” And “Oh! That’s easy!” 

I’m glad she never asked me to demonstrate what I had learned, because I hadn’t learned anything at all, much less actually paid attention. I remembered that I couldn’t do it back then, so why would I be able to do it now?

When she was finished trying to show me what to do, she immediately began packing up some of her yarn and a new package of hooks she had sitting on her side table. 

“I’m going to send all of this home with you and you can make a blanket now,” she said.

It was like she was trying to torture me. I didn’t know what to do and accepted the giant bag of yarn awkwardly. When my mother-in-law gives you a gift, you don’t ask questions. You just say, “Thank you” and go with it.

Several weeks later, the night before we were planning to visit my mother-in-law again, my husband reminded me that she was going to ask if I had made anything with the yarn. If I didn’t have anything to show her, she was going to be disappointed. Lots of pressure to put on someone.

“You make something,” I said to him sarcastically.  

“Hmm, I think I will,” Christian replied without thinking. 

And he did.

A half hour later, with no fancy formal crochet training or anything, he had crocheted over five rows. I rolled my eyes at him. He was just showing off like usual.

“If I can do it, you can do it, babe,” he said, half encouraging me and half provoking me.

At that moment, I knew I couldn’t let him win. I couldn’t let him make a whole blanket while I had nothing to show, so me, being competitive, suddenly decided I was going to do whatever it took to learn to make a blanket and finish it before him. My opinion on crocheting changed that quickly.

I tried to watch a YouTube video explaining how to crochet and I, of course, became frustrated and angry. I finally humbled myself and asked my husband to show me, although it wasn’t easy. 

Learning actually wasn’t hard but it was hard to accept the fact that I was learning from none other than my husband.

Finally, I figured it out, or so I thought, and I excitedly and very cockily crocheted several rows to find out that the whole thing was twisted and unsavable. After a few choice words, I had to once again humble myself and restart with less fuzzy yarn. Lame.

During the process, Christian had to help me quite a few times and fix a lot of my mistakes, but I am proud to say I’ve made it to around 60 rows and guess what? I’m further on my blanket than he is on his. I even had something to show my mother-in-law. I know my grandma is jumping for joy in heaven too. My blanket might not be the best, but it’s something.

So, I guess I’ve come to the part of this piece where you are waiting for some advice or maybe you thought it was just a boring story about crocheting. Yawn. 

I guess it’s both; there is a point but it’s also just a silly story. My point is: if you want to learn to do something hard, push past your initial frustration and go for it, because you will have something to show for your effort when you are finished. Frustration really does make things more difficult than they actually are. I guess patience and positivity is important too.

I can. I will.


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