When I was in high school, my sister taught me to crochet. At the time, crocheting seemed like some sort of novelty that I would try for a while and eventually forget. Diane had taught me to crochet left handed because she couldn’t figure out how to demonstrate right-handed crocheting to me. At the time, I thought that it would be entertaining to crochet with my nondominant hand, and I was surprised by how easily I learned to crochet that way.
But, to use a pun intentionally, I was hooked by crocheting. Because I was very convinced that I was right hand dominant, I tried to crochet right handed, with little success. People suggested that I might actually be left handed, that someone in my early childhood might have forced me to switch hands. That was true for my father, but not for me. Eventually, someone explained to me that I actually do not have a dominant hand. In many activities, I will switch hands, almost to the point of randomness, without awareness that I am doing that. Except for crocheting and bowling. I’m not a very good bowler, but left-handed bowling isn’t happening for me. But I digress.
Since I learned to crochet, I have gone through many skeins of yarn, creating all sorts of objects. I have crocheted Halloween costumes, tote bags, pillows, hats, doilies, a table runner, water bottle holders, purses, backpacks, a soda can holder, scarves, a stuffed animal, and afghans of all sizes, and more. When I crochet afghans, I really love to make granny squares. There are many different patterns for granny squares, ranging from very simple to extremely complex. I like some challenge when I’m making a square but I don’t want to use a pattern that will cause my brain to break.
Sometimes, I make afghans with squares that do not match. With those afghans, the challenge is to piece the afghan together in such a way as to make it look good and colorful, as opposed to overly busy and clashing.
One of the afghans that I made a few years ago is something that I call the “modern art afghan.” The afghan was made of scraps of yarn that people gave to me. The scraps were leftovers from other people’s knitting or crocheting projects. They came in a variety of colors and textures and thicknesses. I chose a pattern that would incorporate three colors per square. And then, I set to work matching up colors so I would get an interesting effect. When I was finished with that afghan, I was really happy. My mother, who watched the process of my constructing the afghan, from small balls of yarn to the completed afghan, said that she loved it, that it looked like a work of art. I said that I thought that it was a bit abstract and looked like modern art. And so, that’s how the afghan got the name “modern art afghan.”
Some of my favorite afghans have been those that I haven’t kept. I gave one to a friend who was battling cancer. She said that she was very happy with the afghan, that it kept her warm when she was going through cancer treatments. Several years later, she said that it was time to pay it forward. So we went to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center to donate the afghan so that another person battling cancer could have the warmth and comfort of a colorful afghan. Since then, I donated yet another afghan to the cancer hospital.
On the day that I donated the second afghan, I went to the mailroom at the cancer hospital, where my sister works.
I got her to go with me to the room where I was going to donate the afghan. She took a picture of the afghan and me and then, she returned to work. Before I left the building, I went to the gift shop to look around. Just as I was leaving the gift shop, I heard a bell ringing. What a joyful sound that was! I knew that, when people are told that they are cancer free, they ring the bell. But this was my first occasion to actually hear that bell ring. It was sweeter than I expected. It was the sound of donated afghans, loving family and friends, hope, and life. At that moment, I knew that the afghan that I donated was more than just a blanket.