It was my first crochet summer - the mid-80s, small-town Mississippi, front porch swing, swatting mosquitoes while trying to make granny squares. I can see it now – the red, white, and blue acrylic yarn, worn thin from the unraveling and reworking until I got it right. My grandmother sitting in her chair across from me, gospel music coming from her hand-held cassette player. She taught me that summer, proud to finally have a grandchild take an interest in her craft. It felt good to make her proud. It felt even better to see something come to life, to create, using my own two hands. That was the foundation for me, not just for crochet but for a lifetime journey with a variety of arts and crafts, which ultimately led me to become an art therapist. Even today, over thirty years later, I still feel a connection with my grandmother when I crochet, a connection with older traditions and skills passed down over generations. It’s a connection that is both simple and complex, delicate and strong, like a crochet piece itself, one that’s never quite finished, growing and expanding as I pass it from my hands to those of my own daughters, this crochet summer.
While working as an art therapist, I started attending Squam Art Workshops each summer to further cultivate my own creativity. One of the first classes I took was Collage Crochet with Cal Patch, which reignited my interest in crochet. I also became impressed by how passionate a lot of the Squammies were about knitting, and after a few sessions at Squam I decided to take my first knitting classes: Norwegian Cuffs with Arne and Carlos and In the Company of Cables with Karen Templer. Learning to knit inspired me to experiment with making my crochet look more like knitting (see my hashtag #icantbelieveitsnotknitted). I enjoy having a challenging knitting project going on simultaneously with a crochet project because I like the contrast and change of pace. For me, knit and crochet skills compliment one another, so I think its safe to say I am in a mash-up “kni-chet” phase right now. My latest output of this phase is my “boxy tee” sweater.
This sweater was born in Karen Templer’s make-along, #fringeandfriendslogalong. It was my second make-along; the first one was #summerofbasics2017, and I enjoyed it so much that I had to join the log-along. I was inspired by a log cabin rag rug, made with a single yarn color, that I saw in Mason Dixon Knitting, The Curious Knitters’ Guide from 2006 and the construction of a Wool and the Gang, Dot Cotton Sweater I had recently made. I chose the back loop single crochet stitch because I love its textural dimension, and I thought it would really show off the vertical and horizontal arrangement that make up the log cabin style. I chose Scout yarn by Kelbourne Woolens because I thought the heathered quality would add even more dimension to the piece. This is the perfect crochet summer project because it is made up of eight panels which can easily be toted around on vacation or to the pool, and it only uses one stitch, freeing up your mind to reflect on your own creative journey. As I ponder mine, sitting here in the glorious Pittsburgh summer so far from the small Mississippi town where I first learned to crochet, the buzzing of my children playing in the background serves as the perfect soundtrack as I connect past to present.
Thank you so much, Karen, for sharing your story and your pattern with us! We'll be looking for Boxy Tees popping up this summer on Instagram and Ravelry, so be sure to share yours with the hashtag #crochetsummer2018.
Want a chance to win a Boxy Tee kit of your very own? Tell us YOUR crochet story in the comments! We'll choose one winner at random on Friday the 15th at 9 am EST, and announce the winner at the bottom of this post.