Of all the crocheters I’ve met since I first took up a hook, Julia might be the most talented. She seems to know every stitch, every motif, and the details of every popular pattern on ravelry. She does knit as well. Just not often. I’ve caught her out with needles a time or two. But crochet is where her passion is. That’s why we in the Roving Crafters circle have taken to calling her Old Crazy Hooks.
I’m fond of her. I admire her work. But there is no denying that she’s a little bit crazy.
Back when I hadn’t known her for very long, I noticed that every week at craft night she worked on a different project. They were all interesting and pretty and they were all inching their way to completion. And there were a lot of them. I asked her how many WIPs she had.
“Oh, about 120. Or so.”
That can’t be true I thought. I pasted on a polite smile and said something like “Wow, gee whiz” but on the inside I was thinking “She’s pulling your leg, Jenn. No one has 120 WIPs.”
No one except for Old Crazy Hooks. Cuz she really does. Or did. These days she assures me that she’s hovering at 50 or so. That’s a big improvement.
Julia doesn’t see anything wrong or embarrassing about this. (Did I mention that she is also kind of fearless? She is. She shaved her head for her fiftieth birthday as a way to mark the occasion. That’s pretty brave.) What happens is she’ll start a pattern “just to see how it goes”. Once she has worked enough and understands “how it goes” then she decides whether or not to finish it. It turns out that many of her WIPs are really UFOs (unfinished objects) and will someday, probably, get ripped back and made into something else. When she starts a pattern, she’s just trying it out. There is no commitment involved.
I.Love.That.About.Her. We should all be this way. Be the boss of our own yarn! Just because we’ve started a project doesn’t mean that we have to a) actually finish it or b) apologize when we don’t actually finish it. I learned that from Julia.
So what does it take for a pattern to pass muster for Old Crazy Hooks? It took me awhile to figure that out. Some of her favorite patterns are very intricate, hard, and time consuming. When she’s working on one of those, is usually when she turns up at craft night with the entire design charted by hand on page after page of graph paper. No really. She does that. Other times she gets hooked (ha ha, hooked! get it?) on a simple motif and works it over and over until it’s out of her system.
Recently I told her that I wanted to feature her and her work on my blog. This led to those old, boring questions like “how did you first learn to knit/crochet?” Julia learned knitting from her mom who was pretty strict about how to make stitches and what knitting was worth one’s time. She learned crochet from her Grandma who was much more flexible, fun and encouraging. Julia attributes her preference for crochet over knitting to these attitudes she experienced in her formative years.
“Plus,” Old Crazy Hooks added, “crochet is like a computer language so that might have something to do with it.”
A computer language? For her, a crochet patterns are a series of instructions, logic-based instructions, which take you through a process from beginning to end. Huh. I had never, ever thought of it like that.
What (little) I know of computer programming has taught me that efficiency and elegance is prized. The more efficient a piece of computer code is, the better it is and the better it performs. She’s judging crochet patterns the same way. She tries a pattern out and if the design takes a tortured route or requires the crafter to make an educated guess to achieve a certain motif, she drops it like a hot potato. Simple or complicated; easy or hard, Old Crazy Hooks is looking for elegance in design.
Julia tells me that she has blown off every opportunity down the years to teach crochet classes. She’s not interested. All of her would-have-been students might lament that decision.
“But what about design? Have you ever thought of coming up with your own patterns?” I asked.
“Oh sure. I have books filled with stuff I’ve designed.”
(I bet you a zillion dollars they are written out by hand on graph paper.)
“Are you going to publish them some day?”
“Maybe. Sure. Some day.”
I for one would love to see what she has designed. I’m sure it’s very… elegant.