Grad school is a wonderful experience, but one that can make your brain spasm if you don't step back from it on a regular basis and engage in some activity that does not involve mental acrobatics and reading exhaustive and intensive journal articles about very specific topics that would render much of the population comatose. So, shortly after I began my PhD experience, I decided to put down the journals on occasion and pick up some knitting needles instead. My mom had taught me how to knit when I was younger, but unlike many crafts I have attempted, I never seemed to be able to quite get the hang of it. With help from a little pamphlet called "You can knit!" that I picked up at a local WalMart, I reminded myself of all those techniques that Mom had taught me years ago, and it all just clicked.
My ventures into knitting also revived my love of crochet, a needlecraft that I did manage to master (or at least engage in with some success) at a young age. A little over a year ago, I found a wonderful crocheted blanket pattern on the Lion Brand Yarn website -- pretty multicolored squares, with flower-like centers, and just enough laciness to be pretty without being too "girly." I bought myself giant piles of yarn and started crocheting...though it had been a little while since I had crocheted, so my squares turned out a little smaller than I intended (read: tension over the possibility of forgetting how to crochet = tighter yarn tension)! Still, the squares were lovely, the colors were delicious, and I was in heaven having something to occupy my mind apart from stone tools and statistics.
My sister-in-law saw the blanket, and being a fan of yummy multicolored crafty items herself, "oohed" and "aahed" over it. So, I put my blanket aside for the time being and decided to make one for her for Christmas. I returned to my own blanket after a little hiatus, and have finally finished it! It is so pretty, and so cozy....and I don't even care that the squares aren't all the same size (thanks to my decreased tension -- both emotional and yarn-based -- over the course of the blanket-making enterprise). It is my blanket -- I made it, I finished it, my fingers got all callousy in the process! In short, it is the product of a labor of love, and I do love it!
My husband also loves it. He likes to be cozy, and does venture to stick his toes under the edge while we're sitting on the couch together. I did, however, tell him that he was not allowed to commandeer the blanket for himself. This frustrated him greatly, which is why one morning we woke up and he said to me "I want you to teach me how to crochet." This is what I love about this man: he is willing to try anything. So, we had a crochet lesson, and being such a crafty, artistic, and clever person, he picked it up in a flash. He is now making his own blanket, and has begun to accumulate crochet tools of his very own! He seems to be thoroughly enjoying the hobby, already planning his next project, so I decided to help outfit his crochet kit for Valentine's Day. Below are some pics of the fancy-schmancy little case I made him! I reverse-engineered it from a similar project by goodkarma on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=30294888 -- many thanks for the inspiration!). It fits nicely into his bag that he takes with him to work, and he seems to like it, which makes me happy. (I think I need a point turner...)