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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Lessons from Crocheting

Come December, I find myself mulling and brooding. Where did the year fly past, what have I to show for it, blah, blah, blah...end-of-the-year regrets!
And how do I deal with it? By engaging myself in frenetic activity, yeah, kind of like the last lunge to the finish-line, to make up for time lost!
Are you wondering what this post is all about? Crochet I said, so its got to be about that! 
Crocheting is one of the activities I engaged in my year-end frenzy.

Fret not, in case you are anticipating a granny-ish sermon on the different kinds of crochet yarns and stitches or how to make your own crochet tea-cozy! I am leagues away from delivering such masterly sessions, sighh!
Instead I am going to share my insights on the lessons I learned from crocheting!

I accede, it is an unlikely occupation to inspire one with life-lessons but hey, life's like that!

( I am compelled to add this line here after the overwhelming responses commending me on my crocheting skills. This is honestly not a post advertising my non-existent skills on crochet, rather a light take on deriving life-lessons from the unlikeliest of sources!)

So here goes,
1) Time flies faster than you'd like to believe.
I always imagined roly-poly old English grannies in dainty, floral frocks spending afternoons with their cronies sipping Earl Grey, munching scones and busily crocheting balls of soft wool into fluffy blankets and sometimes dainty frocks for the grandchildren. 
And whaddya know, here I was poring over Youtube videos of DIY crochet for Beginners, out of the blue! I surprised myself and the family when I came back home from the market one evening with a crochet needle and a wool-ball and declared I was going to learn a new skill. The ill-suppressed, knowing looks from the family didn't dampen this eager beaver. But it did make me wonder, I had never harbored the slightest inclination towards crocheting or knitting ever, so why now? No idea, but maybe an inkling of times to come? Sighh - another sign of ageing! But aren't old people wiser? So yes, I am on the path to wisdom; so stop smirking, you young pipsqueaks!

2) Things are not as easy as they seem.
I spent considerable time viewing, re-viewing the crochet videos and I wrestled, tangled and untangled my yarn quite a few times before I got a few decent rows of single-stitch crochet.
Encouraged, I moved onto something called Granny squares. Now, here I would like to inform my lesser crochet-enlightened friends that there is nothing remotely easy about this easy-sounding handiwork. I unraveled the yarn so many times that it now resembled Maggi noodles. Anyway, I persisted and progressed, from a single to a double and finally to a four-colored granny square! 
Pah! Granny squares! Call it Pythagoras squares and won't you look at it with more respect? All I can say is those grannies had quite a few tricks up their sleeve! I also learned that there are warring factions in the crochet world, following the tenets of either the British, American and probably Australian crochet standards. 

3) You are your best motivator.
From granny squares, I progressed to double-stitch crochet. Yeah folks, I was on a roll! I decided I was going to make it big in the world of crochet, what with the recent success of the Granny squares behind me. Sadly, I noted that even the double-crochet was enlisted under beginner tutorials.
And what do you think? This prodigy managed to crack that level too! I know, too cool, ain't I ?! I was simply unstoppable!

4) To Detox and become Zen-like you don't need a guru.
The success with double-crochet hurled me on a path I had never traveled - Crocheting my own scarf/muffler. Hitherto uncharted waters were to be explored and I ventured on this adventure suitably armed with two brand new wool-balls and a recommended size of crochet needle, all ordered online. Yes, they have different needles for different yarn thickness, a revelation to me. 
My research showed me I would have to crochet a 7 inch-thick by 70 inch-long scarf if it was to serve its purpose. Equipped with all the knowledge and requisite paraphernalia, I marched forth. 
I went on and on, back and forth relentlessly. I couldn't think or do anything else. 
TV, Laptop, Mobile, Cooking, Cleaning and everything else seemed pointless when I had such a daunting goal ahead. This is when I realized what single-minded focus is! My mind kept wandering to various topics (quite similar to meditation, don't you think?), but soon returned to the loops and yarns. Gradually, I stepped into a harmonious rhythm with the needle and yarn, mind blank to all but these two - the most Zen-like I have ever felt, detoxed from social media and other distracting elements.
I am in fact seriously contemplating sending suggestions to jail authorities, strongly recommending training prisoners on long-term sentences to learn crocheting. Gainful employment of time, increased patience and developing a zen-like attitude are good takeaways, don't you think?

5) Appreciating other people's labor of love.
I don't like to be condescending, but I'll admit that in my immature past, I have been rather disparaging whenever I saw folk adorning their door thresholds with colorful, crocheted woolen 'torans', place-mats in fluorescent hues for telephones, sofa-backs and more. But having walked the enlightened path myself, my esteem for these works of art has grown manifold. Now, whenever I see such beauts, I pause a bit, scrunch my eyes to discern the intricate pattern and silently applaud its creator. Like one is attuned to catching sight of babies everywhere when one is expecting, similarly my senses are now attuned to be drawn to crochet creations everywhere!

6) Accepting your flaws and moving on.
Ahem, like I was telling you earlier, my biggest crochet project to date, the woolen scarf had taken off spectacularly. After tirelessly working on it all day, I stretched my aching back to dig out the measuring tape. I spread out my masterpiece on the floor. It measured 13 inches long. Not bad, just 57 inches more to go. But one thing bothered me. I had started out with a 7 inch thick scarf that had widened to 10 inches in portions and narrowed to 5 inches in the next. Being a perfectionist at heart, I took offense to such disproportionate goings-on. With a cold heart, I mercilessly unraveled the whole 13 inches of back-breaking work.
Next day, I was back at it again. At night, the work was again laid out for measurement. 14 inches long, I was getting better, but sadly the thickness fluctuated just the same.
The perfectionist at heart be damned, said the mind and I went ahead with the work. In just a week's time I was done with the whole 70 inches, width wise it was totally skewed, but I'd like to think of it as an undulating or zig-zag pattern. And who cares how it looks once its wrapped all around the head and neck, I argued to myself.  
So here, I proudly present to you my own labor of love - my crochet, woolen scarf
If someone dares mention its flaws, I have no issues, after all thedha he par mera he! (Its crooked but its mine!)
Aha! There we are, a nice wrap it is! I exhort all you fellow busy bees to swarm towards the hottest new trend in de-stressing, detoxing techniques - follow the Crochet mode. Remember it's the hobby that kept your old Grandma's grey cells way more active than possible in today's times!
Do share with me your memories and tips, tricks and anything on crochet, grandmas and more, would love to relax and rave ;)

I would like to share that in the process of learning this new craft I came across this wonderful site that has all the supplies and more you need to embark on such projects.

Check out: Pony Craft Store 


­­Copyright © 2016 KALA RAVI

Saturday, 24 December 2016

#UnWrapChristmas-The Spirit of Gifting

Christmas time!! Yayy!! I await this festival with unabated joy and enthusiasm. 
Whew, so much plotting, planning and shopping to do! 
I've been playing Santa to my kids for ages. They obviously know now who their Santa is but that doesn't diminish the glee with which they pounce on the surprise gifts piled under the tree on Christmas morning. 

They've stopped writing letters to Santa citing their wish-lists. How this Santa misses those scrawls of secret wishes! Innocent and earnest pleas convincing Santa that they've been good all through the year!

What makes this festival so special to me I wonder, especially considering I am not a Christian or a church-goer! 

Thanks dear Anamika for passing on the #UnWrapChristmas baton to me. 
This post gives me a chance to introspect on what Christmas means to me and why I love it so much.

Much of the Christmas fever I have inherited from being schooled in convents. Hymns, choirs and carols sung all through my childhood school Christmases still remain etched in memory. However, we never celebrated it at home.

When I had my own family and my kids were old enough to understand celebrations and gifts, I decided to live out my childhood fantasy of having my own Christmas celebration, a small one, nothing fancy. 

I remember the first time, I visited local shops and purchased a scrawny artificial tree, some Christmas ornaments and streamers to deck the tree. Once the tree and the lights were up, I was jumping for joy, maybe more than the kids! I had carefully scoured the markets for Christmas presents suitable for the kids and yet something they never expected! My little angels hung up their stockings and kept a glass of milk and a dish of cookies for Santa. And lo behold! The next morning the glass and dish were empty, the stockings stuffed! 
The ecstasy on their tiny faces has prompted this Santa on for years!

And thus started my love affair with this wondrous festival.  
As the years have passed, our collection of Christmas ornaments has gone up and we've even managed to upscale the tree to a less scrawny one. The first sight of the Christmas tree decked and lighted up still thrills me! Gifts-wise, it's getting harder to surprise the kids but still I try!

So is my Christmas an excuse to deck up the house, practice my art and craft skills and indulge in retail therapy? Well, partly yes and why not! Its such a lovely way to spend one's time and it has such fulfilling results! And I've always been a fan of all things pretty!

The other part is the spirit of gifting. I always ensure my gifts aren't too expensive, but really relevant to the child's needs and at the same time they will be those gifts with a dash of childish fantasy. Like on one Christmas I gifted my girl a nail-art set; pretty inexpensive but the delight on her face when she opened it was priceless. Or the time I gifted my impish son a bottle of 'play-slime' that only little boys can love. The youngster couldn't have been happier if Santa had gifted him a remote operated robot!

Every year, I try to widen the spirit of gifting by including some under-privileged person in my gifting list. Small tokens of love show you care and go miles in spreading happiness in the lives of those deprived of little joys. 
You could do your bit to brighten the smiles of some under-priviledged children by contributing to a charitable institution called DIVYA DISHA 

Nothing can rival the sight of surprise and unmitigated delight on someone's face on receiving a gift, and this I believe dear folks is the biggest draw Christmas has for me!
So you see, my Christmas is not the traditional one, it's kind of like a customized one, catering to my requirements and abilities. It's nothing big or fancy; it's just a small celebration that lights up my life and those around me.
This festive season I beckon you all to enjoy the fervor and share the merriment with your loved ones. Do try spreading some warmth, cheer and kindness to people less fortunate. The rewards, I guarantee will be bountiful and blessed!

To all you lovely folks out there, here's

Also linking this post to @Blogchatter's Wednesday Prompt: Gifts

I now invite Apoorva Kapoor to carry forth the spirit of Christmas.

You can read posts by other bloggers linking up on the #UnWrapChristmas flash blogging event.


Copyright © 2016 KALA RAVI