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Home : Community : Customer Gallery : Challenging My Sister: The Dormant Crochet Hook

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Challenging My Sister: The Dormant Crochet Hook
Created By: Irma Tijerina

Challenging My Sister: The Dormant Crochet Hook

Fifteen (15) years ago my sister-in-law, Dr. Nora Cantu, made an attempt to teach my mother-in-law and sister-in-laws how to knit and crochet. However, it was not my time to learn. I quickly found out that knitting and crocheting were not going to be a part of my life with a full-time job and children at home. So I discretely saved my needles in my closet for later and the out of sight picture came into effect immediately. I ventured into another area, sewing, and that kept me extremely occupied with costumes and all kinds of ideas and projects.

Three (3) years ago, I was preparing to retire after thirty-two (32) years of working. My vision of “retirement” was working on hobbies and crafts and lots of fun things I always wanted to do but never had the time. At this point in my life, I was an Administrative Secretary, a rancher, a locksmith, with 3 grown children (29, 21, 17 years of age); one married daughter and 2 grandchildren, a daughter in college, and a son in high school; a husband who is an administrator, an elderly mother, a large family of in-laws, and my university friends. Realistically, all of this should have been more than enough for me to be busy for the rest of eternity. But, I still felt I needed my personal time off for “my” things. After all, I wasn’t planning on going back to a job that was full of chronic stress.

Prior to my retirement, I took jewelry-making lessons and was really into that hobby. Eight (8) months prior to my retirement, my sister, Amy, (15 years my elder) whom I was very close to was diagnosed with a vicious breast cancer which required she have surgeries, chemo, radiation, followed by a series of pills which she is still taking. I took plenty of sick leave time off to be with my sister, Amy, through her surgeries, chemo, and radiation. Then, the time finally came when I retired. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to retire to spend as much time as I could with Amy for we didn’t know what the future had in store for us. I enrolled in a cake decorating class with Amy in tow. We finished our classes and made flowers between hauling hay to my ranch and assisting my husband with locksmithing. We picked up making bracelets and watches and what have you. I took a class to learn how to knot pearls, and then a cookie class and each time I managed to keep Amy challenged. Always, another hobby to keep us busy, as if we needed something else. Still, without a doubt, my dear sister kept thinking of what “if” in between hobbies. Evidently I wasn’t doing that great a job in keeping her mind busy enough. Then, finally, after so many years and two (2) grandchildren, I actually wanted to learn how to crochet. So, there I go again to take a class to learn how to crochet. My objective was to learn to crochet to make afghans for my grandchildren and considered myself an apprentice. At this point in time, I woke up a niche in my sister (she thought she had lost over 15 years ago) and she was able to visually crochet a beautiful apron from a sample.

Then, one day, my sister-in-law, Dr. Cantu, (who is a Principal) dropped off an afghan she had started making for my husband over fifteen (15) years ago while recuperating from a broken ankle. She gave me the incomplete afghan and yarn and challenged me to finish the afghan for my husband. I picked up the afghan and took it to my mother-in-law and having been over fifteen (15) years, it was difficult for her to remember how to make the stitches without consulting a book. She still managed to give me the basic concept of the ripple afghan and I returned home. I was determined to learn what appeared to be simple stitches and eventually unfolded the stitches in this particular pattern. Again, I picked up the afghan and took it to my sister-in-law to show her how I was crocheting and received her approval. Once I started it, I was on a roll and I purchased a book with crocheting stitches and when the occasion arose, I consulted my book. Finally the 15 year old afghan was complete and I was so proud of myself. It was so simple; I didn’t know what had taken me so long to acquire a new love with crocheting. I displayed my afghan to my in-laws and my sister (whom I considered pros at crocheting) and they were so impressed.

By that time, September was around and the days were cooler. It didn’t take me too long before I was at the store buying lots of yarn to make a rainbow-colored afghan for my husband and plans for another one for my grandson. My love for crocheting and what I could do with a skein of yarn must have radiated through me unto everyone I so proudly showed my afghan. Before I knew it, my mother-in-law (Bobbie), my sister-in-law (Dr. Cantu), and my sister (Amy) and I were all choosing our colors and started our afghans. My sister, and other family members woke their dormant crocheting skills and crochet hooks. Then, every time we had a chance, we would all sit down in the privacy of our homes and we would crochet before going to bed or for some, when they woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall asleep. Crocheting was excellent therapy for all of us. It helped us unwind from our day to day busy schedules with our homes, businesses, family, friends, and whatever came our way. After each of us completed two afghans this fall, I came up with idea that we should make scarves. We quickly initiated a trend for scarves and before we knew, we had each crochet over 15 scarves for our family members and close friends. Our family members were excited to get their scarves, keep their necks warm, not to mention show them off to their friends. Then one of my daughters called me (she had just married during the summer and moved to the hill country where snow and ice were common everyday temperatures). She loved her scarf, but, she needed a beanie for her head. Store-bought hats were out of the question, she wanted a beanie to match her scarf. After searching the internet I found a pattern and was forced to learn to “read” directions on how to make one. Needless to say, my sister’s daughters and grandkids ALL wanted beanies with matching scarves. Moreover, every friend and family member that has seen us crocheting has been encourage to look for their old crocheting hooks and start a long-forgotten art they had to rekindle.

Just when we thought we were winding down on our crocheting skills, my sister-in-law calls me one day and tells me to buy my yarn for the Navajo Indian afghan I had been wanting to learn how to crochet. Now for me, next to everything I had already crocheted, this particular afghan was the challenge of the year. Three (3) of us convened and with patterns from the internet, and afghans they had crocheted over 15 years ago, they recalled the crocheting stitches and lo and behold, we had what we considered our ‘year-long’ afghan since it is basically single crochet with double crochet stitches to form the triangles. Now for this afghan we had to really concentrate and count in order for the pattern to fall in place. Amy and I had had so much fun crocheting this afghan. We had to actually concentrate and count, otherwise we had to undo our stitches and correct our mistakes. Three of us have finally finished our Navajo Indian afghan. We’re taking a break right now and there is no telling what spring and summer crocheting projects are waiting for us to challenge each other.

My mother-in-law keeps thanking me for inspiring her to crochet. Crocheting afghans not only kept her warm during the winter months, but keeps her from thinking about her illnesses. She keeps telling me that crocheting has been the “best therapy” she has ever appreciated. And, as a result, we have a finished product to enjoy. Crocheting is an art of unwinding after a long tedious stressful day at school for my sister-in-law. As for my sister, Amy, she has no idea what hit her after I retired because I make sure she has no time to think about what “if” as a result of her breast cancer. For as long as I can, my sister will be busy. Like her daughters tease her, pretty soon the whole house is going to be made of crochet items. There are plenty of new simple projects in store for us for the summer months, i.e., aprons, envelope purses, doll blankets (for our grandchildren), and whatever else comes we decide to undertake. Crocheting is a part of my life now and for as long as I can, my quest to learn will not be quenched.

Irma Tijerina

Edinburg, Texas 78539

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