Last year, out of the blue, I received an invitation from Dedri Uys of Look at What I Made to be a tester for a crochet pattern she designed, “Charlotte’s Universe,” a square blanket. You may ask, “Why is that significant?” – Oh, but it was! I had never tested “crochet-anything” before, and my crochet skills at the time – while acceptable – certainly did not seem sufficient to me to be invited to do such a thing. While still overwhelmed by the idea, I realized I had to take a fresh look from a different perspective: if I am being asked, it is because I can. It was an indirect form of encouragement.
The invitation came when I had been crocheting more and more to prove that I could use my hands despite tendon and nerve compression issues. Counter-intuitive, you say? Perhaps. Stubbornness and never wanting to give up will do that; it may not be medically advisable, but do not ever argue with that pesky and irreverent whisper reminding you that you are human and everlasting (the latter so perfectly and fatefully flawed). As the curiosity (and enthusiasm) grew in me, I gathered up hooks, yarn, and notions and went to work – not without trepidation. As it would turn out, I fretted needlessly.
The pattern was well written, though the lack of pictures initially flustered me. Then again, that is what testing means, right? I went full speed ahead, working on it eagerly, taking notes as I went, stopping now and again to jot down measurements and time spent on each part. And, section by section, I smiled and chastised myself for being unsure about my ability to succeed. I felt like a capricious child, revisiting memories of getting homework done when I thought that teachers were the wickedest beings on earth for giving it or building sandcastles and drawing things that resembled what my mind conjured.
The pattern testing led to being part of the crochet-a-long (aka CAL – defined as an event connecting many people coming together to crochet one project simultaneously) that followed and was held in the Facebook group created for that purpose. I was asked if I would be interested in moderating the group alongside several ladies who would offer their time and expertise to anyone needing help. I readily agreed, not wanting the testing experience to end (and because I am naturally inclined to lend a helping hand, no matter how inflexible said hand can be). I learned many things, enjoyed the jolliness, and found an unanticipated, refreshed self-confidence.
I dedicated my version of the blanket to my best friend Ceci (who passed away several years ago, losing her brave fight with cancer) and named it “Space for Grace” in her honor. As crochet can be seen as a craft conducive to meditation, quiet and rhythmic, this project invited my heart along a journey of remembrance and celebration that I had put on hold for a while, emotionally stifled by the pain her passing brought. Our friendship spanned laughter to sorrow, peace to disquiet, doubt to conviction, mistakes to solutions, dismays to comfort, and aversion to reconciliation, to name a few juxtapositions, much like crocheting. As I stitched along, it felt like a natural parallel analogy, an unforeseen closure, and brilliant commemoration. I will never disremember what this first-time testing experience prompted, how it unfolded, and the profound, unthinkable, and radical after-effects it has had since. It reminds me of Brené Brown’s words, “Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.”