From the Blog

Misshapen Crochet Projects As A Weak Ass Metaphor For Life In General

I’ve been working on a crochet blanket for a couple of years.

Wait, wait, before you leave, this isn’t just a post about a crochet blanket. There’s some deep fricken insight coming up.

Right. So, as with many big crochet projects, I started and stopped a couple times before I settled on a pattern and a rhythm that I could stick with. I’m not opposed to ripping out hours of work if I’m not happy with how a project is coming out. I’m not that great at crochet. I know three or four basic stitches and I’m pretty okay at making square and rectangular things. So, like, scarves and blankets and stuff.

A few years ago, I started making this blanket that I thought would go on our bed. So it had to be vaguely bed-shaped. So like, five feet wide. Which for me, is super fricken big. It’s a lot of yarn. It’s a lot of time. I got some pastel blue, green and off white and did stripes. Muted Cascadia colors. Each row took about fifteen minutes. Each stripe was three rows wide, then I switched colors. So I can see how much time I have spent working on this blanket by counting the rows.

It’s been a long, long time. I wasn’t working on this blanket “steadily.” It’s sort of a super rainy day, extra back burner project. I have a few dozen various projects going at any given time, and the blanket was LOW priority. I liked working on it, but it didn’t feel productive and it felt like it was never, ever going to end.

So the blanket has been half finished for over two years. The last time I picked it up, it had 24 stripes. That means 72 rows. At 15 minutes each, that means 18 hours, not counting the initial stops and do-overs that may have occurred in the beginning.

I picked up the blanket the other day and worked on a few rows. I unfolded it and stretched it out to see how much further I had to go. It was about three feet of stripes, which is what, a bit less than half the size of a queen bed? Sooo much further to go. It was disheartening. I checked the length and, um, huh. I had a problem.

With crochet, you don’t really count stitches. Or at least I don’t. Maybe you’re supposed to. For me, at least, it might take away some of the relaxation and enjoyment, since I’d actually have to concentrate and pay attention to what I was doing. And who wants to do that?

One side of the blanket looked “okay,” more or less a straight line. I could see some places where I may have added a stitch or missed a stitch, resulting in a wider or narrower stripe.

But the other side. The other side looked like a noodle. It was wide in the beginning, when I first started building rows. Then it shrank and shrank until it was a full six inches shorter. It had a curvy edge. Like a noodle.

Goddamnit. It wasn’t just a “little” mistake. It was hours and hours of mistake. It was me just missing an extra stitch over and over, continually shrinking the width. I just kept going and going.

And here’s the total bullshit part: I never noticed. Or I never thought to open up the blanket and examine my work up to that point, before I invested more time in it. I was paying attention to the colors, the individual stitches, the tension of the yarn. I wasn’t paying attention to the end part, where I flipped it around and started a new row.

I worked on this for hours and hours and hours. Over the course of years. And I never stopped to check if the final product was coming out okay. I just stayed on task and never questioned that I was working on a mistake.

And, boom, there’s your metaphor for life in general. See? I told you it was in there.

Haven’t we all done this at one point or another? A crap job? A not-so-great relationship? You just kept your head down, and focused on the details, and hoped the larger picture would sort itself out? Ever work at a career for years and years, and wake up one day to realize you’ve been climbing the wrong ladder? Or treading in the wrong pool? Or swimming with the wrong sharks? I can write crap metaphors all day, folks.

When I finally opened up the blanket and looked at, I had a slow, sinking sense of disappointment. How did I not notice how fucked up it was? How did I go all that time and not think to check? In this case, there was really no way to fix it. At least not with my amateur crochet skills. And I suppose I could live with the blanket being misshapen. But, um, no, I couldn’t. I couldn’t look at it every day and see that wayward edge and remember the hours of wasted time.

The good thing, if there is a good thing in this whole experience, is that I’m willing to rip it all apart and start over. I will rip out all those stitches, all those rows, all those hours, and start from the beginning. I will do it again and again until I’m happy with it. I’d rather get it right than live with that big mistake.

But just to hedge my bets, I might take up knitting.



  1. This clearly illustrates why I have a hard time undertaking huge projects. Knitting just might be your thing when it comes to blankets, less yarn too! Thanks for the very deep thought this morning.

  2. I like the colors!

  3. Aunty Laurie says

    I love the colors, and your a Brave Woman for putting this out there!!!

  4. Hey it looks like the map of Oregon, that’s not even either. I’d just fold over the end to make it look even or make a pillow cover. It looks plenty big for that. :)

  5. So true, and so deep. I kinda feel that way about my career, which I stuck with for 25 years until retiring this August. If I had it all to do over again, I would have changed directions a long, long time ago. It’s astonishing how fast the years can fly by if you keep your head in the sand and focus on minutia rather than what really matters. Fortunately, messing up a crocheted blanket isn’t as big a deal as choosing the wrong career and staying in it for 25 years. Good luck in your redo!

  6. Why don’t you just trim off the longer part of the noodle and finish the edges? That way you won’t have to rip it out and start over. I call that a taking a shortcut or the easy way out–I’m sure there’s a life metaphor there. Good luck.

  7. There’s nothing like a metaphor with a side of sarcasm. Well done!

  8. Fold it diagonally, and you have a warm, hand made shawl. If the stitches were evenly placed, it would look machined –cheap. The imperfections add character; “it adds” is a common phrase around here. Just keep going, maybe add fringe.

  9. fringe hides a multitude of sins. what you did, i think, is forget to add in your “chain one” at the end before flipping that sucker over and beginning the next row. if you forget each time, what you end up with a a steadily decreasing blanket. I know cuz i’ve done it, sistah!!
    if you don’t like counting stitches, knitting is not for you. that’s my understanding, you have to count stitches til your eyeballs fall out.
    how about kitty blankies? i make them the size of a dish towel and take them to the local animal shelter. the kitties get something soft and made with love to warm their cages and snuggle up with, and the shelter sends the blankies home with the kitties when they are adopted. creates all kinds a good feelings.

  10. I totally thought you were going to explain how you were now going to crochet a blanket the shape of Oregon… =)

    I’m mending my great-grandmother’s quilt by hand. Slowly. I figure if I pay myself $10/hr, by the time I’m done it’ll be worth my retirement ;)

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