On taking up crochet, one thing in particular starts happening very quickly:  an obsession with yarn.

I’m not sure how it is for others – maybe some people start trawling patterns first, and then make a shopping list of what they need.  But I seem to be always on some driven, never-ending hunt for colours, textures, fibres.  In the early days, I crocheted some snowflakes in different colours and weights, which led to a natural conclusion of what was and wasn’t snowflakey.  I didn’t even bother blocking this one.

And this improvised shape turned out to be… a wonky swatch of sorts.

Then I had to keep finding more suitable yarns for snowflakes, some worked better than others.

Finer weights

...or wool

and alternative cold colours.

It wasn’t that I got bored with snowflakes, but the new crochet spark ignited the next phase very quickly.  I now wanted to crochet in my favourite fibres:  hemp, cotton.  Maybe try flax or ramie.
Of course wool presented an array of possibilities and then there were acrylics with their vibrant colours.

Yarn could also be something I conjured myself, or re-purposed.

I love the idea of reclaimed yarn and yarn made from plastic bags – a great tutorial here.

With charity projects lining up, I got my hands on anything I could, often buying out stock in charity shops,  or finding forgotten balls of musty old yarn

And bringing home bags of frogged yarn (the old Grace Bros bag a find in itself!)

The next thing you know, you have yarn tumbling out of every crevice. 
The next job would be to think about storage and organisation.  So far, I am going to use old suitcases.  Here is the start of the cotton stash in a 60's beauty case.

These days I can completely relate to those who refer to ‘never having enough’ yarn.  And mind-boggled onlookers who say in disbelief “…but I thought you just bought some yarn.  Do you really need more?”  I know many of you out there know exactly what I’m talking about.

Learning on the job

My next project was to make fingerless gloves to go with the scarf.   Again, something I’d never done before.  I chose the versions of the easiest pattern I could find: a square of double crochet with a sewn up seam, leaving a gap for the thumbhole.

Hanana Banana, Ravelry

I finished the first glove easily and started the second on the go.  One evening I looked back at the pieces to see how it looked so far.  To my horror, they were completely different!  The second piece was an inch longer than the first.  How could this be?  They had the same number of stitches which I was sure to count and recount.

It dawned on me the importance of having two identical pieces.  Scarf – a couple of bumps easily knotted up and rectified.  I could not do this with a second glove.  And I couldn’t work out the error.

Learning crochet was so different to the way I did things.  For example in a drawing, adding line, correcting a curve with heavier intent changes the mark and flow on the paper.  I am free-form and love to take my feet off the pedals on the downhill.  Not this time!

I looked and looked, did and re-did.  What was happening?  Was I improvising stitches?  Maybe I wasn’t actually doing double crochet!  And worse, I really couldn’t remember what I’d done for sure on the finished one.  It was time to go back to the basics manual, three words at a time.

The first thing I realised was that I had hooked into single rather than double stitches, which resulted in very loose, more wobbly and of course, larger fabric.

Tension gauge.  I always ignored this instruction on patterns – it looked too hard.  And who could be bothered making a swatch!  (Although I have to say, I really do like swatches in themselves).  It also proved to me that what I thought was dc looked nothing like the swatch showing the stitch.

Eventually, I did get to finish my first pair of Jack & Jill Fingerless Gloves (the name appeared before me by itself – the lightbulb does exist)!  I took pleasure in decisions made about choice of yarn for wear and tear, warmth and comfort, and colours that could match different outfits, including the scarf.  I decided to make them in two colours and reversible where the dark side could be worn to hide grubby palms.  Alternatively, the light pink, acrylic side could also be worn on the palm side because it was hard-wearing.

I especially enjoyed 'finishing off' with a contrasting trim, a great idea from my 2nd pattern.
This was a very practical way to keep the edges from catching, looked nice, and was like a closing prayer.

I hope these gloves bring warmth to hands and heart.

Saved by colour

I was making the scarf for a women’s refuge which had requested items for women and children.  It was the only thing I could realistically attempt with the limited time and experience I had.
I had been saving some soft pure wool for something like this.  A rich navy blue, a hue that I really like.  (I wonder what colour your monitor will show..?)

I started with the quickest stitch I knew, treble crochet.  I’d finally mastered the turning stitch at the end of the row.  This was something I’d had to undo many times.  I must break that habit of ‘hope for the best’!
I pressed on, and thought to add some fancy to break up the colour, so added 2 rows of a grey-pink.  I had to frenzily crochet to get this done in time, so I blitzed back into the navy.  As the scarf grew, it occurred to me that it was looking more and more like a men’s scarf!  How I wished I knew how to do love hearts and flowers!

As much as I loved this colour, and would have worn it myself, I thought this women’s scarf had to look more feminine.  So I sorted through the charity stash and started adding purples and pinks.

This part of the making, the improvising, was very enjoyable.  The work was growing and evolving.  I still didn’t know how it would look finished.  I could even add a love heart if I got ahead of time.
I found myself daydreaming about what could be added – a granny square, a pattern or motif.  

So, this was the secret to enjoying colour!  Now I knew what people meant by ‘endless possibilities’. 
Then I got really lucky and the deadline for this donation got extended.  So onto the matching gloves…