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Crochet: The "Perfect" Hobby

crocheted aqua octopus
Meet Ollie the Octopus!

Crochet is the perfect hobby for a recovering perfectionist.

One of my goals for 2021 was to find a new hobby. I realized that I didn’t really have anything that I did solely for fun, and only for me. Looking back, I’m not sure I ever really did - if something wasn’t productive and useful, I didn’t see the value in it. But over the past year as I have learned more of who I am and realized the importance of taking time for myself and what serves me, I am craving something that I can spend time on that has no expectations or consequences.

I have found that in crochet.

Far from the serene image of a grandmother in a rocking chair working up a baby blanket, I have found crochet to be quite challenging.

By "challenging," I don’t necessarily mean difficult - although, as I progress into more complicated patterns, I’m sure I may reach that point as well - but more of a mental challenge.

I actually tried knitting first, but I got bored. There are pretty much only two stitches involved, and you do them over and over and over…

But crochet has several different types of stitches. And learning how to read a pattern is almost like learning a new language. And you can make SO many more things with crochet than I thought (I have fallen down the rabbit hole of amigurumi - crocheted stuffed animals - and I’m not sorry about it).

My favorite thing about crochet is something called “frogging.”

Frogging basically means to tear out rows that you just crocheted (“rip it, rip it”... get it?), which is a perfectionist’s dream.

Made a mistake? Rip it out and start over. Don’t like the color you chose? Rip it out and start over. Changed your mind entirely on a project when it’s almost done? Rip that sucker apart and start over! There is no such thing as failure, because you can always start over.

Crochet is undo-able art.

Now, if you were crocheting on a deadline, frogging may only enable your perfectionistic procrastination.

(My personal rule: unless I’m learning a brand-new pattern, I will frog something only twice before I say “fuck it” and move on!)

But I do this just for fun (for now) - sitting down with a project and working through a pattern is peaceful to me, and soothes my soul’s need for order and structure while still being creative. I’ve found that ripping something apart that I was only making for fun isn’t destructive to my self-compassion. It actually takes the pressure off of needing to be perfect, and it serves as a sort of “safe” way to practice not being automatically good at something on the first try (#perfectionistproblems).

And even when I’m making something for someone else and make a mistake, I can easily remind myself that the person receiving the gift isn’t an expert at crochet (it’s not like this is a super-common hobby in my age group!) and probably won’t even notice. And even if they do, this is the type of gift that comes from the heart, which tends to mean far more than perfection in the quality of the work.

I’m looking at all of you who still have the blankets that were handmade for you by your grandmothers - you haven’t kept those because they are the finest-quality blankets!

So if you’re a recovering perfectionist and enjoy being creative (with some structure), I encourage you to give crochet a try. If you do (or you already crochet), let me know - I’d love to nerd out with you about patterns and yarn sometime!

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