Skip to content

My first crochet project, a poncho made up of 32 granny squares, was aspirational to say the least. I was somewhere below twelve years old, and my mother was skeptical that I would complete the project. Still, she let me pick out three colors I was convinced would keep my attention, and I walked out of the shop with a brown paper shopping bag full of old-fashioned loaves of wool.

It was an extravagance. I don’t remember the actual colors I chose (though I faintly remember a fall-ish palette), but I know it was wool, because my mother was a believer in natural fiber. At the time I found her obsession with things sourced from the earth really annoying. Acrylic and Orlon were big in both the attire and the footwear worn by my peers. And that wool, I’m sure, was not soft.

We bought our yarn at the same shop where we bought needlepoint canvases and the fabric my mother used to sew capes and dresses for herself. The shop was owned by a Russian woman named Jean. I don’t remember there being any kind of sign on the outside of the shop; the only shop window was covered. In other words, the lighting was terrible.

Still, we went. “Let’s go to Jean’s,” I would say whenever I yearned for something new. Even then I found inspiration in fiber. We never went anywhere else to buy our yarn.

Why Crochet?

I crochet for many of the same reasons that I knit. Lovely texture and color pass through my hands over and over and over again. The repetitive motion lulls me into a meditative state. I relax. I’m making something! Crocheting is better than brooding over, well, anything really.

Some of my reasons are unique to crochet. The granny square, for example, allows for all sorts of color and shape combinations. It provides endless variations of stitches and spaces creating either an airy and colorful patchwork, or a packed, solid shape.

Airy and colorful: mohair crocheted into log cabin blocks. Magic!

You can use one color or change colors every round. A circle or star or heart can be composed alone, or framed by a square. And if something you thought would look great looks awful, you can easily and quickly adjust.

A granny square is complete, in and of itself. When you crochet granny squares, you finish what you’re doing over and over again, in a relatively short amount of time. It’s extremely satisfying.

Complete, in and of itself. (But you can also keep going.)

As a child, I wasn’t allowed to watch commercial television (along with not being allowed soda, Pop Tarts, and processed cheese). What this meant was that while either of my parents was in the house, I had to be doing something other than watching commercial television or eating processed foods. This resulted in both a voracious appetite for all things written, preferably a good book series, and all forms of creation.

When I was five, someone gave my friends and me some yarn. I imagine that it was one of our mothers handing it to us as we walked out the door. My world was both small and large, with most of my needs able to be met within a four-block radius. All my friends lived on my block. We sat at the base of the narrow cement driveway between two of our homes happily looping the yarn around sticks we collected from surrounding trees.

I’ve got this need to create. The colors and textures I experience as I move through my day inspire my need to recreate the emotion they evoke. Every bit of fabric and fiber I touch inspires thoughts of what I could do with it. A mossy, crackling building façade soothes me with its combination of greens, grays and faded coral. The pleasing textures and colors, and the feelings inspired, become a loop in my head, as I try to imprint them for later use. I know that I will soon be trying to reproduce the effect in one medium or another.

Crochet is hands on. Literally. Your non-hook-holding hand is touching every stitch you make, often brushing the edge of the entire piece.

Crochet is forgiving. Can’t find a previous row’s stitch? Put the hook in the approximate place you feel the stitch belongs. Short a stitch? Just throw one in there. Corrections that would stick out in a knitted fabric pass unnoticed in crochet.

One day there was a fire at Jean’s. She reopened after several weeks to sell what was not directly burnt, a literal fire sale. Everything smelled of smoke. By this point I was old enough to walk the few blocks alone, but this last visit was made with my mother. I remember being excited at the prospect of yarn on sale, and then terribly let down to find that all the color was gone. I had a sense that a significant time in my life had ended. It wasn’t until I graduated from college that I entered another yarn store, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This one bright and cheery. But that’s a story for another time.

I have two daughters of my own now. They are old enough to drive to any store they choose. When they were younger, they happily accompanied me to yarn shops in every city we visited. They liked to wind the yarn when I worked at yarn shops. Seduced, like me, by the colors and textures before them, they would beg me to buy them yarn. When I questioned their commitment, they assured me that they would complete each project. I would be certain that they would not. But, I bought them yarn anyway. It seemed an important rite of creative passage.

Are you a knitter who crochets? A crocheter who knits? What was your bridge from one craft to the other?

Inquiring minds want to know, in a new topic in the Lounge. 

About The Author

Liz Kaplan has been using fiber and textiles to make things ever since she was a child and not allowed to watch television. (She has since made up the viewing hours lost.) Liz has worked behind the counter, taught knitting and crochet, and created special events at yarn shops on both coasts. Liz currently resides in Oakland, California. You can find out more about Liz and keep up with her class schedule at LKStitches.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • My grandmother taught me how to crochet, but my tension was so tight, everything came out like a cat toy. Then in my early 20’s I learned to knit, which surprisingly eased up my crocheting tension. Now I do both.

  • Hey Ann, if you still have any of that mohair, those crocheted mohair log cabins look pretty nifty!

    I crochet, as well, taught at age nine chain st and single crochet. Over the years, I taught myself everything else as soon as I was able to understand written directions (way before the internet). I usually crochet blankets, mostly granny square and pot holders, mostly single crochet. Sometimes, I crochet doilies, once a yarmulke of my own design. These crochet projects satisfy a love of mixing all kinds of colors. Knitting satisfys a desire to engage my hands toghther in that particular rhythm that I can only produce with knitting. I find that each craft is satisfying in its own way.

    • Ms Ann, I crochet and knit also. Everything from doilies to sweaters. I love both.

    • I quite agree! Knit-a-little, crochet-a-little. Repeat.

      • Your post explained my relationship with fiber and beads perfectly. No Jean, but a mama who taught me to knit and crochet before I could read patterns. I still knit and or crochet every day 60 plus years later.

  • I started knitting and crocheting basically at the same time, and I definitely love both. I find there are easier ‘fixes’ in crochet if you do make a mistake – crochet is more forgiving. Crochet was easier to me than knitting when it comes to making kids’ toys too, so I use it for that a lot. Ultimately, I knit far more often, as I tend to prefer the look of finished knit garments more than crochet garments, but I am so glad to do both. I do find that crochet tends to put more strain on my dominant crocheting hand – perhaps knitting, with two hands, balances out the stress on the hands? Still, I can’t imagine not having both options! This past year, I have finally started to pick up on some sewing too, so I feel I have hit a sweet crafting trifecta. 🙂

    • I find that crocheting at a table and leaning my elbows on the flat surface helps with the wrist issues. And, when I’m crocheting in bed, I lean on a pillow.

  • What a beautiful post. My mom taught me to knit when I was about 8 (I, too, always had a strong need to MAKE, and fiber had a particular draw for me). Knitting seemed so slow, though. And I was an impatient child. So I taught myself to crochet from one of those women’s magazines (Ladies Home Journal or something); there was a pattern to make small stuffed animals. I was in 4-H where I did both knitting and crocheting projects, and for a very long time, I crocheted much more than I knit. I am still charmed by the humble Granny Square — such a perfect thing! Magical . . . kind of like turning the heel of a sock.

    • I love making socks! I haven’t done it in a year, but I really should get back to it 🙂

  • Learned to knit when pregnant with first child. Learned to crochet when second child was about four months old, from one of a group of very creative crocheters.
    Love both knit and crochet. Seems I’m doing more knitting right now, but…..

  • I loved this piece!
    I am neither a crocheter nor a knitter, I’d rather call myself a crafter/maker. Because I love to make various things.

  • My grandmother taught me to both knit and crochet more than 50 years ago. My first FOs were crochet: a series of granny square mini skirts for me and my two sisters in some faboo 1960’s colors. Pink and purple. I was probably 9 or 10. They were followed by a series of autumnal colored granny square ponchos and some first holy communion white shawls. As I advanced in the knitting I grew to think of crochet as a lesser craft. A few years ago, a younger coworker taught herself to crochet and I was so inspired by her approach to design and making that I picked up the crochet needle again with all the joy I had so many years ago.

    • If I had been crocheting a mini skirt, I definitely would have finished the project!

  • Please can I know the name of the pattern for the crochet maze piece/stole/runner in the banner photos. Loved this post. (I’ll look on ravelry also)

    • Found it, thanks anyway ( in case anyone else is wondering.

      • Honestly, it was hard to pick which one of his patterns to crochet. One of the things I love about crochet is being able to go off road, but in the case of Steve Roussous the solid symmetry really pleases.

      • Thanks, Lisa, I WAS wondering!

        • I learned about the chain at 9 years old from an older cousin who crocheted a lot in the 1970’s. I didn’t appreciate fiber arts until I was 36 years old and depressed when I found out. Before the start of my senior year of college. I discovered that I had a brain tumor. I quit school and never returned. Before my surgery the women in my church started prayer shawl ministry. After many years of putting crochet out of my world. I started again as a beginner making a lot of tight wonky projects. I tried my first blanket the mile a minute Afghan I made for beloved Chihuahua Cha Cha. It’s been about 13 years since I picked up a crochet hook. Many hats, shawls, blankets, panchos and shrugs. Though I cannot bear to make or look at one more baby blanket. The tumor I had was on my pituitary gland and took all hope for children away. So it breaks my heart to make things for babies. About 8 years ago my Pastorette gave me a set of size 7 knitting needles. By now there is You Tube to learn how to knit. So I’ve been knitting ever since then probably more than crochet. I’ve made cowls, scarves galore, wristlets, a sweater, and socks using DPNs it was my hardest project. But I finished them! I love knitting.

  • My father taught me how to knit and crochet when i was 12. Oh 48 years ago. He told us that his sister was a pro at it and he watched her so often he figured it out. I learned quickly and did it for a year or 2 before i put it aside. I picked it back up about 10 years ago. I love it i crochet more then knit. To me it is relaxing and a wonderful feeling when i complete something especially the look at ones face when i give a piece as a gift. I feel it is appreciated.

  • My grandmother taught me the basic crochet stitches and as I grew older I would study other stitches. To me, it is theropudic , very relaxing and just have a great time crocheting. I never could knit. I can’t get the hang of it. I have so much stash yarn and love scrap patterns. Thank you grandma for teaching me.

  • I would love to learn to knit. I’ve tried it, but can’t seem to “get it.” I do crochet and now that I’m retired, I am taking time to learn more stitches. It is a wonderful feeling to finish projects. Right now I’m working on a pink, chevron stitch baby blanket for my great-granddaughter due this month.

    • Elodia, I am not sure if this will get to you, but if you really want to learn to knit this is what worked for me. I too crochet and couldn’t get it, but this video finally helped me to succeed; both myself and a friend of mine. It is the best way for people that already know how to crochet. Best of luck to you!

      • It’s 2020 and I discovered your shared link. It’s the clearest instruction I’ve seen. I’m a crocheter and the visual makes so much sense. Thank you so much!

  • I learned to crochet and knit when i was in 7th grade Homemaking class 45 years ago( those classes ended long ago) . I prefer crochet because it’s faster and more forgiving, but I like the softness and texture of knitting better. Crochet is harder on the hands. I had to switch to knitting after massive crocheting since it caused my left tension hand to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Either way, I enjoy sitting somewhere and being useful with my hands. Despite beginning osrlreoarthritis, I will continue to knit and crochet. Thanks for a nostalgic article.

  • I love to knit and crochet

  • Please tell me an easy way to get a skein of yarn into a ball. Some are so knotted I end up cutting them and throwing them away.

    • Some skeins are easier to start from the outside as the skein sometimes collapses on itself and tangles more if you start from the inside of the skein. I do love to untangle things though. I find it very relaxing.

  • Loved your story! My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 3-4 years old. Started to school and could not spell my own name but could read simple crochet directions such as those for a granny square. I am going to be 76 In a few days and still crochet everyday unless I am ill or catching up on house work! I prefer crochet to housework!! I also knit but crochet is my passion.

  • Amen to crochet over housework!! I had no crafting parents or grandparents. My first experience with yarn was at age 17 when a co-worker at the movie theater where I worked (for 75 cents an hour!) taught me needlepoint. In the next few years I picked up crochet from a how-to booklet bought at the local Woolworth department store along with the squeaky acrylic yarn that my meager budget allowed.

    I crocheted for years until I decided to teach myself to knit (from Debbie Stoller’s Stitch & Bitch book) at age 50. It took a week of sweating over that little garter stitch scarf to “get it.” Now there is not a day that passes that I don’t do one or the other and always have 3-4 projects of both knit and crochet on the needles/hooks at any given time.

    • It’s good to have choices! BTW, Debbie Stoller’s Happy Hooker is a great crochet resource.

  • I loved the story. Made me, feel like I went through time travel. The reason for my crocheting, I want to feel that my, grandmothers art of, making pillows, and doilies never fade. I noticed that none of the other granddaughters or daughters of my grandmother learned. I did. And I am happy that she showed me. I lost her a few years later and it was hard to say goodbye. But I knew with my crocheting it was as if grandma stayed with me, for a lifetime.

    • Thanks Pauline! You are right. Every created piece embodies memories and emotions. What a lovely way to remember your grandmother.

  • Whoooaaaa! I was in Oakland for 48 hours this past weekend (from New Orleans…long story) and snuck away long enough for a romp at A Verb For Keeping Warm….where I fell hard for the necklace pictured above! I took lots of photos and left with a skein of Habu, just to give it a try! Are you the person who crocheted those? I’m in love. Any hints? So weird to see this so soon…it’s like a secret message or something!

    • Hi Robin. Yes! I’m the crocheter of those necklaces at Verb. How great that you got to spend time there. Chain however many you want between circles. Some circles are 3 rounds: 12 DC, 24 DC, 36 DC some 2 rounds. Let us know how it goes!

  • I really enjoyed your story! Thank you! I learned to knit at the age of 9. My grandma lived with us so she was always there to help. I didn’t know you could buy socks, mittens, hats and scarves until I was probably a little older and started paying attention to what others were wearing! I taught myself to crochet just recently because there are some awesome patterns that are for crochet. ( I started with flip flop moccasins from make and do crew) Jess has a wonderful tutorial and that’s how I learned:) my 2nd reason was that my mother told me , as you get older you need to learn new things, challenge your brain so you stay sharp. I am still learning the different stitches and it sure is rewarding when I look at what I’ve done and it actually looks right!!! So here I am, wishing I could pull out my project and hunker down with my wool yarn but I am off to work so I can keep on buying my yarn!!!!!

  • Liz Kaplan, you’re not only a fantastic creator, you’re a gifted writer! Your parents did good! Their legacy will undoubtedly pass through you and spread to your children and those of us who are fortunate to cross your path. Thanks to the likewise talented creators at MDK for sharing you with us! My Saturday morning starts out with gratitude & inspiration.

  • I am a novice knitter–two years. My grandmother, however, taught me to crochet as a child, and I long to pick it up again because of that history and connection. But I worry I will lose ground getting skilled in knitting. I enjoyed this article. Maybe I can just do a granny square now and then …

  • My mother taught me how to crochet when i was young. I remember a granny square vest she made me out of navy blue,red and white
    My husband was the youngest of 5 boys ,so his mother taught him to knit and he in turn taught me.
    I love to do both crafts and each have their place in my creations.
    We have 4 kids and 9 grandchildren.lots of baby blankets have been made.
    I prefer to knit now but if I’m in a hurry crochet does the job.

  • My mother taught me how to crochet when I was 8 years old. I learned how to knit when I was in Girl Scouts. I remember my mom sent us to a lady in the neighborhood to teach us how to knit too. I embarrassed my mom at her Bridge parties because I didn’t pay the lady because she didn’t teach us anything new!
    I’ve been working with yarn ever since and have made so many baby blankets,hats and gifts for others that I’ve lost track. It is part of who I am and my day isn’t complete if I don’t get to work with yarn.
    My grandma was a big crocheter well into her nineties. I loved talking about the craft and sitting with her and working on things together. She recently passed but I have her with me whenever I sit down with my yarn.
    I’ve just started to teach my granddaughter how to crochet. She works on a couple of stitches and then runs to do something else it’s fun to watch her and to see how much she loves yarn too!

  • I just started crocheting a few years ago after 16 years of knitting. I love to crochet now. Also, Knitter’s who crochet are bringing the drapey fabric to the crochet world. It’s an awesome craft

  • I knit and crochet as well. Often, it depends on my mood. I knit when I know I’m not going to get tired since it’s so much easier to fix what I’ve messed up when I fall asleep crocheting (believe me, I’ve literally been sleep crocheting at times lately). Othertimes, I’ll pick up a crochet project because I want to finish quickly and it’s way faster than knitting. I enjoy that I can choose a pattern because I like what the end product will be without having to worry if it’s knit or crochet.

  • I love stories about knitting and crocheting- how people start, why they keep at it. Both crafts are joyful, soothing and creative- what could be nicer than that? I feel more freedom to mix colors and to freeform in crochet – it’s more forgiving of mistakes than knitting. I love knitting BECAUSE it feels more precise to me, a craft requiring more concentration on my part – which is what I often crave. Coloring versus painting for me, perhaps? Both are beautiful and joyful, each can be elevated or reduced to its potential. I wouldn’t want to have only one of amongst my yarn creating options, for sure.

  • I’m a crocheter by way of failed knitting! I tried and tried to knit but struggled so much. When I learned to crochet , it was like a lightbulb went off and I felt an instant connection. Love, love, love it!

  • i taught myself the granny square. i love making things and giving them away. Everyone I make is differant

  • I love your story about crocheting . I crosstitch, embroidery ,needlepoint, latchhook I am trying to teach myself how to crochet and eventually knitting I hope any way.

  • Hi well, how refreshing it was to read your article. I taught myself to crochet after a dear friend promptly gave me a yellow book and said that she has no patience l need to teach myself! My life changed forever ! I crochet everyday if possible and its my saving grace my chill pill. I love crocheting blankets and sharing with others. Three years ago I started a little crochet group called HAPPY HOOKERS, they are my friends and we crochet for the love of the craft. With a ball of beautifully textured yarn and a hook, you cannot become anything else than hooked…. here’s to all the “HOOKERS ” that get the same pleasure and satisfaction as we do. The rush of creativity and the ability to make a masterpiece with a ball of yarn and a hook is simply sublime. Tammy

  • I love crochet. My Mother tried to teach me when I was in high school, it was a struggle and I did not succeed. She tried again at my request when I was in my 40s. It took. I have now surpassed my Mother with my skills. I just spent a weeks vacation with her , crocheting together, sharing new stitches, visiting and reminiscing old times. She will be 90 next month. It was one of my best vacations ever ! Our craft bonds us with love.

  • I crochet but not knit. I learned to crochet from my friend when i was small. I remember my first project was a purse than a bag made of raffia. I still crochet, it helps me spending my time and I find it refreshing. My newest project is bead crochet, making neclace. I hope i can finish it soon.

  • I have always had a drive to create something pleasing to the eye as long as I can remember.
    Where the itch to learn to crochet came from I don’t know… But a little over 2 years ago I began searching YouTube videos that taught you the art of crocheting…. It has become an addiction for me.
    I finish one project and jump right into another within one day. Crocheting gives you a medium at your finger tips that helps you relax and channel your creative energy. Don’t get frustrated when you first begin…it’s very rewarding .

  • Hello all!
    My grandma taught me spool knitting at 6, and knitting at 8. I taught myself crocheting at 10 or so. It’s a toss up, but I’ve been crocheting a lot lately due to increased control and speed.
    Since I started as a kid and had a pretty emotional past, the yarn scraps I kept are valuable, so I crocheted a circle with them to join with other circles to make a blanket.
    Also I’m looking into Operation Bedroll.

  • I learned to crochet a few months ago. I’m 46. I’d wanted to learn since I was s child but never had the opportunity. I’m very happy that , though late, I’ve learned and now spend many happy hours exercising the creative beast within me.

  • I learned to crochet first from a babysitter when I was 7 or 8. I was frustrated with it because I’m left handed, and I was taught right handed because a lot of right handed people seem to think that those of us who are left handed are just faking left handedness or something. Anyway, fast forwarding many years to when my youngest child was out of diapers ( I have 4 children), I was gifted a teach yourself to knit book by my husband because I had told him I wanted to learn. Guess I thought I’d have better luck with knitting. The book had instructions for lefties, so I taught myself using those instructions. A few years later, I relearned crochet using my left hand. Now I knit and crochet in equal amounts, and love them both.

  • My first crochet project too was a granny s we are poncho when I was 13. Taught by a senior neighbor. Trimmed in black and lined in black satin. Wish I still had it

  • I am a hooker, crochet hooker! I don’t care for graphic t-shirts but I will wear one that says “I do not need a license to carry my 9mm” .. with a picture of a 9mm hook. I am a self-taught crocheter. My interest in crochet did not start until well into my twenties with a C size Susan Bates hook that I found all twisted and bent at least 45 years ago on the floor of the building where I lived. I moved many times after that, including to another country, but that hook never stayed behind. Mind you, I lost books, toys, you name it, between those moves, but never my hook. At some point throughout those years I managed to straighten out the lovely thin, light green metal hook. Then one day, pregnant with my first born, came across the hook and decided to take a walk to the library… And I was hooked! Borrowed every book I could, subscribed to magazines, bought yarn and hooks of all sizes. Thank goodness for eBay! Fast forward decades later I have stashes of yarn in practically every closet of my home. Luckily my daughter has also picked up the interest of crochet. I taught her as best as I could… seeing as she is a lefty and I am a righty, and she has completed a few projects of her own. We are those people that will buy out a yarn section if it’s on clearance. Like recently at Michael’s with Caron x Pantone… Smh. unfortunately life gets in the way and I don’t often get to play with yarn, but recently in the past few months that’s all I’ve been doing, playing with yarn and I love it! I’ve completed unfinished projects, and created and finished new ones. I am a happy hooker!

  • Great work,where can I buy the yarn and crocthet pin,I live in Lagos Nigeria

  • Hello All. Aunt taught me how to knit at age 7. I forgot but then I re-learned how to knit in my early 20’s. I am also able to crochet a bit but I am hoping to take some crochet lessons soon. I also enjoy sewing and want to work on my sewing skills. Quilting is also fun and so is Spool Knitting. I also am working on Drop-Spinning. I love love everything to do with the Fiber Arts. Something about Crochet that really appeals to me is that Crochet only uses one hook. I feel that the Fiber Arts brings me a special connection to my Ancestors.

Come Shop With Us

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping