Guest Author - Beverly Elrod
The Crochet Dudes, Sherman J Foster Sr, communities of male crocheters, and the list goes on. What do these men have in common? They’re all crocheters. The Crochet Dudes have published books of patterns and have a lot of fun with their craft and the items they design. Various communities of male crocheters generally produce intricate hats; often crocheted with beads which are worn for ceremonial purposes. But, the one that I’m the most familiar with and who told me his crochet story, is Sherman J Foster Sr, my father.
My father has passed away, but before doing so he told me his story of how he learned to crochet and the fiber arts that he’d created since then. My father went to school, as many did at that time, in a one room school house that taught all grades in that one room. Often, when students finished their assigned tasks, the teacher would hand them some yarn and a hook and taught them to crochet; thus, keeping them busy and their hands out of trouble. So, it came to be that, my father first learned to crochet at the age of nine. His first (and several) projects were hot pads, done in single crochet. Two squares were made and then crocheted together for thickness. His grandmother received many potholders from him, that first Christmas. Eventually, he learned more stitches and how to go from squares to circles.
At the age of 17, my mother met my father, through his brother. She came to baby sit his third child. Eventually, they fell in love and married. It was never told to me how my mother learned to crochet, but learn she did. And, thus, at the age of 8, I learned to crochet from my mother. My two female siblings, and I, learned to knit and crochet at about the same time. Oh, and some of the outlandish things we made-or, at least, what I made. I loved pink and I had enticed my mother to purchase some hot pink yarn. During the winter months, I felt creative and designed a triangular shaped nose warmer. It may have looked funny to others, but it was warm and served its purpose. But, that’s getting off the subject.
Many days (but mostly nights) I’d be sitting and either reading a book or crocheting and my father held that prominent pose so my mother could wind a hank of yarn into a workable ball. I’m not sure how it happened, but somewhere along the line he did learn to read patterns. On cold winter nights he and my mother would sit side-by-side and crochet tablecloths with size #10 crochet thread, while watching TV.
But, as my father’s rheumatoid arthritis began to flare up and his vision worsened, he’d sit in his recliner with a ball of yarn and crochet hook and start to crochet. He wasn’t much for using patterns at that time, but still he’d crochet. He did make some hot pads for my mother. Later, he took to making bigger items with yarn and favored making baby blankets. As he got on in years, he mostly did the baby blankets. No patterns. He’d just crochet whatever seemed to be the thing to crochet. Sometimes he’d go from double crochet to single crochet and then when he realized it, he reverse it on the next row. His most favorite thing to make was the baby blankets. He’d do each one different but, he almost always used the baby variegated yarn. When someone in his church was ready to have a baby, he’d have a baby blanket ready to gift to them. And, when the church held an auction, he had a baby blanket ready to donate. The last baby blanket that went to an auction is one that took from his stash that I inherited. I could easily tell that it was made by my father because of the colors and design. I typed up a short story to go with the baby blanket. The charity was for something that had to do with children. And, that particular blanket auctioned for $75.00.
One of my dads favorite story to tell is how he was crocheting a tablecloth and he got to the very last row and it just wasn’t working out right. He checked the pattern for that row several times, but it just wasn’t working out. The previous rows all seemed fine…until he got way down to the fourth round. There he found the culprit error. What should he do? Should he frog (unravel) it all the way back there and redo it? Goodness, it just wasn’t worth it. He found his solution when he saw a pair of scissors nearby. He cut from the error on the fourth row all the way out to the last row. Then, he tied in yarn on each row and completed the round as per the pattern. Cutting the rows, reworking them and weaving in the ends on each round took way less time than it would have had he frogged it all and reworked it. He told my mothers tatting instructor what he’d done and his creative way of fixing the problem. Sometime later, she told him that she’d done the same type of mistake while crocheting and told herself, “If John (what my father usually went by as that was supposed to be his middle name except for a typo at the county clerks office and it never being fixed)…If John can do it, so can I”. So, she took to her scissors and snipped to the error and out to the last row and tied in thread on each row and reworked each row. She was amazed that she really could do it, but thrilled at her handiwork.
Since hearing that story, I’ve used this creative “repair” a few times. Once, while helping a crochet student who had made an error on a queen sized bed spread done in the diagonal crazy box stitch. She was truly horrified when I took up a pair of snips and clipped down to the previous row. But, when I showed her the easy fix, she was amazed and I came out looking like I knew everything there could possibly be to know about crocheting.