Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Introducing the Ten Year Project

Got home from work before 7PM for the first time ever, so there's actually time to do a bit of an update.

Introducing ... the Ten Year Project ...

My path towards knitting and crocheting was slightly convoluted, beginning with a random whimsy for a crochet hook I happened to spot in a store at the age of 6. Maybe mom was trying to make me quiet, but she acquiesed and bought me a pink one and Michael a blue one. There they sat for a couple years, until one fine summer day when I spotted a girl on the playground crocheting long strands of yarn. 'Hm, I can do that,' said 8 year old Jessica, 'and I think I have one of those hooks at home.'

Back then I was a lot more organized than I am now. After fishing around my special drawer in the kitchen I came up with the shiny utensil, and off I went, going strictly on memory of the twisting pulling tugging motions of magic. And then I dragged Michael into it, and we used to sit for hours in the playground of the summer camp, crocheting long long strands of yarn. 'But what is it for???' 'Christmas ornaments,' I replied serenely. I am sure we were not the first children to be making Christmas ornaments in July, but 'tis not normal behavior, I'll give you that.

And then one day I found a Teach Yourself to Crochet book, and off I went. When something catches my fancy, the best thing to do is to duck and run. Anyways. And that's when the inspiration for the Ten Year Project was born.
'I know! I'm going to crochet a huge blanket, AND I'm going to crochet it out of all sorts of rectangles and squares that are all different shapes, because if they were the SAME shape that would be BORING, AND I'm not going to plan ahead because THAT would be boring as well, AND I'm going to use a bunch of different gauges and different stitches because that will be EVEN MORE FUN.'
Really, there's no stopping me when I go off like that.
Knitting comes from both grandmothers. My mom's mom taught me when at age six, in the Fresno house, and because I wanted to be good at knitting and be like my grandmother, I tried to knit and watch TV simultaneously and pretend that I too didn't need to watch my fingers at all. That one attempt has quite a few dropped stitches and knots in it, I can assure you. But then I put it down and forgot until 6 years later, when dad's mom taught me a second time.

So then knitting became incorporated into the Ten Year Project, as well. After all, it wouldn't do to just have crocheted squares if there could be knitted ones as well, now would it?

Throughout the years I knitted and crocheted up little pieces and slightly larger ones, and then about once a year I'd pull out my basket of bits and blobs and try to fit it all together somehow. I'd work at it and work at it for a couple hours, create a little crazy quilt patch, but everything would stretch in odd directions and finally drive me so crazy that I'd throw it down and abandon the attempt for about a year.
You can see the various knit and crocheted stitches. Somehow it never occurred to me to buy more books where they teach you fancier stitches and such. But in retrospect, that was probably a GOOD thing.
And yes, I found it necessary to make triangles.

In some places, LOTS of triangles. You can't really tell from the picture, but none of them are the same size or the same shape. Not really sure how I managed that, but if it was possible, I'd find a way to do it.
I have to say, I am REALLY glad I didn't discover circles until later on. I can just see trying to make little wedges to fit around the circle ...

I will never, ever attempt anything like this ever again in my entire life. Roughly a decade after my initial spout of brilliance, I finally finished the darn thing one summer during college, in the middle of Palo Alto heat, crouched on the living room floor [and why it never occurred to me to work on these on the table, I'll never know, although let me just say that if there's an easy way to do something, you can almost count on me to not figure it out.]
This blanket has gone with me to just about every room I've lived in since, sans Beijing because it was too difficult to try to get it under the 70 pound weight limit. Its one of those markers of 'home,' that welcoming sign at the end of a long day that just calls out to you, come here for a bit, snuggle up under the sheets and leave all the ugly realities of the day world outside our own private world, take a nap or snuggle up to a favorite stuffed animal, and when you emerge I'll still be here. This is you. This is sanctuary. This is home.

You know, there are days when I almost miss that crazy ten-year-old brain of mine that dreamt up all sorts of insane projects. Kinda almost really.


blair said...

it's amazing!!! What a story that blanket tells, I'm truly in awe! My 11 year old needs to see this.

jessica said...

Thanks Blair! It's funny, this blanket is so "me" at 10-20 and so not "me" now ... but I like that aspect of crafting, how it becomes woven into our life histories, and becomes a tactile memento of the stories of our lives.