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Writing and crochet

I love to crochet. It’s my craft of choice. I went through a stage of crocheting everything, and I think my friends and family thought I’d gone mad when I crocheted a cover for my bathroom bin. But I still love it!

As I sit and meditatively get into the rhythm of crochet, it brings up many metaphors for me. One is that crochet is like writing.

When I begin a project, I know what I’m making and I know how I’m going to go about it. But I may not know the colours or how to read the pattern, how long it will take, or if I know the stitches. Likewise, when I start writing, I know what I’ll end up with, whether it’s a blog post or a book or a poem, but I have no idea what path I’ll take to get there. I don’t know the entire plot or how it will end. (I’m what they call a ‘pantster’ who writes from the seat of her pants, as opposed to a ‘plotter’ which is self-explanatory!)

Whenever I crochet anything, I always have to undo knots I’ve got myself into (plot holes) and need to unravel and redo parts of my work (editing). This is as soul-destroying and heartbreaking as cutting parts of prose I love, but if it just does not fit or sound right, it has to go or be recast.

I love crochet because if rows or stitches go wrong or things go a bit wonky, I can easily pull it into shape with a bit of a yank and a steam iron. As with writing, I’m constantly moving sentences and shifting paragraphs or entire chapters around on my work-in-progress in Word or Scrivener. I can’t imagine the angst of writing on a typewriter or in long-hand in the olden days without being able to delete, cut and paste.

When I’m on a particularly hard piece of crochet like this drum cover and I just cannot work out the pattern, I feel like giving up. So I often put it away for a while and come back later with a revived brain and fresh eyes. It is oft-given advice to walk away from a piece of writing and come back to it after 24 hours or even six weeks!

How long you let your book rest—sort of like bread between kneadings—is entirely up to you but I think it should be a minimum of six weeks. Stephen King

Finally, crochet is a building up of layer and colour. From one little circle of chain stitches, you can hook an impressive blanket or dozens of granny squares which are then stitched together. One of my favourite parts of writing is after the first draft is down. I love going back in and developing characters, adding colour and nuance in layers throughout.

So writing is a lot like crochet, I only hope that my writing is not full of holes like my crochet blanket is!

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