My first sweater, completed on Oct. 19, 2020. My first Crochet needle (right) and trusty needles (left) is shown.
My first sweater, completed on Oct. 19, 2020. My first Crochet needle (right) and knitting needles (left) are shown.

As a kid, I’d often walk hand-in-hand with my mom to Joann’s fabrics. The store was enormous — especially for a 12-year-old. The isles would stretch for miles filled with hundreds of colors of yarn. I would run my little hands over the yarn as I walked by.

One bundle would be thick and brown, almost like a mixture of Oreo chocolate ice cream. The next would be thin and yellow. I’d grab it, imagining I was holding a serving of al-dente spaghetti noodles.

Then, out of the hundreds of selections, my mom would lay her eyes on one. It was the lucky winner of our yarn lottery. Then, it’d get scanned, thrown in a bag, locked in the car trunk, and left in the closet for weeks.

A few weeks later, my mom’s creative inspiration would pick up again, and we’d repeat the process.

The sad little bundles of yarn would stay in the closet. Soon enough, we began a collection of pouting bundles of unused yarn, yelling to be picked up and sown into something beautiful.

One day, I walked into the closet. We almost made our own version of Joann’s Fabrics at home with the amount of unused yarn we had accumulated. I began to wonder what to do with all of it while staring at the wall of yarn.

The word “crochet” sounded fancy, I thought. The word itself sounded fancier than the dull visual of using a stick to knot yarn together. Right then, I imagined scenarios of what I would say if my teacher asked our class for a fun fact about oursleves.

‘I crochet,’ I would say in my dream.

‘You crochet?’ my teacher would reply, astonished.

‘Yeah, I’ve been doing it for a while. I really like crocheting.”

I would imagine myself annunciating the word. Crochet. I’d pout my mouth on the first part of the word “cro.” I’d smile during “chet.”

The word made me feel like I lived in a small house in suburban France. I’d tend my cow named Bessie while watering my plants. “Crochet,” I’d repeat in my head.

Needless to say, I was obsessed with the word. Although it’s a weird reason, it sparked my first flame of inspiration.

I nagged my mom to teach me. I was thrilled as soon as my mom sat me down to teach me how to crochet. I had a plan when school started: I would sneak a bundle in my backpack, feed the string out of the zipper opening, and knit during class. I yanked the cord when I needed more to crochet with.

The kids in my class would glare in confusion. I thought they glared in awe, but it took me a couple years to figure out that they though it was weird. It didn’t matter to me, though. I was living my whimsy French dream.

In 8th grade, I’d sell crocheted pillowcases for $10 among my middle school class. It was probably against the school code of conduct, but I became my own businesswoman. I was branded as “the Christian Crochet Girl.” I probably sold around 5–10 pillowcases, but in my mind, I was ready to walk into the halls of Shark Tank.

At that time, I never really knew what I wanted to do in life. I didn’t have a career in mind; I just knew that my hobby was crocheting. I had no real skills under my belt.

The sun would rise and set, and I’d relive the same day. School, homework, crochet, Girl Scouts, shower, dinner, sleep.

At one point, I lost the motivation.

The word wasn’t as beautiful. My lips wouldn’t crease at the “chet” anymore. The image of living in suburban France became weary and gray.

Once high school hit, my world was consumed in homework. The paperwork buried the once vibrant image of my hands feeding the blood red thread into a pillowcase. The bundles of yarn stayed in the closet, collecting dust.

As I closed the door of the closet to leave my sewing needles one day, I didn’t realize that the next time I’d open the door again would be years later.

I changed as time went on. My face grew longer, and I became taller. I became more interested in cameras and romantic comedies. College hit, I got a boyfriend, a job at the local news station, and started classes. My dusty needles watched me through the slight opening under the door in nostalgia.

I turned around one evening and looked at the closet door. I walked towards the handle. I took a peek inside, and I saw the shining, white needles. The sight brought a wave of reminiscence, embarrassment, and excitement all at the same time.

Surprisingly, I picked them up, dusted them off, and drove to Joann’s Fabrics again.

My needles were probably more excited than I was.

I picked up white, pink, and teal bundles and started my stiches. I had to re-watch a YouTube video around 20 times to remember.

This is when I actually became serious about knitting. It almost was a sport. While marathon runners have to train for endurance and discipline, I’d knit until my hands felt numb and get bruises. At one point, I had to tape my thumbs, so they’d stop getting so bloody.

Such a pretty sight.

Months of bruises accumulated, but my sweater looked more like a sweater. I made a promise that I would complete it from start to finish, no matter what it took.

Then, my grandma died.

I dropped my needles. They echoed on the floor when they hit. My hands laid motionless. I was frozen.

The news was completely unexpected. She passed away in Miami, so I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye. No warning. Nothing.

My needles couldn’t do anything to help me. They sat in my nightstand watching in pity and slowly watched me grow unmotivated in school and things I loved. It took a minute to tie two knots. Two minutes to tie one.

If that wasn’t enough, my boyfriend broke up with me for no clear reason.

A tear fell onto the knot as I tied it. The hunchback sweater looked up in desolation, but my needles held my hand through it.

From the start of the pandemic, to drama at work, loss of friends, and a couple of desperate moments, my needles promised me it would be okay.

I had made a promise back: I wasn’t going to stop then.

My needles saw me grow. At the time, I thought my needles didn’t do anything to help me. Looking back, they did the most.

I learned discipline. It took strength to continue knitting every day. Despite what happened through life, the needles still called my name. I somehow still managed to run its way. I learned tenacity. Enduring this stage of my life was not an easy one.

What once was an empty skill belt, was now a belt packed with dozens of skills. I became friends with resilience, organization, perseverance, and confidence.

Finally, the day came.

I wrapped up my last few stitches. One stich, the next, and the one after. The last stitch came.

I took my needle. I passed it under the loop, carefully grabbed the thread, and strung it through.

I finished.

The last stitch was especially symbolical. I wrapped up all of the harbored pain and anger of the past. It wrapped up my childhood years of learning. I had never amounted to a project that took months to finish, and I was excited to finally finish it. I completed my promise.

I could’ve easily bought the sweater for $40 on amazon, but because my own hands made it and memories were attached to each stitch, it was priceless. The bottom half represented excitement and youth, and I could remember every adversity I overcame as I scanned my way up. It was a tangible timeline of my year and growth.

The next day, I picked up the finished sweater from its rack. I styled it with a pair of light blue mom jeans, white crew-length socks, and Converse.

As I looked in the mirror wearing my new sweater, I realized that I was the best version of myself. I was the strongest, most resilient that I’d ever been.

I managed to overcome the biggest issues in my life and still finish my goal. Every time I wear my sweater, I’m reminded of the work it took and how much I’ve grown.

Still, I have more growing to do.

Maybe my needles will do the trick again.

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