Ashes to Ashes

I learn how to crochet and make a hat

I’m a little late to picking up a quarantine/COVID hobby, but over the weekend, I crocheted an entire hat on my own for the first time.

For anyone who knows me, this will come as quite a shock. I am not a particularly crafty person. I have neither the patience nor the attention to detail most crafts like knitting and crocheting require. But this past Saturday, I managed to keep it together long enough to produce a wearable item.

My beanie is more than a little wonky. I screwed up the slip stitch when connecting the two ends of the hat together, but it’s warm and from the right angle, it can pass as a store-bought item.

I’m really proud of it, especially because I’ve spent most of these past few months stuck in a rut. I haven’t been very productive and have been generally sluggish — it’s harder for me to write, I haven’t been reading as much, and I’ve spent too much time indoors with the blinds drawn.

Some of my friends tell me it might be seasonal affective disorder or the general quarantine blues, but whatever it is, it was nice to break the pattern of doing nothing this past weekend. It’s crazy the sense of empowerment and accomplishment you can get from creating something with your own hands.

I’m realizing I should try it out more often.

I’m now working on a second hat and going a little slower this time because I want it to be as perfect as it can be. After I’m finished with this second one, I’m itching to get started on something more challenging — a blanket or a pillow case. I’m hoping that these items will be good enough for me to send as gifts to family members and friends as we head into the holidays.

This will be my second Thanksgiving and Christmas in Iowa and away from family. Even under normal circumstances, I don’t think I would have been able to travel back to California, but I might have been able to crash a Friendsgiving dinner or get together with local friends to exchange gifts. With the pandemic, any plans to celebrate with other people have gone out the window.

I’m not going to say I’m not a little sad. It’s not super fun spending holidays alone. Last year on Christmas, I visited a local animal shelter and sat with cats for as long as my allergies could hold out before going back to my apartment to have boxed mashed potatoes, which I didn’t know were a thing until I moved to the Midwest.

I had mistakenly bought a large box, thinking it would only produce a small pot of the side dish. I was wrong. I still have that box in my kitchen, which I should probably throw out since it’s basically a year old.

I have a feeling a lot of people will be making hard decisions this holiday season about visiting family and whether to go to long-held, traditional gatherings.

Take it from someone who is about to go it alone for the second time in a row: it’s not so bad. Hopefully this time next year, the world will be in a better place and we can hold celebrations, travel home and hug our loved ones without hesitation.

Until then, I’ll just keep on crocheting. If anyone has any cool and relatively easy crochet patterns they’d like to share, send them my way at ashley.duong@southeastiowaunion.com.