Francesca has been steadily and passionately crocheting through life’s seasons since then. She blogs at FuoriBorgo from a little village in northern Italy where she lives with her husband and three children. She writes about family life, sustainable living, her vegetable garden, family-style Italian cooking and the things she makes. She is a co-author at the Simple, Green and Frugal and Co-op, a contributor to Getty Images, and contributed to the upcoming ‘Mend it Better’ by Kristin Roach. You can see her most recent crochet work on Ravelry here or browse her crochet set on Flickr here.
I stopped knitting the day I gave birth to my first stillborn baby. At first, during the hours, days and weeks I spent lying in bed staring at the bare and wintry landscape outside, all I knew was that I’d now never finish the blue and white outfit I’d been making for my baby, with so much love and anticipation. Later, giving up knitting became a conscious decision. I collected all the knitting needles lying around in the house, put them in a bag, and stored them away at the back of my linen closet.
As the new spring leaves began to sprout on the trees outside, I found that I didn’t miss knitting at all, even though I’d never sat with idle hands before. Neither had my mother, my grandmothers, or the other women in my family – to this day, I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mother just sit, without needle work, mending or knitting to keep her company.
By summertime, though, I’d begun to miss that company. I walked into a yarn store one day, and looked at the yarns. Nothing felt right. Then I noticed the crochet hooks. My grandmother had taught me crocheting as well as knitting when I was a child. I loved knitting from the start, but even though crocheting was my grandmother’s true passion, I could never really remember which of those many loops I was supposed to stick the hook through.
Now, though, things seemed different. I walked out of the store with a large size crochet hook, some white cotton, and a little booklet explaining the basic crochet stitches. To my surprise I didn’t need the booklet, because I still had those crocheting skills my grandmother had taught me: the crochet hook in my right hand, my work and the thread comfortably wrapped around my fingers in my left, felt right, just as they had when I learned crocheting as a child. Those loops finally began to make sense to me, as well as the puzzling charts, and I rapidly grew past the simple skills my grandmother had taught me. Soon I could chain, make slip stitches, do single, double and treble and reverse crochet stitches, and join these together in clusters and shells and puff stitches.
Counting loop after loop, stitch after stitch, motif after motif, before long I’d completed my first crochet piece. Winter came around again, and when I felt that familiar pang in my heart, I found that sitting and concentrating on this craft, quietly and slowly turning loops into motifs into finished pieces – the meditation of hand-crafting – helped to empty out my mind by engaging it fully, and to lighten my heart. A little.