Climbing aboard the Crocheting Craze
Sapphire goes to a Steiner school via the public education system here in South Australia and it has a big emphasis on simpler and more natural ways of learning.
This can be difficult in the third millennium's noughties, but her teacher does a good job of ensuring that, at least for six hours a day five days a week the kids don't have to worry about computer games, iPods, fashions, plastics or chemicals while they learn. Instead, they use natural beeswax crayons to write in their handmade books, collect wood and seed pods to use for counting games; grow fruit and vegetables that they then harvest to take home or cook in the classroom for shared meals and enjoy a great deal of story telling and music making.
Steiner education may not permit Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards, Beanie Kids or sticker swapping in the classroom but the kids still have their own crazes and fads. Crocheting is the cool thing to do in Grades 3/4 in 2008, believe it or not. I'd dearly love to be a fly on the wall (painted in organic, natural-dye paint by us parents during weekend working bees of course) to witness Cathryn encouraging some of the slightly more worldly and cynical boys take up the craft but somehow she has.
Our model here, young Skipper, is wearing what Sapphire calls a toy hat and - bless him - he was prepared to leave it sitting on his head for about thirty seconds; literally an Ice Age of tolerance for a domestic pet being laughed at and photographed. We couldn't even catch Milly (even with two gammy arthritic legs and chalky hips) to try on her red pinafore, let alone get the camera out. Milly may be prepared to rub her anus on the carpet in front of visitors but try whipping out the tiny Santa Hat and there's only a cloud of hot dust in her wake as she is painfully sensitive to open mockery and hilarity at her expense.
Since then, Sapph's crocheted clothes for her toy rabbits, a handbag for me, sunglass cases, friendship bracelets and created entire dolls out of wool (100% merino, naturally) donated by folk eager to keep the materials as Steinerish as possible.
Luckily, her talents for clothing haven't extended beyond her toys because I'm dreading the return of the crocheted bikini since its last real outing in the nineteen seventies. Although maybe the Brazilian was invented for just such an unlikely event?
It reminds me of my grandfather who at the age of seven was forced to wear a knitted bathing suit made by a clueless great aunt who posted it over to Strathalbyn for his birthday. Being 1920, it resembled the standard fashion of the day - a kind of Graeco-Roman wrestler's uniform of boy briefs and suspenders stretched over the shoulders. His aunt's version was, he once wrote to me, mercifully thick and dark and thus designed to ensure complete modesty and comfort.
Until it got wet that is. Then, the wool sucked up the lower stretches of the Angas River and gained several stone in weight, dragging the straps down so that they cut into young Jack Herbert Read's shoulders and resulted in the briefs stubbornly settling around his ankles in a slimy heap. What started out as a relatively innocuous swimming costume now resembled a paedophile's peep show framed in purl one, plain two, purl one. Even Steiner can't be relied upon to manufacture anything better for the water than spandex and quick dry lycra.
However, it is not only Sapphire and her classmates who are fond of crochet it seems.
Young Skipper has developed a real liking for the old towels that line his kitty litter tray and reduced them to passable imitations of crochet but without the use of the hooked needle.
They don't look too bad when the sun shines through them either:
Perhaps he'd rather his hat done in blue than white.