Monday, October 20, 2008

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.

9 comments:

Miles McClagan said...

It's probably really bad that the main Steiner I know is Scott Steiner, the wrestler who took so many steroids he was always knackered two minutes in...

He'd be a great teacher - I can't crochet, at all, the less said about my making career the better...

Ask me about the jewellery box sometime...

Catherine said...

Right back at ya Kath! Thanks for the lovely comments on my blog. I am going to miss you so much...do you REALLY have to go?
Loved reading about your grandpa, those knitted bathers would have been a sight.
Do you know I had a red suit my mum crocheted for me? It was a three piece - pants, cardi and matching hat. I looked totally fab.

franzy said...

I don't think it's entirely the realm of Steiner - we normal publikschulern went through Tomboy stitch crazes fairly regularly.
I still have mine.
Every now and then I pull it out, add a couple more rows with the chopstick and hide it carefully away so that no one throws it away.
As far as I know, it's the longest one in the school ...

Baino said...

Ah the crocheted bikini and little crocheted edges on hand towels that you find at the local fete! Lovely things. I'm with Franzy here, my boy had to make a pair of shorts in year 7 and is a dab hand with a sewing machine! He still wears them as boxer shorts bless his desperate bum! (erm Milly has itchy anal glands - you can fix that if you're brave!)

Kath Lockett said...

Ah yes Franzy and Baino, she's done the tomboy and finger knitting (as I did). I'm eagerly awaiting your 'Longest TomBoy' musuem next to the Big Koala, Franzy, should the writing or coffee making gigs not pan out.

Miles you MUST write about your jewellery box!

Thanks Catherine. Hey at this rate we'll still be here - esp if the bank doesn't take kindly to my asking for 'bridging finance of oh, about six hundred and fifty thousand' this Thursday!

Oh and Baino - Milly's sorted. Thanks for asking.

squib said...

What a darling little hat! Awwwwww

When I was a kid I had this shop set up in my bedroom and I used to make horrible wool belts and Archie comic bookmarks and then I used to flog them to my mum's visitors. They always felt obliged to buy them and I cashed in big time. I used all mum's wool

River said...

Crochet is something I never learned how to do. On purpose. My mum tried to convince me such a skill would come in handy as I could make all manner of crafty things for my home and I could sell some at fetes as well. I'd been to fetes and seen tables full of little crocheted thingys, most of them still unsold at the end of the day. So I refused all offers of lessons and to this day I'm glad.

eleanor bloom said...

My Nanna was a great crocheter. We have a photo of me as a wee lass wearing a floor length skirt she'd made me. Shame I'm focusing so hard on walking down a rocky incline that I've neglected to notice the wind has whipped it up over my waist.

I'm not one for crocheting meself; gives me a headache...

The Blakkat said...

That white thing on it's head makes that rabbit look cute. I really have little to add about croqueting.