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Yarn Over, Double Chain, Yarn Over…Start Over

My best friend and critique partner crocheted me a scarf for Christmas. It’s a beautiful red yarn with tiny gold thread running through it and I absolutely love it. She used a loom and after I saw the others she’d done decided I wanted to do some myself.

With coupons in hand, I went to Michaels, found the loom (and a couple of others in different sizes), picked out the yarn, and the crochet hook I’d need to finish the ends when I was done.

I may have forgotten to mention that I did not know how to crochet, which was why the loom sounded like a perfect solution for me. I mean really, how hard could it be to just finish the thing with some single stitches at the end.

I’d completed about 10 rows when I realized I wasn’t putting the yarn on the loom correctly and had to pull it off and start over.

Maybe reading the directions a little better would have been a good idea, but I wanted to start making the scarf, not spend time making sure I knew what I was doing. Hmmm…I think I’ve been down this road before.

It took about a week of working on it in the evenings to finish it. Uh yes, I should have been writing, but right now, I have this story idea germinating. And I did have a pad and pen with me while I was working on this project. Sometimes doing something else my ideas and plotting really start to flow.

Here’s a picture of that one. The ends are…okay, not so much matching a hundred percent, but unless you look hard, you wouldn’t really notice.


What’s a girl to do? Yep, go to Michaels and buy some more yarn. Only this time I decided I wanted to truly crochet a scarf. No loom, just the hook and me. With several hooks in different sizes and several different skeins of yarn in different colors and sizes I was went home ready to begin.

The problem? I have (or had), no idea how to do that. So I did what anyone who needs to do some research does. I went to the internet. YouTube to be exact. There I found many videos on crocheting. Learned how to do the single crochet stitch and then…stop! These women’s fingers flew across the screen and they used language that I did not understand. Chain three, single, skip two, chain 5 and so on. I soon realized I was way over my head and needed to start at the beginning with something much simpler than a shell stitch.

The girl who works across from me in my day job crochets and knits (with 4 needles, dear Lord), she’s made several baby hats with the most adorable flowers on the sides. I told her my plan, err plight, and she said bring the yarn, bring the hooks (all of them) and she’d show me what to do.

You’d think I would have learned from the above-mentioned taking the yarn off the loom and starting over several times before I had that down. But nope, not me. I brought in this beautiful gunmetal gray yarn that all soft and furry and going to be the most beautiful scarf in the world yarn. Yeah, the girl looked at me with you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me eyes. She took the time to show me what to do, but strongly suggested I used a ‘normal’ yarn for my first time.

I was determined to do this. I worked at it for several nights and realized that I had no idea what she’d really taught me and my very pretty yarn was knotting up something horrible.

Back to the proverbial drawing board. New yarn, the ‘normal’ kind and this time I told her to tell me what to do and let me do it instead of watching her. She gave me the directions, which sounded like this:

Yarn Over

Go under single chain

Yarn Over

Pull through single

Yarn Over

Pull through two

Yarn Over

Pull through two

And do it all again

I said, ‘I’ve got’ this and went home. Greek. It was all Greek to me and that’s saying something since Science Guy is Greek. I should have written them down, but well you know how I am with the whole study the directions thing. Once again, I took it back into the office and on our lunch break she showed me what I was doing wrong, wrote down the directions (and I understood them this time).

Everything was going great. My rows were beautiful, my two single chains at the end of the row before I turned were perfect and then it happened. It’s a long weekend, I wanted to get as much done as possible to take in and show her what I’d accomplished, when I realized I was no longer going into the correct chain, the first chain of the new row, but instead into the first chain of the two I made before making the turn. All of sudden I had not a row of 24 chains to work with, but more like 36.

Here’s a picture that doesn’t really show how off it is, but trust me it is.



And here’s a picture before I started adding to many stitches. Much straighter, don’t you think?


Should I take it out and start over? Again? I didn’t want to and went on about my business with several more rows only to stop and realize it was beginning to look more like a funnel than a scarf.

I had to pull out over half of it and now I’m ready to start once more. Maybe, hopefully, okay so I’m praying, I’ll pay closer attention this time. I’d like to think I could finish this and move on to the next stitch. I’d love to learn the shell stitch and even make an afghan.

All of this got me to thinking about my writing. I used to sit down and start a book with just a little information. The hero, heroine and a conflict. I’m an organic writer by nature. I know the beginning and I know the end, a few scenes here or there, but most of the rest of it comes as I’m writing. I like it that way. I like seeing the beauty of the story unfold without knowing everything.

The problem with that is just like above, I usually have to tear it apart somewhere around the end of chapter three and break it down to the bones of the story. What is really important? Does the conflict work or could a conversation take care of it? Is it even possible for the hero to do this or that?

Instead of wasting time, I now plot more. I spend the time doing the research on what may seem like a tiny thing, but that tiny thing will not work unless I have it correct. I’ve learned that I’d rather do the taking out during the editing process then begin again and again without getting to the end. Or at least without getting to the end without it taking forever. To take the time at the beginning of the book to fully understand my characters, their backstory that doesn’t even hit the page, but makes them who they are today.

It only took me three books to figure that much out and now my process is much smoother. I no longer have to start the book over several times before I ‘get it right’. And that’s a nice feeling.

Maybe with the next stitch I learn, I’ll pay closer attention to the directions, take my time to make sure I’ve it correct and then enjoy the beauty of the finished product without it taking forever to achieve.

What about you? Do you rush through things without always taking the time to make sure you’ve got it down before beginning? Or are you like me, wanting to start so badly that you do just that, begin and have to start over several times before you know it’s correct? Do you do the same thing in your writing or did you learn from the beginning to make sure you have all the facts and what you need to know before starting?



7 Responses

  1. Good post, Vicki. Glad you found a good hobby. With my writing, I always take the time to make sure I have it planned, like the chapter outlines, down from the beginning. That’s what I did with the past two books I wrote. It gives me the direction I want to take with my story. I’m a plotter when it comes to that. I’m kind of the same way when it comes to other things like cooking and learning new card or board games to play with friends.

  2. This is a perfect example of writing!!! I have seen SOO many people (me included) who jump in without having any idea of what I’m doing!

    I tried to crochet but OMG! I hated it. Had to pay too much attention to what I was doing.

    Now, I’m back to cross stitching. 🙂

  3. Okay, yes. I do that. A lot.

    I’m really afraid that my current wip is getting funnel on me. It’s not that I haven’t planned it well. Okay, maybe not. But I have a 9 page synopsis, so it should work out, right? Hm. I’m not sure. I may be like you….keep going and hope it words itself out.

    For heaven’s sake, I just wrote a scene where my heroine’s former lover pops up unexpectedly. I didn’t know what to do, so she passes out in the potato salad. Yeah…funnel.

  4. How funny. My mom loves to crochet. She is also learning to do cross stitch. She and my daughter are the artistic ones. Jade makes jewelry, paints, scrapbooks, etc.

    Now give me a camera and some landscapes, flowers, etc and I go to town. Photography is my only other hobby besides reading. I have metal walls in my office and I have almost 200 pictures on my walls. It’s a great conversation starter when new employees come in to fill out paperwork.

  5. OMG Liz, you had me laughing so hard at my desk people where looking at me odd. I can’t wait to read that book.

    Heather – I love taking pictures, but they don’t always turn out so well. A little shaky, a little blurry, and you know missing what I really wanted. All that and I have a pretty decent camera to work with.

    Cindy – I tried cross stitch and although I love it, I couldn’t do more than the ones that had the outline printed on the cloth.

    Jaime – I’m much better now than I used to be, but I still don’t like to know everything. Otherwise I get bored with the book. I love it when something happens that I wasn’t planning and I get to sit back and say, ‘Really…hmmm will this work?’ Most o fthe time it does.

  6. Hi Vicki,

    Lovely story. I crochet, and knit under duress (I knitted too many socks, can’t stand it now) and write. I have to tell you, I laughed all the way through the blog. Been there so to speak.

    I’ve also learning spinning, cross stitch and any other number of handiwork that I no longer have time for. Why? Because now I write and that took care of whatever spare time I have.


  7. Hi, Vicki!

    I could certainly relate to your post. Although I am not an author, I can’t begin to tell you how many cards I have started, only to take away, add to, and start over! If I would take the time to sketch out and plan, rather than just plunge right in, I would certainly save time in the end!

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