But that expression "not your grandmother's crochet" still plucks my nerves. As far as I know, unless she just took up the hobby, my grandmother does not crochet and she never has. She is not one of the "traditional" grandmothers that the phrase seems to have in mind. My grandmother was widowed young (31) with 6 kids. She was too busy working to crochet or do much of anything else - she was (still is) more of a reader than anything else. I learned a lot from her, but I didn't learn crochet from my mom's mom.
I didn't learn from my father's mom. Apparently she was a bit wild in her younger as well as her older days (destroying bars, being a bigamist, living in sin) to have spent her time crocheting.
However, she did like to bake occasionally. I never really knew her well as she lived in in a different state. I also learned a lot from her, but not how to crochet.
My older sister, Bee, taught me how to crochet (and knit). She took dress design in her vocational school and that's something the students had to learn. She struggled teaching me how to crochet because I was (still am) very impatient. It seemed to flow freely from her hands, but I just couldn't seem to grasp it. It took me about a few months of practicing and watching and Bee showing me time and time again for me to get that "aha" moment.
I had to make something for my Home Ec class, any project, but it had to be crocheted or knitted. The Home Ec teacher didn't show us _how_ to do it, we were supposed to know. And we were also supposed to bring the item into class so she could see us actually work on it.
I choose yellow and green yarn for the colors (it matched my bedroom). The yarn I bought was rug yarn, I think. It was the least expensive of the yarns in the five and dime I visited and the start of my love affair with Boye hooks, a size H.
Bee did the chain stitch to start. I had great difficulty starting the project. Now I realize I pulled the chains too tight and couldn't work stitches in them, but I didn't know that then. I don't remember if Bee tried to get me to make them looser or not. At any rate, I was stitching along. Horizontal green and yellow stripes, done in double crochet, that had a sort of "rib" effect. I didn't know I was supposed to put the hook under _both_the loops on the top of the stitch. Bee probably did about 30% or so of the afghan. But having to take it to school and show my work made me try to learn the stitches better.
The teacher had doubts (reasonably so) that I was actually doing the work. I was slow and it would be unreasonable to think I had gotten so much done so quickly. But the day finally came when I could whip the project out of my duffel bag and actually accomplish some rows while in class. After that, the teacher didn't question my ability to crochet. I honestly don't remember what other people made. I can't remember if there were amazingly complex patterns or just ponchos (it was the late 60s). But I was sure glad I got that project done. And it certainly kept me warm.
The afghan is long gone now, a victim of time and moving. It wasn't that beautiful a project, but it was important to me. The joy of actually creating a project that big has stayed with me. I still enjoy the accomplishing of any project, whether big or small. And I've made a ton of afghans since that time, but that first one remains in my memory as an extra special afghan.
After all, how many crochet projects keep you warm, co-ordinate with your room and get you a good grade in school?