Hooked on it

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Shalini Akhil talks about how her mother’s crochet obsession is now hers

This is a huge year for me. A milestone – the big four-oh!
My ever-helpful husband is softening the blow by obligingly turning 40 himself six months before me. Like a full dress-rehearsal for my main event, I get to organise his first. It’s good practice, and I’m thinking themes – for him it’s all about karaoke, and for me – well, it seems I’ve gone a bit girly. Everything old is new again.

Over the past years, a pastime from my childhood has become something of an obsession. Which is odd, because when I first came across this hobby in my youth, it was put down and forgotten just as fast as I’d picked it up. But last year, it was as if a pressure valve had been released. I started crocheting again, and I couldn’t stop.

Growing up in Fiji, almost all the women I knew crocheted. The local weather and lifestyle never demanded knitting, but it did ask for protection from humidity – hence almost every household sported crochet throws on the head and arm rests of their couches. These were usually made using a natural-toned cotton twine, in a myriad of patterns. In my house, there were diamonds, pineapples, and blocks, all edged in a seashell scallop. My mother didn’t make them herself, as she worked full-time. She commissioned a local lady instead. We had 2 lounge rooms in our house, so the job was no small one.

Looking back at what happened next, I should have been prepared for the obsession-explosion. No sooner were our couches clad in their protective cotton layers, the commission compounded – crochet bedspreads for all. A crochet cover for the TV. Crochet coffee table covers. Matching crochet outfits for the whole family! (Okay, I’ll admit I made that last bit up, but I’m amazed it didn’t go that far, to be honest).

Around the same time, I had a cousin who lived in another town who was a bit of crochet whizz. She was my age, but had more of a constant nature – once she picked something up, she stuck to it. I would watch her crochet hook fly as she worked, and be amazed at the magic she created out of balls of plain cotton yarn. She wore callouses on either index finger with a sense of quiet pride. She was the queen of the pineapples.

These days, I am all about crochet. While my husband is a fan of ‘the magic’, I think he’s happy we’re not drowning in it. I’ve drawn the line at crochet bunting outside the front and back doors, another lot inside, and a mega-ripple blanket on the back of our big couch. And although I’ve stuck to working with cotton, nowadays I’m all about colour, the brighter the better.

If you’re in Melbourne and you’d like to learn crochet yourself, I teach a Beginners Crochet class in the city – check out http://morrisandsons.com.au, The next class will run on Saturday April 27.

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