Lessons from a Crochet Hook

Somehow I missed the memo and was not one of the students who learned how to crochet and knit during my college days (which was quite popular at my school). My friends would pull out their hook and yarn while we were watching a movie, chatting or when their brains needed a break from the books.

Well, now I’m heading to Cambodia in August to the village I visited in February. I am joining a team to help out with VBS there and in a neighboring village. Each year the boys learn a woodworking project and the girls learn a sewing project. This year, the leaders decided to teach the girls how to crochet a dishcloth. In order to teach the girls, it would be advantageous for me to learn to crochet.

I got several books from the library, some yarn and a hook and have been trying to teach myself how to crochet. One of the reasons I never picked up the art in college is that these kinds of things don’t come naturally to me. But, I think I got the hang of the basic slip knot and chain stitch so I thought I was off to a good start.

But for some reason I have been lacking the motivation to keep going and learn the next step. Am I just lazy? Maybe. But I have been wrestling with this whole idea of teaching the girls to crochet. Perhaps it is a valid skill and could help them make money (by selling the items), or get a job more easily, or just furnish items they need in their homes. Okay, that works. But we are bringing in the yarn and hooks. So where are they going to get supplies once the ones we are bringing run out? Is yarn readily available in the village area, or would someone need to bring them supplies from the “outside”, from Phnom Pehn or Bangkok or even the US? Is this a skill that can be reproduced: can they teach others and continue to develop their skills? Who will refresh their memories of the different stitches if they forget? Does this make them dependent on outsiders? Do they really want to learn this skill or are we deciding what is best for them?

Maybe I am over-analyzing this whole thing. Maybe I just need to buckle down and be diligent and learn how to do the single crochet. Or, do I need to mention something to the leaders of the VBS or the missionary there? Is there always going to be this tension when working with those in another culture (um, yes, I think so)?

Any thoughts?

1 Comment

  1. Jessica P says:

    First of all and least importantly, yes, you should learn to single crochet because it's awesome, but even more awesome is the double crochet stitch.

    Secondly, I think your questions are valid. In AmeriCorps, we talked about communities deciding what they needed. With that program, the organizations they work with apply for an AmeriCorps team to come so in that way the community kind of gets to get help in the area they need. Whether or not that works is another question, but I think sometimes really well intended people can think they know what other people need when really they don't. As an outsider, it's hard to say if some project will help the community or not. On one hand, it's good to really get a feel for what people in the community feel they need and what would be sustainable, but on the other hand, it might not hurt to try something and then be willing to be flexible and change things up if it doesn't work.


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