My New Hobby (and a Simple Crochet Baby Blanket!)

When we got orders to Leavenworth, Kansas, I wasn’t overly thrilled (as most of you are now well aware). However, this state and this town have both been one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of our military adventure so far. There are lots of reasons why this assignment is turning out to be really great for me and our family…among them is that this quiet midwest town is continually offering me chances to get back to some of the things I loved long ago (fitness), as well as try new things I’ve always wanted to learn. Literally 8 minutes from our house, in our tiny town that has just a few shops, there is a quilt store, a sewing store, and a knitting store…all in one block. You guys…it feels like this town was made for me!

Each store has a wide variety of well-priced lessons and classes; and after discovering that a few months ago, I committed to three personal and creative goals for our one year here: 1) Learn to knit at the knitting shop, 2) Learn to use my inherited fancy embroidery machine and serger at the sewing shop, and 3) Complete a quilt by participating in the local Block of the Month at the quilt shop (you can follow my block-of-the-month progress on Instagram!). Because of the demands of this blog, my free-lance writing, teaching fitness at the gym, and being mom to Henry, I can’t dive into all of these things at once (as much as I’d love to!). As such, I am systematically working my way through the town, picking up new hobbies and skills as I go! I started with learning to knit…and you guys, I’m hooked (ha!).

Simple Crochet Baby Blanket

As many of you personal friends and long-time readers know, my beloved mother was an avid and extremely talented knitter. She actually did many crafts and did them all so well, but if there is one hobby and skill I think of when I think of her, it’s knitting. For as long as I can remember, she always had knitting needles in her hand or mid-project sitting in a bag at her feet waiting to be picked up again. Every car trip, waiting room, plane ride, and movie night, she was working on something. Sweaters and baby blankets were her forte. Not a babe in our rather large family doesn’t have a knit blanket from Mom. So many times as a girl, she offered to teach me to knit…and I never wanted to. I guess part of me figured she’d be there whenever I was ready to learn. When Mom passed away last year, all of the amazing hand-crafted things she made over the years became all-the-more special and precious to me and my family. In the almost two years since she passed away, I have become very aware of what gifts hand-crafted items are to those we love…and remain so long after we’re gone.

Honestly, I never really thought about learning to knit and figured I never would with Mom now gone. But when I walked into the small but adorable local yarn shop, it immediately felt right. I suddenly wanted to learn, and signed up for lessons right away. Mom would have been so excited.

Simple Crochet Baby Blanket

My teacher wanted me to start with crochet before moving on to knitting. This made my sisters and I chuckle because Mom hated to crochet, and she only knit. As such, I didn’t want to learn to crochet, but chose to trust in my teacher’s program. After four lessons, I had mastered the basic crochet stitches and felt confident enough to take on my first project. A dear, dear friend had asked me to be her baby’s godmother…and like Mom did for every baby in our family, I wanted to make a knit blanket for my new goddaughter. I purchased yarn, and each night while watching the news…just like Mom did…I worked away at my first little creation: a simple crochet baby blanket.

Simple Crochet Baby Blanket

Night after night, my little blanket grew. It’s not perfect or complicated (it’s a basic double crochet the whole way). But in addition to making a sweet creation for a sweet baby girl, working on this blanket taught me the joy and satisfaction in such a simple craft. I now understand why Mom (and so many!) loved it so. Instead of being locked away in my office…sitting at my computer or hunched over my sewing machine…I can be at work on something (which my heart and my hands seemingly need!) but still be with my family. I can watch the news or a movie, oversee Henry riding his bike outside, pass the time on car trips, and more. I can pick it up when I feel like it, and put it away when I’m tired or bored. It’s soothing and meditative…and most of all…it allows me and even forces me to think about Mom. Just like when I sit at her sewing machine to work on projects, I can’t help but think about and miss her when I look down and see yarn in my hands and on my lap.

Simple Crochet Baby Blanket

Learning to crochet wasn’t hard but it wasn’t easy either. In fact, I was surprised and sometimes even frustrated that I couldn’t get it quickly and easily. Knitting is practically in my blood, after all! It challenged my brain and my hands; and for the first time in a long time, I found myself eager to practice and improve. I worked on my little blanket each night during the news; and with every passing broadcast, I did get better. My hands still cramp from time to time, and I still have to watch them as I go; but the movements are becoming second nature, and my stitches are becoming more uniform.

All in all, it has been so incredibly refreshing and rewarding to learn a new skill. I am self-taught at almost everything I do…and as a result I feel like I fake-it-til-I-make-it through so much. So many of my hobbies have turned to jobs (fitness and crafting) and while that is fantastic, it can also rob me of the joy I once had for those hobbies. But this…this feels simple and leisurely and soothing. It feels like something that will always be there when I need it or want it…something I will be able to do for the rest of my life. Like I said…unexpected surprises were waiting for me in this town. And I am so grateful.

This week, I start knitting with two needles and I am just so excited. I don’t necessarily plan to document each and every project as I go here on the blog, but I really wanted to share with you all this part of my journey here in Kansas and also as a crafter. It becomes all too easy to stay in our comfort zone and just do the things we’ve always done. I’m so thankful for this reminder to never stop learning new things…who knows what new love you’ll find!

Simple Crochet Baby Blanket

After a crazy couple of weeks, I’m (mostly!) back into my groove and finally catching up! I hope you have a great start to your week, and I’ll see you back here on Wednesday!

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11 Responses to My New Hobby (and a Simple Crochet Baby Blanket!)

  1. I really can’t wait to see what you knit. My grandma (97 years old!) knits. And crochets. I picked up crochet a long time ago and have a small bag that goes with us on road trips that contains stuff to make a wash cloth. She has taught me more than once how to knit and I still don’t get it. I guess I need to sit down and really put some time and effort into it. Before I don’t have my grandmother to ask what I was doing wrong!

    • Happy Monday, Kristie!

      I do actually think Mom taught me once a upon a time. I recall not being into it and never practicing. This time around I am learning that you really do need to practice if you’re going to get it for good. Practicing for just 20 minutes each night while I catch up on the news has been PERFECT! I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on my knitting journey!

      Hope your week is off to a great start!

  2. You are such an inspiration! My husband is in the (UK) RAF, and I have been a military spouse for 15 years. They have been very hard years, and I found myself very ill caring for my three children, one of whom is disabled. I have never had the time, energy or money to make our rentals feel like home and it is an awful way to live. I read your blog and hope that one day we will feel proud of our home. I crochet to keep me sane and can vouch that it is a fantastic hobby! I hate knitting though…I am honestly useless with those two pointy sticks. Your energy and enthusiasm is fabulous, and I really wish you and your family the best of luck in all you do x

    • Hi Emma!

      Thank you so much for this sincere and kind comment! I am so glad that you find inspiration in what I do! So many times I wonder if what I do both in my home and here on the blog are worth it. Thank you for reminding me that both are valuable! Best of luck to you too, this lifestyle sure isn’t easy but know you have a sisterhood standing along side of you 🙂

      Have a great rest of your weekend!

  3. I had to comment, as an Army wife who was stationed at Leavenworth for CGSC in the 1980s. Leavenworth was one of our favorite posts. I was shocked myself! Downtown is adorable…do they still have that western sidewalk thing?…so much to do…wonderful people…don’t forget to try those Wolferman English muffins…nice schools…I took a bazillion classes (they called it The Best Year of your Life) learned to weave baskets, took exercise classes…best thing I did was work with the Officers Wives and the Salvation Army wrapping gifts for children of the prisoners at all three prisons…the DB, Leavenworth, and Kansas. Included in the gift were notes from their parents..lterribly sad, but so satisfying that the children would not have to suffer as well. Enjoy your time there…winters are rough…summers are hot…but it is a wonderful place to be..l

    • Hi Holly!

      I loved this comment last week, thank you so much for sharing…so many shared experiences so many years apart! Yes, they till call it “The Best Year of Your Life,” but we are a bit skeptical. Kansas and Leavenworth are great, but the coursework is pretty intense so we’re having a hard time carving out the time and space to enjoy it all. Still, a pleasant surprise, that’s for sure! Time seems to be passing so quickly though, hope I get to fit into all there is to do!

      Thanks again for sharing your experiences! Hope you have a great rest of your weekend!

  4. I’m so glad God had happy little surprises for you tucked away in Leavenworth! Even though they were there, you had to choose to look for them. And you did! Good for you Megan! Tonight, I went to my first paint night. I’m totally a perfectionist and I have no artistic skill at all. I’ve been anxious about it for a long time. But it was actually fun! It really was good for this middle-aged Air Force wife to learn to do something new even though it was highly scripted, LOL!

    • Hi Julia!

      I LOVED the way you put this: “God had happy little surprises for you tucked away in Leavenworth!” That is certainly true…and I needed some happy little surprises these days! Good for you with the Paint night. I’ve actually never done one, mostly for the same reasons…painting and being artistic in that way is just not my forte! But then again, I didn’t think working with yarn would appeal to me either. Always good to try new things, you never know what skill you may have!

      Thanks so much for sharing this week! Hope you have a great rest of your weekend!

  5. Hi Megan
    I wish I could write a better and deep English to express my real feelings reading this tremendous post !
    It’s such a sensitive one and yes we could have surprises in our moves, sometimes we choose a place and are disapointed as it has changed too much from the place you remember or you waited too much. And here the one you were against brings you a lovely gift and a new skill close to your mother’s one.
    I knitted a lot of things for my eldest daughter as a baby, it’s easier and quicker to knit these tiny things, this “layette” could it be the French word in English, it’s the only word I looked for in the dictionnary and was surprised, so I can really understand how you feel. Congratulations for the result and go on, I’m really happy for you. Michèle

    • Hi Michèle,

      I wanted to be sure I dropped you a note this weekend to let you know that my family and I are praying for you and your Nation. Honestly, when I heard of the news, you were one of my first thoughts. I don’t know anyone in France but you, and even though we don’t know each other personally…this blog has brought our two worlds together. I am relieved to know you are safe, but I also am sure your heart is confused, hurt, sad, and aching. Know you have a friend here, miles and miles away, standing beside you!


      • A huge thank you for such a comforting note. Your so nice words touch deep in my heart. It’s so nice to know even miles and miles away you do understand exactly what I feel. Yes all of my feelings are confused and even if I stayed until nearly 2 am watching TV and seing the events, I only really realized a day after, it seemed so unbelievable. My two daughters, the one who lives in Paris and her sister visiting her this very day were safe, my friends there too. I had a heavy sigh of relief and I could think of all these families mourning. Once again thank you so much, have a nice Sunday with your family. Love. Michèle

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