It all starts with a chain.

So began my first crochet lesson one Sunday afternoon in January, 1998. At the time I was in my late thirties. I had two adolescent sons and a four-month-old baby. My father had died three months earlier. Obviously, I needed more to do.

Armed with a “free” plastic H-hook I had driven 9 miles to get at a JoAnn Fabric give away, a ball of bright, green acrylic yarn and a used copy of Better Homes and Gardens Crocheting & Knitting, I sat at my friend Edith’s kitchen table, a meatloaf sandwich in front of me. Apparently crochet was more arduous than I had imagined, and the crochet lesson would not begin until I had eaten the lunch she had prepared for me.

These pre-crochet lesson lunches are how I came to know more about Edith. I learned how she and her husband had moved to Northern California because the air in Los Angeles further compromised his already compromised health, I learned how she had two sons, I learned how one of them died as a child from a brain tumor, I learned that one of the lamps in her living room was from a lamp manufacturing enterprise she and her husband had operated. I also got a copy of her meatloaf recipe.

Having finally eaten enough to please Edith and declared the meatloaf sandwich the best I had ever had, we moved to the living area of her apartment, and she began to instruct me on the finer points of crochet: how to make a slip knot, how to make a chain, and how to complete a single crochet stitch. I was a little taken aback at all that I had to learn as I had in mind for my first project the afghan on the cover of the book I had brought with me. The afghan in question featured nine different granny square motifs. That afternoon, I learned that the business of crochet encompassed more than I had realized.

Many Sunday afternoons have come and gone since my first crochet lesson, and I have yet to finish that afghan I started so many years ago.