Kim Werker is a master of crochet, an advocate for community-building, and an accomplished author. Her new book, Crocheted Gifts: Irresitable Projects to Make and Give, was released last month. I recently caught up with Kim to talk about her favorite craft medium: yarn.
When did you start working with yarn, and what was the first yarn project that you completed?
I first started working with yarn when I was in my third year of university and my dorm director’s wife taught me how to crochet (for the second time - I’d learned the first time when I was in high school, but that was for a thread project, so not as cozy). I picked up a giant batch of this hideous variegated acrylic yarn and started in on a huge blanket. I didn’t get very far. I think the first yarn project I actually completed was a felted knitted bag I made in the class I took to learn how to knit when I was in my mid-20s.
Why did you gravitate to yarn as opposed to other craft materials?
You know, I’ve never even thought about this. It’s just the way it is. When a friend mentioned that knitting class when I was 26 and had just moved to Vancouver, my ears pricked up and I nearly pounced on her (literally) for more info. Now that crafting is such an important part of my life, I do find I’m drawn to other types of materials, too. I’m digging embroidering, and I learned how to make beaded earrings a couple of weeks ago. I was surprised by how meditative and fun that was (and gratifying! I had a pair done in just one evening).
I enjoy the practical side to yarn crafts - I like that I can make clothes and blankets and toques and scarves. And I think it’s the practicality of it that leads to my love of doll-making. Dolls - at least the kinds I make - are totally absurd and impractical. Their only purpose is to make me happy, and hopefully they make other people happy too.
What is your family’s history with yarn (mom, grandmother, etc.)?
After I started knitting avidly, my mom took an interest in it. One day when she was visiting us with my grandmother, we sat down and quickly realized she already knew how to knit (a clue: after I made her cast on, pull it out and cast on again about a hundred times, she started knitting continental style, and I knit English. After that, it was the quickest lesson ever). Turns out she’d learned when she was in high school. That wee reminder all she needed; she’s spent the last few years knitting her heart out. My grandmother used to crochet a lot. Arthritis prevents her from working much with her hands now, but for a while after that visit she got back into it, too. So amongst the women in my family, it’s been a reverse of the expected generational passing-down of yarn craft; with us it’s sort of passed up.
How do you feel when you are working with yarn?
I feel like I’m home, you know? Like no matter where I am, I’m grounded. Like I not only have something to keep myself busy, and something to create, but also something that’s useful - and specifically something useful (well, or not that useful) that can be used to create great whimsy and therefore great fun and joy.
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