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Guest Blogger: Liza from Gabli Musings

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
I met Liza when I was a volunteer at a community clinic where she worked as the social worker. I admired her spunk and her professional knowledge which always guided her to remain calm in the face of tragic situations. Even though the work we did was serious, we still managed to have fun, share a laugh and our interest in crochet. The clinic closed in 2008, but we’ve kept in touch.  Liza has a passionate story to share with you. Reading it had me in tears. How will you react?

An admirer and pupil of the Crochet Kween, I count Gwen as one of three women, including my mother and mother-in-law, that I thank for my obsession with crochet.

At the age of ten, my mother taught me how to crochet an afghan, and single crochet was the only stitch I understood well for several years! My father made me my first metal hook because I was forever losing my mother’s priceless hooks. The hook’s groove was not smooth and it would catch on the yarn fibers; but it taught me to loosen my grip on the yarn. Life happened and crochet was forgotten. I didn’t pick up crochet again until after I was married and had my first child. 

Earlier this month, I visited my parents in Puerto Rico. When I arrived at the airport, my mother’s hug was tighter than ever and the sobbing was loud enough for other’s to hear! You see, the last time I saw her two years ago I had just been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, had partial loss of vision and could barely move.  Part of my story can be found in Crochet Saved MyLife by Kathryn Vercillo (p. 110), but here is a tidbit so that you can understand where my mother comes in.

During February of 2011, I had begun work on my very first messenger bag.  I wanted to create it using alternating colors. 

Messenger Bag completed by Liza
I am forever a crochet newbie and was excited to prove to my husband that I could create more than just scarves. However, on Valentine’s Day that year I completely lost my vision! Despite the encouragement of family and friends, I felt completely alone, drenched in fear and trapped in darkness. I heard words that struck terror into my heart: lupus and MS, from several doctors.

The first 48 hours of blindness, were the most desperate for me because of the fear, anger and desperation. Everyone that knows me agrees that I never sit still for too long. To busy myself, I created mental lists of things that I had to do and became even angrier when I realized I couldn’t complete the tasks. Slowly my anxiety grew until I could feel my heart racing, my breath short and fast and I was certain I was having a heart attack.  I cried out to God for peace. 

I wasn’t exactly thinking about yarn and hooks when my foot struck my crochet basket at the foot of my sofa.  What I didn’t know at the time was that it was my then 7 year-old daughter who had brought the basket to my side.  It hadn’t occurred to me that I normally kept the basket at the other side of the sofa!  Thank God she did this; that evening, I rediscovered crochet in a whole different way. Crochet kept me busy counting and feeling the stitches. I had no time to feel pity and worry about what was to come.

 When my mother came to visit me a couple of weeks later, my eyesight was greatly improved; but now, I could barely move due to severe swelling of my joints and muscle weakness. Getting up to hug my mother was a difficult task. While she was genuinely concerned, my mother knew that the best medicine for me was to keep me feeling useful. She brought miles of plarn she had made and taught me how to make purses out of plastic bags.

 When she saw that my hands could no longer hold the yarn and hook, she would massage my arms and say “Liza, I am only going to do a couple of rounds here because I am an old woman and don’t have your strength. In a couple of hours your hands will be strong again and you can complete this.”  When she left, my mother made me promise that I would complete the purse. I now know that she was as scared as I was during those weeks of muscle weakness, but she never showed it.  She kept my spirits high using crochet and prayer to calm the anxiety that would creep in when I felt useless.  Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do, I focused on completing my plarn project and, time flew by.

Plarn Purse
This time, when I saw my mother at the airport, I ran to hug her. In between our bodies and around my shoulder hung the very first crocheted plarn purse that we had both worked on. 

While I still have small bouts of muscle weakness and vision issues today, I’m significantly improved. There are days, when I have to slow down and sit.  When those days arrive, I know that I can count on the gift of crochet.  In my crochet basket I keep more than crochet projects: therapeutic compression gloves, eye drops, a heating pad and a small hand held massager for when my hands feel tingly. I crochet in 20-minute intervals and give myself plenty of time to complete projects. I try to crochet at the end of every day as a form of therapeutic debriefing; and this helps me finish projects faster. I work in the mental health field and crochet is my favorite way of self-debriefing.  

I am also switching out my hooks to ergonomically friendly ones.  Because of my eyesight, I use my Kindle to zoom in on patterns and I adjust the brightness as needed.  For the most part, I have learned to crochet by using my fingers as my “eyes;” if not my daughter’s eyes help out. The arms on what my family has dubbed the “crochet chair” are padded and at the right level so that I can rest my arms and have support to crochet.

When I am having a particularly difficult day, the feel of the yarn brings life to my numb fingers and the cold metal hook feels wonderful against my swollen hands. As I crochet, any anxiety and worries are overtaken by the task at hand. The concerns over how much time I have left to complete the thousand things moms have to do in a day are replaced by drawings of patterns, crochet ideas and the business of counting stitches. While my doctors wait to see what this autoimmune disease will eventually develop into, I crochet away. The silver lining here is a beautiful one: While helping me count stitches and overseeing my progress, my 9-year-old daughter learned the crochet basics a couple of years ago without me really teaching her. She is now fully addicted to the craft. My 5 year-old son recently attempted his first chain. And, my tower of strength, the “hubster” as I call him, brings home yarn when he can’t decide on flowers.

Such beautiful eyes!
I am grateful to the women in my life who have taken time to explain a stitch, a method, and a pattern. They haven’t just taught me how to crochet; they have given me a very special gift.

Liza blogs at Gabli Musing.


Taciana Simmons said…
Wow that is such an amazing story. I have been following Gablifor over a year, but didn't know her story... I have loved following her and watching her projects grow. Now I know how special they are for her and those who she makes them to... I feel blessed to "know" her and will pray that this disease will never put her spirit down as she is already a great hero. :)
Thanks for the sharing such a great story.
I'll look for your book. :)

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