I don’t know if you’ve worked it out by now, but I’m a bit of a crochet nut. And I’m at my nuttiest when making gifts for friends and family. There is a part of me that will not rest until every person I care about owns something that I made for them. I think it might be something primal. Like I’m marking my territory or something. When I get it right and the gift is well-received, it is exhilarating. But when I get it wrong, it is mortifying.
Anyway, for a long while now I’ve been wanting to make a frog for my friend Strider. Strider has been my friend for around eighteen years now, and along with his obsession with all things Tolkein, he is also deeply interested in conservation and other environmental issues and has a great love of green tree frogs.
Recently (no, not recently, this post has been in my drafts pile for a few months now, but let’s pretend), Strider had a small birthday party, a strictly ‘no presents’ affair. I like when friends have ‘no presents’ parties. It means I can give something hand-made without any pressure for it to be good.
So anyway, I made this:
I couldn’t find a pattern I really liked (I have no time to be sewing bits together or faffing about with pipecleaners), so I designed one myself. It took a bit of experimentation, but I got there in the end. I must give credit, however, to Lucy Ravenscar: I was very much inspired by the techniques she used with her bazaar animals in putting this together. I couldn’t help but feel rather chuffed with how it worked out.
When I got to Strider’s house (‘Gondor’?) , I waited until I had come inside and our respective children had finished exclaiming over each other, before presenting my gift. Strider smiled and thanked me politely. He did not, however do any of the following:
- Jump up and down making high-pitched squeally noises;
- Accost everybody who arrives at the party brandishing said frog and exclaiming, “look what Kate made!”
- Ask for a full report on what yarn I used, what size hook, stitches, pattern – wait, what? You mean to say THIS IS AN ORIGINAL DESIGN?
- Ask how it came to pass that his friend Kate got to be so brilliant as to design her own frog;
- Place the frog in a prominent position, where guests can use it as a conversation piece and talk all about me and my epic skills.
In fact, he put the frog away, where nobody could see it. How was I supposed to show off now?
But I was not defeated. I turned a few strategies over in my mind. Strider’s sister-in-law is nice and loud. Perhaps I could get her to broadcast the news of my triumph? So I sought her out and gave my orders.
“You must ask your brother-in-law to show you what I made him!”
So Strider’s sister-in-law (“Galadriel”? I don’t know…) dutifully sought out the host of the party and asked to see the frog. She got a look at it, but didn’t take it out of its hiding place. Then she came back to tell me how great she thought it was. Nobody overheard. The frog remained hidden.
But now, I knew the where the frog was hidden. It was in the kitchen. I decided it was time to get myself a drink. Then I decided the frog was exactly where I wanted to put the bottle of mineral water. so I moved it to the other side of the bench, where it would be out of my way and, incidentally, more visible to anyone who happened by. Then I stationed myself next to the bench so I could answer any questions (“Whence came this miraculous creation?”).
But nobody asked any. And then I had to go home.
I had almost got over it a couple of days later when I met up with Strider’s family again for a church group picnic. “Now, Kate,” I told myself sternly, “you made that frog as a present to your friend, not to your ego. You really must get over this need to be in the centre of attention at all times!”. I arrived at the picnic determined to listen to others and not dominate and give other people the opportunity to get a word in edgewise. It was as I was listening (with all my might) to a new friend as she told me about her work designing jewellery and selling it online, that Strider broke in.
“You should sell your work online too, Kate. That frog you made me is just brilliant. Tell us all about it”
Oh, well. I suppose I could manage that. If I must.