My college sophomore daughter, Eva, was home for the holidays. We don’t have a TV, we live in the country, her friends were scattered across the state, and there’s only so much Twitter and such a person can do before petrification sets in.
“Mom, I want to crochet,” she said.
Was it my imagination, or did a choir of angels sing “Hallelujah” at that moment? Could be…her words were definitely music to my ears.
She chose some lovely Berroco Remix yarn (blended from 100% recycled fibers). I showed her the basic idea of a raglan sweater from the top down. She got to work.
With only one minor redesign and a minimum of ripping out and recrocheting, Eva completed a sweater for her stuffed kitty.
But one sweater was not enough. Eva crocheted a cell model. You can tell this is an animal cell model, because it has a cell membrane (blue). The nucleus has a pale green membrane and the red squiggles inside are genetic material. The green ovals are vacuoles and the red oval is a mitochondrion, powerhouse of the cell. The Golgi apparatus is yellow and the endoplasmic reticulum is squiggly and blue. Note that it has no bumps on it, therefore it is smooth endoplasmic reticulum.
This episode reminded me of a long, interesting, and sometimes saddening article I read in the New York Times a while ago (“Why are There Still so Few Women in Science?”) Author Eileen Pollack, a novelist and creative writing professor at University of Michigan, spoke to astrophysicist Meg Urry of Yale University, who had this to say about crafting:
“I’m soldering things, and I’m thinking, Hey, I’m really good at this. I know the principles. It’s like an art. It took me years to realize I’m actually good with my hands. I have all these small-motor skills from all the years I spent sewing, knitting and designing things. We should tell young women, ‘That stuff actually prepares you for working in a lab.’”
Yes, let’s tell this to our crafting daughters and sons! It’s another of the many benefits of “sewing, knitting, and designing things.”
I laughed ruefully after reading Professor Urry’s assertion that “Women need more positive reinforcement, and men need more negative reinforcement. Men wildly overestimate their learning abilities, their earning abilities. Women say, ‘Oh, I’m not good, I won’t earn much, whatever you want to give me is O.K.’”
Why ruefully? Because when I was a biology major, oh so long ago, I was exactly the woman she was talking about.
The crocheted cell model opened doors for Eva. She emailed a photo of it to her last semester’s biology professor. A week later the professor invited her and a few other former students to lead review sessions for the same biology class this semester. No pay, but the professor promised glowing letters of recommendation. “I think it also helped that my friend and I went to her class last Halloween, dressed up as NAD and NADH molecules,” said Eva.