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At the start of the Covid pandemic, when everything – especially keeping in touch with family and friends and staying engaged (or distracted) with the news cycle – seemed to involve either watching your own reflection on Zoom or from scrolling through woe-laden social media feeds, I badly needed a project to focus on; ideally, something that didn’t involve me holding my phone in a claw-like grip and could give me a sense of accomplishment totally separate from my work.

Finally able to visit my family home once the restrictions eased a bit this summer, I enlisted my mother (one of those people who never does anything Something) to teach me how to crochet. After learning how to do a few simple stitches, I quickly got into a colorful striped blanket.

August was a good time to start a project like this, my mom explained to me, because by the time fall came, I would have made enough blanket to keep me warm while I sat crocheting. I wasn’t entirely convinced that I would hold on long enough for this to happen: the old pandemic pastimes, from the cliché (making the obligatory banana bread) to the more obscure (trying to learn Danish under the watchful eye of the Duolingo owl) had faded quickly. But there was something about the repetitive motions, the satisfaction of watching the stitches grow, and the sheer focus it required that kept me going.