Crochet team advances to Final Four past UCSB

Kara Christensen

Kara Christensen

SDSU’s NCC championship crochet team are resting up for next Wednesday’s Final Four match in the crochet capitol of the world, Yarntown, Miss., against UCLA.

SDSU’s team caught a snag during last Saturday’s Elite Eight match against the University of California at Santa Barbara when teammate Lucy Jacobsen ran out of blue yarn during the afghan competition.

Luckily, her teammate Susie Cutchen had brought an extra ball of yarn in each color.

“I never leave home without them,” Cutchen said. “You just never know how much one ball will crochet.”

The three members of SDSU’s team crocheted individual strips and then sewed them together to create a blue and yellow “Back the Jacks” afghan in a record seven-hours and 14-minutes. They beat UCSB by ten minutes.

“You win some, you lose some,” Melinda Zink of UCSB said. “You can bet I’ll be doing extra finger exercises for next year.”

SDSU’s crochet team coach Dr. Laticia Flamingo was pleased with the team’s performance.

“The extra hours the team put in watching classic crocheting instructional videos like ‘Hooking for Success’ really paid off,” she said. “Their dedication to making this one of SDSU’s most successful crochet seasons ever was a privilege to observe. I’m proud to be their coach.”

In the open competition, team members brought pre-crocheted items for individual judging. Entries are judged for creativity, practicality and craftsmanship.

Thanks to the impracticality of the UCSB’s crocheted bikinis, SDSU snuck through another loophole to win the match.

Jacobsen’s purple and turquoise scarf took top honors.

“My grandma is going to love wearing this during our cold South Dakota winters. It’ll really bring out her eyes,” Jacobsen said.

Cutchen’s crocheted handbags fared well until judges asked a mother of four in the audience to transfer the contents of her purse into the handbag.

“I should have put a cloth lining inside for durability,” Cutchen said. “But it won’t help to be all tied up in knots. I’m just glad Lucy’s scarf did so well.”

Johnnie Rice, the token male of the team, rounded out SDSU’s entries in the open competition with his unique, though also impractical, pop can warmer.

Judges were impressed by Rice’s creativity, since the can warmer contained a hodge-podge of yarn knobs, and even a random piece of red yarn.

However, when Judge Ryan Schroeder playfully tugged on the red yarn, the can warmer unraveled before the astonished crowd.

“Whatev. I don’t even care,” Rice said. “It’s not like I actually know how to crochet. I just joined to meet chicks.”

Judging by the glares Rice received from his teammates during the competition, his plan has not worked.

Flamingo, a fiber arts professor, said this isn’t the first time she’s dealt with a pathetic attempt to meet women disguised as a genuine interest in crocheting.

“Johnnie’s not-so-carefully hatched plan ended up biting him in the butt. It’s just a shame he had to embarrass the rest of the team in the process,” Flamingo said. “I wish him good luck in courting any of the young ladies after this farce.”

Disinterested teammates aren’t the only challenges the team regularly faces. They’re constantly confronted with ignorance of their artistic discipline.

“Some people just don’t understand the craft of crochet. You know, like those people who mistake it for knitting. We use one hook, people! Knitters use two needles,” Cutchen said. “I mean, come on, get a clue. And Johnnie, well, let’s not go there.”

Rice’s entry was disqualified, but his teammates vow he will learn how to make a basic potholder before next week.

UCLA, an obvious powerhouse in the yarning arts, will be a tough match for SDSU on Wednesday in the afghan competition, though the Jacks crocheters are upbeat.

“Even if we lose, you hear some great yarns when everyone’s working away. Oops,” Jacobson said with a giggle. “No pun intended.”

The winner will go on to face the University of Wisconsin or New York University.

The National Crochet Championship match is Saturday afternoon. The live broadcast begins at 10 a.m. Eastern time on the Home and Garden channel.