Yarn Yoda and the Force

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

I don’t know whether my grandson Henry, at age five, can quote Yoda’s advice to Luke Skywalker from The Empire Strikes Back. Chances are he can.

I assume this because long, long ago, in a theatre far, far away, I remember watching Henry’s father watching the original Star Wars movie when he was about a year younger than Henry is now. He didn’t fidget; he didn’t talk; he didn’t get drowsy even though he had just finished a huge Thanksgiving dinner. He sat enraptured through the whole film, meanwhile munching his way steadily through a big bag of popcorn that he should not possibly have had room for.

Here and now, in this galaxy, Star Wars has come around again. This means a whole new universe of toy light sabers, action figures, and other galactic merchandise.

Including Yarn Yoda. He appeared at our family Christmas gathering this year. One of our traditions is exchanging small anonymous gag gifts, which this year had to begin with “Y”. Henry was the one who got stuck with—er, who was delighted to receive Yarn Yoda. He also pointed out that his gift started with two “Y’s”. Actually, it was more like three “Y’s”, if you cared to count the one in “Do It Yourself.”

Because this Yoda was a kit, complete with green and brown yarn, a little bag of stuffing, black plastic safety eyes, and detailed instructions to create a three-inch version of the venerable Jedi knight in crochet.

Henry might wield a mean light saber, but he doesn’t know how to crochet. Neither, despite a formidable array of other skills, do his parents. Both of them did express their willingness to try, and with the Force and YouTube videos with them I’m sure they could have figured it out. Still, a tiny three-dimensional figure isn’t the best project for someone just learning to crochet. Especially when—cliché or not—there’s a grandma around who already knows how.

Given the rustiness of my skills, I didn’t quite share Henry’s confidence when he assured me that turning a handful of yarn into a Jedi “would only take a couple of seconds. You just have to make a ball.” Or as it might have been phrased in another galaxy: “Do. There is no try.”

He was eventually persuaded that I would crochet Yoda and send him, if not quite at warp speed at least by priority mail. So Yarn Yoda, or at least his potential, went home with me.

Never mind the details. Let’s just stipulate for the record that it takes a little longer than a couple of seconds to crochet a Yoda. However—in a new personal best speed record for the actual completion of a craft project—I finished him, right down to his toenails, on New Year’s Eve. (What that says about my exciting social life is not something we need to go into here.)

Admittedly, critical observers might point out that his ears are askew. Even non-critical observers might notice that his smile is more uneven than enigmatic. But he does stand up. He even bears a gratifying, if surprising, resemblance to the pattern.

Whether the Force can be with a tiny Yoda made crookedly out of yarn might be open to debate. Or maybe not. After all, what Yarn Yoda really is—and what he would also have been if Henry’s parents had made him—is a perfect example of something that we wouldn’t even consider doing for money or for fun, but that we’re glad to do for love. The Force doesn’t get much stronger than that.

Though I do hope Henry has forgotten two little details: That the booklet in Yoda’s kit also included instructions to crochet Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a Stormtrooper. And that my other “Y” gift was a bag of yarn.

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