Personal Notes

Crochet Genetics

WHOA! The title of the article somehow reflected something heavy would be the subject here today. ūüėÄ What does Crochet Genetics will reveal to me? How does¬†crochet will relate itself to genetics?

Well… This is a story I want to share — just because I think it’s awesome that it had happened to me. You already knew¬†the story of when I started crocheting, why I like it, and what style I like in crocheting, and blablablablabla…. #boring. I also joined Ravelry some years ago and really liking it as my personal library of patterns and inspirations. I joined some groups there, but rarely active in conversation and discussion. Most of the times, Indonesian groups are just half dead. And then my life in Ravelry changed with just one sentence: “…could we be related?”


Who Do You Think You Are? 

Who’s this girl? Her name is Tessa and she definitely was not in my friends list, I have never met her before, nor did her name ring a bell to my ears. I¬†knew immediately I have to find out more. So I sent her a private message. Some messages exchanged, some partial information about her family and my family spilled, but still no clue. Most unusual, she lives in New Zealand. I hardly knew ANYone in New Zealand, other than some old bioarchaeology colleagues working in Otago and that’s all my connection to New Zealand.¬†I know there are thousands of people with the Tjitrosoman family name —¬†we’re very dispersed that way. Hahaha. So I figured, I must leave a door open for this possibility. She was as excited as I was about this possibility of family relation. She told me she started asking her mom about her Tjitrosoman side of the family. I asked around to my aunts and uncles, and dad. No luck. So, I stopped¬†my search here for a while.

In the meantime, I do enjoy genealogy research —¬†and I blame Who Do You Think You Are series. Started watching them on BBC One. During the series, I usually curse on how poor Indonesian records are — and how inaccessible they are — so we cannot do research actively and so on and so forth. And then¬†an idea hit me. I know my dad kept one roll of family tree carton somewhere in the house. I figured, if I start my research, maybe I will know and find out who this¬†girl is… Half-imagining that I am those researchers in WDYTYA series, I talked to my dad about the scroll,¬†he said I could¬†borrow the scroll and I was off to do my research. Apparently my dad has some extra documents companying the scroll, which I also grabbed and read excessively.

Those olden-day¬†handwritings, Dutch style cursive writing hurt my eyes after two hours¬†reading. The clues that I was holding on to were the names that Tessa gave me — and the names I have from my side of the family. I traced my patrilineal lines, and found no connection to Tessa’s matrilineal lines. Shucks. I spent six hours on that day with no success. Documents after documents and scrolls and even Old Javanese monarch¬†genealogy did not show any relation. I was almost sure I would send a message to Tessa that I failed finding out who we are and how we are related. Maybe in the end we’re just two strangers who love crocheting and fiber art so much.¬†

One more clue that I held on to dearly was the fact that Tessa’s mom was married to a New Zealander — which is a rare occurrence in my family to marry to a foreigner. So I thought I should be able to spot his name immediately — because his name would absolutely be too different than the other Javanese names in the documents. Poor font choices on the documents made me stop my search for a bit and played some games on Facebook.

About twenty minutes into game-playing mode, my eyes gazed on to one of the documents and — low and behold!! — I saw three names, which are Tessa’s great-grandmother’s sisters inside one of the documents. I quit my games, and restarted the research to read more on those names. Only three lines of information covering them, but I did found their father’s name (Tessa’s great-great-grandfather) and his father’s name (Tessa’s great-great-great-grandfather). Whoaaa….. search is ON!¬†I scrambled through the¬†other documents and there¬†was one booklet, with the family name printed in large font on the cover. The booklet is Tessa’s family history.

And I was like, “…crap! Tessa has a book for herself!!! Where’s mine?!” — Now my question shifted to “Who am I?” instead of “How Tessa and I were related?” Spending more than 10 years in archaeology I do realise that research question may vary and change during or after the research is being done. So, what the heck. I have to do a thorough mini research.¬†I have yet to include any historical data into the research – meticulously, but I thought I can discover where Tessa and I crossed our paths within the family by making a SUPER HUMONGOUSLY(!) HUGE family tree. I have enough¬†documents to start, anyways.

Since any genealogical software is not fully free and printable, I decided to start from scratch with Adobe InDesign — not Illustrator, because I HATE ILLUSTRATOR for no reason. I spent one and a half day reading, arranging relationships, deciding which person in the family can be considered important enough to connect me and Tessa — and I came up with THIS:

Just to make that small portion of the family, it took me serious hours of studying and reading. It’s crazy, but fun! I also realise that there are people who weren’t supposed to be there – in a way that it would make the tree “complicated” and incomprehensible. But hey, it’s a practice sheet. I am yet to be a genealogist. LOL. Oh, no, Dee!!! Another unimportant and uncool and unpaid type of profession beside archaeologist IS genealogist! Haven’t you learned enough!?

Hooked on Genealogy

I am sooooooooo hooked on using this method to learn about people — I did not stop making my own family tree. British history has always been my most favourite¬†subject. I really want to memorise everything outside my head. So, I ended up browsing through the history of Scandinavian, Irish, Scottish, English, Spanish, Italian, and French lines to make this:

It’s soooooooo fun — I love internet research. Internet does make my life much much easier to study. Yeah, I did a little design trial at the very bottom where Marie Antoinette’s line ended. I am still¬†learning French history now, making the family tree — started with Louis XVII at the bottom and also Napoleon Bonaparte’s line as well. No, my method of learning must not be the only one or that I have invented it. Somebody else might have already done it as well. LOL. It’s the comfort of having every information in a scroll. I noted Battle of Hastings and Battle of Bosworth as turning points in the British history, but apparently, the lineage could¬†go further to French monarchs. It ain’t my fault. ūüėõ

Of course I was introduced to the world of DNA stuff when I was still an archaeologist. Wanted to study it but it’s too expensive and I haven’t got any pennies left in my pocket. I remembered studying the basics of palaeodemography, which pretty much is the census of dead people. Loved it. I remember having to measure skulls and whatnot to find morphological features that correspond with the assigned genetic traits on some dead population, soooo fun. I also remember what’s not fun about it is to insert all the info into SPSS and run some statistical tests on the data. HAHAHA. The teacher was too handsome for me to stay in focus, I kept raising my hands for questions. And yes, I nearly flunked my stats class.


Based on my “genealogy chart”, Tessa and I are distant cousins, originating from different stems of Tjitrosoman. But, we do share the same 7 times-grandfather, with intermingling lines from my dad’s matrilineal side. I don’t know yet how to calculate how many times Tessa and I are cousins removed. That’s something I still have to learn.¬†Genealogy is fun — I ranted too much in the previous section that I diverted from the original¬†main idea. (My other bad habit, so mbak Inge would thought) My dad decided to tell some of his cousins about my findings and relation to Tessa’s side of the family — and one¬†of them said that it is no wonder if I have irrational urges and interest to fiber art and needleworks. Because there are people living in the past — members of the Tjitrosomans —¬†also¬†intentionally entangled themselves in needleworks, especially crochet. SO FUN. Similar to archaeology, crochet is also in my DNA.¬†Niiiice…. ūüôā

I believe Tessa and I would like to thank Ravelry for somehow bringing us closer, knowing that we have a piece of the same DNA on the other side of the world. Apparently, there are plenty of things that Ravelry can offer you more than crochet/knitting patterns and friends. If it weren’t for Ravelry, I wouldn’t sign up with that family name, and I wouldn’t have met Tessa — whom I am now a good friends with. So, thank you Ravelry! ūüôā Do join Ravelry, who knows you’ll meet your long lost family members too. ūüôā


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