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Archive for the ‘Crochet’ Category

I’ve been crocheting a good deal lately. One little project is this ghost and jack o’lantern.

photograph copyright by Amanda Gamble 2012.

I had the idea of phtographing it in a mirror and Amanda, my niece, did so using the vanity mirror in what was Mom’s room. In my vision the ghost and jack o’lantern are horrified when they spot themselves in an antique mirror with a massive gilt frame, and this is a reaction shot. Unfortunately I don’t have such a mirror, but I still think they’re cuter’n poop.

🙂

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A Little Something for Mom

photo by Amanda Gamble copyright 2011

We haven’t hung anything on our front door at Christmas in donkey’s years.

This year, though, I got ambitious after finding a Christmas stocking consisting of crocheted granny squares in the November 29, 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.

This is the end result. I used a different granny pattern than what’s in the magazine, substituting a Neverending Granny for their square. The colors are Red Heart Ranch Red, Soft White and Medium Thyme, with a bit of a Victorian Christmas Gold metallic thrown in for bling.

Mom’s reaction, when she saw the finished product, is one I’ll treasure: without hesitation, she said, “That’s my Christmas present.”

🙂

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When Joe lost his job on the railroad that year–through no fault of his own–and our first little one was born dead, I was just about past pickin’ myself up and goin’ on with life. But Joe insisted that everything would be all right; we’d go back to his home in the mountains. His mama and daddy always had a big garden, back in a black-dirt corner of their property, and best of all there was a cabin, the one where they’d started out married, that we could fix up and make a home in.

I was too sick and weak to dispute him, and so we arrived in that little community called Citico just before winter. Now sure enough, his mama had plenty of food canned for the winter, from sausages to green beans and tomatoes, and his daddy had killed a beef and a couple of hogs and had a full smokehouse.

What Joe didn’t tell me was that the cabin was in pretty bad shape, and he hadn’t warned his daddy we was comin’.

It didn’t have but two rooms: one for a kitchen, with a big old cast iron woodburnin’ stove, and the other for a bedroom, separated from the kitchen with a thin curtain of unbleached domestic.

There was no heat whatever in that bedroom. We tried, once the winter set in hard, to keep at least a bed of coals in the cookstove, but that worried me; I was afraid of the chimney catchin’ fire or somethin’.

And the wind blew through those cracks in the walls, always a cold wind from the north; and when the snows came, they blew in too.

I had low blood still, havin’ lost a lot when the baby was born, and although Joe’s mama give us quilts and Joe held me tight when I cried from the cold, I still couldn’t seem to get warm.

The only place I could warm through to my bones was right by the kitchen stove, but a body cain’t cook all the time, and the room weren’t big enough to move the bed in there. Joe did, when he saw I felt better near the stove, brought a rockin’ chair over from his mama’s and set it there for me.

But still, come bedtime, I was cold.

One night, deep in the night, I woke out of a restless sleep to hear somethin’ odd.

The rockin’ chair was rockin’.

But Joe was beside me asleep.

I raised up a little so I could see into the kitchen. The moon was full that night, and it shone in enough between the cracks in the walls that I could see somebody a-settin’ in that chair, rockin’. It was an older lady, and I could see she had beautiful white hair and pink cheeks and pale eyes.

She was doin’ somethin’ with her hands. After a minute or two, I could see by the glint off the hook that she was crochetin’, what looked like little tiny squares, one after the other, with a speed that surprised me. As she finished each one, she was layin’ it in a basket next to her chair.

Once, I fancied, she seemed to notice I was watchin’ her, because she looked toward the bedroom and smiled.

I must have drifted back off to sleep after that, because when I woke Joe was already up, makin’ up a fire–he was good that way–and singin’ to himself, as he always did of a mornin’.

“Hey,” he said suddenly, “where in tarnation–”

By then I was up and crossin’ that cold floor in my bare feet, with a quilt around my shoulders. “What is it, honey?” I asked.

“Where’d this come from?”

He was holdin’ a basket–about a half-bushel basket, I’d say–and in it was stacked twenty or more crocheted squares; they all had middles in different colors, some solids and some mixed, and all of them edged around in black.

“If I didn’t know better,” he said, “I’d swan to goodness that my granny made these.”

“Your granny?”

“Daddy’s mama,” he said. “She used to make afghans out of squares like this. She’s been gone since I was a kid, though.”

Well, I didn’ tell him what I’d seen the night before, and he was worried I’d catch cold, so he busied himself with the fire and I got dressed and began the day.

And, ever night for the next two or three weeks, I’d wake up in the chime hours and hear the chair rockin’, and I’d raise up and there was Granny. By the end of the second week, she was beginnin’ to stitch them squares together.

And then, one night in late in January, with snow on the ground and more comin’ down, and me covered in quilts and with Joe’s arms around me and I still couldn’t sleep for the cold, Granny stopped work.

I heard the chair stop rockin’, and the thought flashed through my head,Oh, Granny, no! Please don’t go! I’d got so used to hearin’ her that I’d miss the rockin’ and the sight of her white hair and her smile, and her little hands workin’ away in the night.

But Granny stood up and shook out this big, finished afghan. This time–the only time–there was a glow around her, like the light was comin’ from Granny and the afghan herself, and I could see every little square, and all the colors, set together like she meant them to be.

And, while Joe slept away by me, Granny walked over to my side, and for the first and only time she spoke to me.

“This is for you,” she said.

And, gently, gently, she spread that afghan out over the bed, tuckin’ it around me. In wonder, I slipped my hand out from under the quilts and touched it. I felt the roughness and weight of wool under my touch. It was heavy. And oh, it was warm.

I looked up at Granny. I tried to say thank you, but suddenly I was in tears.

Granny smiled like she knowed what I was tryin’ to say. She said, “You keep this, always. There’ll be more cold winters ahead. Sleep warm, now.”

And slowly the light faded, and Granny was gone.

I told Joe, come mornin’, what had happened. He didn’ have no choice but to believe me, seein’ that the afghan was there and neither me nor his mama could crochet, but he was a bit leery about it for awhile.

I still have that afghan. Its colors are faded now, and there’s holes wore through it. But it kept me–and later, the babies Joe and I had together–warm through many a winter, just like Granny said.

I wouldn’t part with it for the world.

Many thanks to my friend Sharon (aka Aunt Ornery) for asking, “Why not write about a ghost who crochets?”

This story is based very loosely on a story of a winter when my mom and my paternal grandmother boarded and taught school at Citico, in the mountains in southern Monroe County, Tennessee. As I was reading it to Mom, she kept protesting “It wasn’t that bad!”

But my Gran–very much alive then–did sit by a stove in a three room cabin that winter, crocheting a big afghan, in many colored squares edged in black, wool and heavy and warm. She even finished it with fringe, and when it was done she brought it and put it on Mom’s bed.

It kept Mom warm that winter, and me and my brother and sister later on.

It’s worn and has a few holes in it now, and even if I hadn’t eventually developed an allergy to wool I couldn’t fix it; I can’t make Gran’s meticulous stitches and those colors and wools are no longer available. I’ve looked.

It’s packed in a box now.

I wouldn’t part with it for anything in the world. 🙂

Copyright 2011 by Faire Lewis.

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RED ALERT for Share a Square

I’ve blogged before about my friends in the Share a Square project. Headed up by Shelly Tucker, participants crochet 6″ x 6″ squares to be made into afghans, which are distributed to kids and their siblings who attend Camp Quality camps for those with childhood cancers.

Shelly was hoping to have enough squares by August 26 to put together fifty “kits” of eighty squares each; the squares will then be sewn or crocheted together by volunteers and, around next June, Shel will distribute them to the camps.

Many people have donated, and others have squares either in the mail or ready to mail, but Shel says she’s still about 1500 squares short.

To make fifty kits, she needs squares from eighty individuals per kit.

I’ve already mailed a full fifty, so I can’t send more during this go-round. However, I can put out an appeal to my readers. If you crochet yourself, please consider making a few squares–even one or two would be very welcome!!! and sending them to Shel. If you don’t crochet, but have friends who do, please pass the idea on to them. It’s in a great cause. The kids at the camps love getting these afghans with their many colored squares!

For more information about this project of love and hope, check out Share a Square FAQ. Or check out Share a Square’s Facebook page, or Ravelry’s Facebook page.

Come share in the joy, the fun, and the love that goes into this project!

UPDATE!! As of February 10, 2012, Shelly has received enough squares to complete 150 afghans for this project, and has requested that no more squares be sent.

She also has told those who participated that this will be the final Share a Square project. She hopes, though, that all of us will continue to support local efforts with our crochet work.

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With Every Stitch, a Prayer

As a frequent lurker and occasional contributor at Craig Crawford’s Trail Mix blog, I’ve been following the progress of a brain cancer patient, journalist and blogger Sean Holton. After a period of time when chemotherapy and radiation were holding the cancer at bay, word has come that Sean’s cancer is growing again.

I’m not much of a good hand at prayer. I believe in a spirit of Infinite Good, which I call God for shorthand, but some days it seems my prayers are making their way to that Good and other days it seems they stick somewhere between my voice and the ceiling.

Today is one of those latter days.

Then I remembered something a Methodist minister once told me: that even the most innocuous activities can be prayer; our mere act of breathing can be prayerful. (I cannot remember, now, where he said that particular definition of prayer comes from, but it stuck with me.)

I’m involved in a project called Share a Square. The heart project of my friend Shelly Tucker, Share a Square is a group of crocheters making squares for afghans that will be stitched together and ultimately distributed to kids at camps who suffer from cancer.

Shelly is presently, with a group of willing hands, engaged in stitching afghans together; others of us are already crocheting squares for the next Share a Square project, which will begin in August.

It occurs to me that, if every breath is a prayer, so can every stitch be. And so today, as I stitch, every one will be a prayer of hope–for the campers, and for Sean.

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Music to Crochet To: Marco Polo

True story: I fell in love with Loreena McKennitt’s music before I ever heard it.

In the autumn of 1997, best I can remember, her CD The Book of Secrets was reviewed in People magazine’s music section. Specific mention was made of two songs, one about a seventh century Irish monk (I know now that piece was “Skellig”) and another about “a pair of doomed lovers” (“The Highwayman”).

I filed that review away in some deep chamber of my brain as something that might prove interesting. A week or so later I was in a Camelot music store–alas, long gone–in Maryville’s Foothills Mall looking for music by Clannad. The store’s manager and I got into a long conversation about music, during the course of which he asked if I had ever heard Loreena McKennitt. I told him I’d read about her but never heard her; he put The Book of Secrets on the speaker system. The first song that played was “Prologue”. No matter. I was hooked for life.

I have to confess, about “Marco Polo”, that I’m never quite sure whether it’s good crochet music or whether, for that five minutes or so, I shouldn’t toss the crochet aside and just dance. 😉

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High temps.

Humidity.

Hormones.

Dreams that won’t come true in this lifetime.

I would not know where to start making them come true: publishing a book, singing with Miss Emmylou or Tim O’Brien.

In short, I am one crotchety knobite this PM.

But crochet helps: the twists and loops keep the Devil from getting too great a hold on my idle hands.

And I’ve got a secret weapon of sorts: I got Faron singin’ to me.

This song, written by country singer Jeannie Seely, was a number nine hit for Faron in 1971.

Oh, yeah. The crotchets ache less now. 🙂 😉

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