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Home : Community : Customer Gallery : Crocheted Memories
 

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Crocheted Memories
Created By: Linda Stewart

CROCHETED MEMORIES



by: Linda Stewart



I am not sure when my love of fiber arts began, but I know it was at a very young age at my mother’s knee. An artist and experienced seamstress, she designed and sewed for a family of six. We were the best dressed kids in school and always proud of our “handmade” dresses. Mom did freeform crochet before it became popular, designing and crocheting items for our dolls, sweaters for her children, and afghans and items for our home. Many a relative was pleasantly surprised and delighted at Christmas or some other holiday to receive a hand-crocheted item from mom and her gifts were opened with excitement. As I think back, I believe her talent is something that helped her open up and come out of her shell. You see, my mother was extremely shy, never one to initiate conversation (except in her own family) and never boastful or overly proud of her accomplishments. I remember the day she picked up a crochet hook and began crocheting a skein of yarn into something beautiful. It was as if magic was taking place right before our very eyes. Looking back, I seem to have forgotten the frustration she must have felt as she ripped out row after row of mistakes and replaced them with the correct stitches. She didn’t know the difference between single, double, and half double crochet to read it in a pattern, but she had a knack for figuring these stitches out on her own and incorporating them into intricate patterns and designs.



“Look!” we would cry happily as we came downstairs on a cold winter morning only to find a finished sweater, complete with animals or some other decoration hanging and ready to wear to school that day. No matter that it bagged a little here and sagged a little there – we were proud and ran off to school to show it to all our friends. Since a lot of our friends had mothers who worked, played bridge, or were on the country club circuit, our mother was a rarity and all our friends were envious. We often brought home a whole entourage after school for fresh baked cookies and milk and proceeded to show off mother’s sewing area and the yarn she had just bought for her next project. When most kids had one or two outfits for their latest doll, we girls had whole wardrobes, including entire layettes crocheted by mothers' loving hand. While many children sported the latest sweaters from our local department store, we children wore “hand designed” sweaters. My little brother had socks and caps and we all had warm mittens to wear outside against the frosty winter weather.



With mom’s flair for color our items were every hue of the rainbow, perfectly matched to each child’s hair and eyes. While our family was not rich by any means, mom sold enough of her hand crocheted items to keep her own children in style.



I played around with crocheting as a girl, but didn’t seem to get the hang of it until I was a young married woman. My mother-in-law, another self-taught crocheter, appointed herself my teacher and guide when I became ready. I respected her immensely because she had raised six children alone, worked full time and taught herself sewing and crochet. My mother-in-law had learned to read patterns, and she was a crocheter extraordinaire. When I first met her I was amazed at all the lovely crocheted items she had in her home. Pineapple doilies, bedspreads and tablecloths were her specialty, and she made them in record time. I became fascinated with the stitches and became an apt and willing pupil. I began learning to crochet in earnest, a stitch book in hand and my mother-in-law to assist me as I learned to read patterns. I spent many happy hours with both my mother and my mother in law, shopping the lovely array of yarns in different colors and textures. From them I learned to appreciate fine yarn and how to interchange yarns for different patterns. I developed my own “eye” for color and began to design my own creations with a good eye to detail. Every time I faltered, either my mom or my mother in law was there to help and guide me.



Both women were elated when I became pregnant with my first child. We all outdid ourselves as we bought baby yarn and crocheted in a frenzy to make sure the new baby was the best-dressed on the planet. When it turned out to be a girl we really went crazy! She never wanted for bonnets and blankets, sweaters and booties. When a little brother came along he was treated just as fairly and sported all the latest patterns in crochet.



As my daughter grew I loved designing clothes for her dolls and approached my mother- in-law about teaching me to crochet with thread. My first project was misshapen and odd, but my daughter loved it. I continued practicing and once I got comfortable with the difference in thread and yarn weight, I couldn’t stop. Everywhere I went I took my crocheting with me. My daughter’s dolls that were the on the best dressed list, as I kept up on all the latest doll fashions. My children (with two grandmas and me crocheting) didn’t want for warm clothes.



My daughter didn’t like needle arts much as a child and I despaired of ever enjoying the hobby with her. Although she learned to sew, it was her brother who learned to knit and crochet. Then, in her mid 20’s, she called me one night in great excitement. “Grandma taught me to make an afghan!” she said breathlessly. “I’m making it for my bed and wait till you see it!” I was elated, and she took to crocheting just like a duck to water, asking either or both of her grandmas for help if I wasn’t around.



Now my daughter is grown and she and I have shared many good times crocheting together. We encourage each other and solve together any problems that arise. I came across a box of old photographs the other day. There was one of my daughter at about age three, red hair aflame in a bright green sweater with little white rabbits all over it that my mother had crocheted. I suddenly realized that I am very lucky – I was surrounded as a child and young woman by unconditional love shown by the simplest acts – creating something for someone by hand. My daughter and I now crochet items for homeless shelters and preemie babies. We design each piece with a special person in mind, my mother, who passed away but never out of our hearts. And know what? When we get stuck and can’t figure out what to do we still call my mother-in-law, now 86, who always has the answer. Family values are what crocheting has taught me through three generations of needlework. I am truly blessed.



 
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