Hexagonal Patchwork

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The women in our family learned to embroider as we learned to write.  Grandmother taught Mother, and Mother taught me.

There were beautiful pillowcases and dresser scarves, table linens and hand towels.  My favorite project was a pair of well-worn jeans, first repaired with embroidery floss and then embellished with free hand embroidery.  As the denim frayed and tore, my ‘repairs’ grew ever more colorful and inventive.

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We sewed, too; and we crocheted.  Grandmother seemed to always have an ‘Afghan’ in progress during her later years.  She claimed it kept her fingers moving properly as arthritis set into her joints.  She made them for each child and grandchild in her large family, often with pillow covers to match.  I cherish a beautifully crocheted lace bedspread she made for me from pure white cotton thread.

Mother learned to knit and made sweaters for us when we were little.  She tried to teach me several times, too, but it didn’t hold my interest as much as a crochet hook and a ball of thread could.   I used to crochet lace, like Grandmother did.  I made delicate snowflakes for the Christmas tree and little clutch hand bags for my friends.

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And I still keep a bag of yarn and thread beside my chair, and a collection of crochet hooks close at hand.

Lately, I decided to master hexagonal crocheted ‘motifs.’  I guess one shouldn’t call them ‘squares’ when they sport six sides, should we?  beyond-the-square

I’ve been using Edie Eckman’s Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs: 144 Circles, Hexagons, Triangles, Squares, and Other Unexpected Shapes for ideas and tutorials on style.  This is an easy to understand, beautifully illustrated guide to the finer points of crochet.  While a beginner could figure it out, there is enough challenge here to keep my interest for a long time to come!

Through a combination of reading this book and visiting craft blogs, I’ve figured out how to add 3D flowers to the motifs and have even explored the ‘Dragon Scale’ stitch, something I’d never seen before.  It turns out that these ‘dragon scales’ make great flower petals, too!

This is the first ‘granny square’ style Afghan I’ve attempted, and it remains a work in progress.  I like the geometry of it.  I’ll finish it off as a rectangle, which means figuring out how to crochet ‘half-hexagons’ to even out the edges.

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I also like that the ‘flower’ centers remind me of Daffodil trumpets.  These are fantasy flowers for sure, but I’ll have a knitted garden filled with them by the time this project is completed.

And once it is completed, then what?

That is usually the question, isn’t it?  My own daughter learned to crochet after my last visit to her in the spring.  Not that I didn’t try to teach her before, because I did.  But we worked on it together in April, and what I showed her finally ‘stuck.’

Someone is only interested in learning when they have a reason to want to learn.  With a little daughter of her own, and a nephew, and friends with new babies, there is a good reason for her to crochet.  She whips out baby blankets now and has gotten very good at the patterns she’s mastered.  She doesn’t need me to give her another crocheted anything at this point in her life!

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This design makes me happy and so I’ll probably keep this Afghan for myself.  It will be a fun on those cool winter nights ahead, to keep me cozy while reading garden books and sipping tea!

It’s not perfect by a long way.  But more will follow, now that my interest is piqued by crocheting these odd geometric pieces with raised embellishments.  Those can be planned to give away, perhaps.

Handmade things feed our sense of connection to one another.  Perhaps there is a note of nostalgia, too, as they bring to mind the loved ones who made them for us.  Even those things we craft and keep, like my old pair of embroidered blue jeans, remind us of other versions of ourselves; of people we knew and loved and far-off times and places.

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Nostalgia

Woodland Gnome 2016

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WPC: Nostalgia

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My dad loves Coleus, and I remember watching him plant Coleus and Scarlet Sage, Impatiens, Calaldiums and Begonias since I was a little girl.  He loves growing flowers and tending bright annual beds each summer.

And his love of flowers came from his mother’s mother, who had an overgrown garden of old roses and bright perennials behind her house decades after she was able to go out and tend to it herself.  I remember picking flowers in her garden as a very young child; flowers and mulberries, which we ate over ice cream.

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Always the Boy Scout, Dad believes in leaving a place a little better than he found it.  And part of that philosophy always expressed itself in making beds of flowers and cultivating the lawn at each of our family homes.

And he is a talented gardener with an artist’s eye for color and a pastor’s touch for making things thrive.  He still breaks off bits of annual stem and thrusts them into moist soil, somehow coaxing them to root into new plants at his whim.

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And now I join him in his gardening projects again.  Others might call me his ‘enabler’ with undisguised disdain.  And that is fine with me. 

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Caladiums and Impatiens growing this summer in my father's garden.

Caladiums and Impatiens growing this summer in my father’s garden.

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Despite physical handicaps, his gardener’s heart is strong and craves color and flowers as it always has.  Sometimes we openly visit the Great Big Greenhouse together, loading the cart he pushes for us.  The shopping cart is even better than his walker for letting his legs follow where his eyes see something of interest.

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One of the Coleus plant we bought together this summer, and shared by rooting cuttings.

This is one of the Coleus plants we bought together this summer, and shared by rooting cuttings.

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Other times I quietly leave offerings of little plants on the back patio where he knows to find them, without saying a word about them in front of  Mother.  I’ve filled his tubs with Caladiums this summer and helped him plant a hedge of Coleus beside the back walk.  The Coleus we both love so much. 

Nostalgia can hurt or heal.  We all know this.  But I believe that nostalgia heals when it keeps us in touch with those people and things we love.

Nostalgia helps us share our happiness from generation to generation.

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Caladiums in my father's garden.

Caladiums in my father’s garden.

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Nostalgia

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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