Hexagonal Patchwork



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.




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.




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.



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!



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.



For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Nostalgia

Woodland Gnome 2016




Christmas Eve: Tuesday Snapshots

december 15 2013 Santas 064

The old, traditional holidays always begin at sunset.  So it is Christmas here in Virginia. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!

December 24 Christmas Eve 002

May your greatest gift this Christmas be a gift of love and connection to those who share your life in this moment.  Whether you are near or far from home, close to family or estranged, young or old; may your heart be warmed in the light of love from those who share your path in this moment.  May you find friendship and understanding, support and caring from those with whom you share this Christmas.

December 24 Christmas Eve 003We all have loved ones far from home.  Some are away by choice and others by necessity.  We learn that time and distance can not separate those who hold one another in their hearts.

May you find quiet moments, this Christmas, to remember happy moments from Christmases past.  Whether the same cast of characters will gather with you this Christmas, or whether your family includes loved ones who have passed on or gone away for whatever reason; recall those whose lives have touched yours with love.

Christmas is a bittersweet time for many, perhaps more so with each passing year. december 15 2013 Santas 048 We can best honor those who have loved us by remembering them with love.  Our family stretches beyond the boundaries of time and space to include those who have gone before and also those who will come after.  Each year we welcome newcomers into our lives, and look forward to the time we will share along the way.

Perhaps the greatest gift we can offer is an open heart and warm hand to the new ones among us.   Especially to those who find themselves far from home, who need to be included, and made one with a new family; a family of caring, if not of shared blood.  We are all a bit like children at Christmas, and all in need of a little love.december 15 2013 Santas 073

So I hope your halls are decked in holiday cheer, your table is set, your baking done, and your loved ones are gathering.  The door has opened and we have entered Christmas once again.  Let us keep it well, with loving heart and twinkling eye. 

The spirit of Christmas lives in each of us.

All photos by Woodland Gnome, 2013

“Welcome Christmas. Bring your cheer,
Cheer to all Whos, far and near.

Christmas Day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to grasp.

Christmas Day will always be
Just as long as we have we.

Welcome Christmas while we stand
Heart to heart and hand in hand.”

-From the cartoon version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Theodor Seuss Geisel

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