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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Trades

Hosta "Lemon Lime" divisions, sent by Michael Laico, newly potted up and ready to grow.

Hosta “Lemon Lime” divisions, sent by Michael Laico, newly potted up and ready to grow.

Blogging friend Michael Laico offered a plant exchange on his site right after the Fourth of July.

He grows and hybridizes Hosta, and hoped to trade some divisions of Hosta for other plants he wants for his garden.

Michael offered up a miniature Hosta, called “Lemon Lime” which grows to about 8″ high.  It sounded perfect for growing in pots on the deck.

This Hosta offers beautiful golden green leaves and scapes covered in purple flowers, much enjoyed by hummingbirds.

Reblooming German Iris, "Stairway to Heaven."

Reblooming German Iris, “Stairway to Heaven.”

I offered a re-blooming German Iris, “Stairway to Heaven” in exchange; and the deal was done.

It has taken us about a week and a half to dig, prepare, and post our plants.

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Michael received my package of Iris and some rooted Begonia cuttings on Wednesday, and I received his package of Hosta and Japanese Iris today.

What fun to get a package of new plants in the mail!  And how satisfying to exchange plants with friends.

Sometimes it is good to have a little faith that a friend’s gifted plant will be something you’ll also enjoy growing.

The plants as they appeared when I opened the box this morning.  They look healthy and ready to grow!

The plants as they appeared when I opened the box this morning. They look healthy and ready to grow!

Although I don’t grow many Hosta, since they are basically deer candy in our garden; I love Hosta foliage and flowers.

They are dependable shade perennials whose foliage can stand alone or provide an interesting backdrop for other plants.

I would have a garden full of them were it practical.  The six we planted our first season here survive- barely- even through nibbling after nibbling when deer finagle their way through the fences and into the garden.

Our Hostas were badly grazed early in the season.  This one blooms bravely, despite its chewed and mangled foliage.  yes, I do know about all of the deer repellant sprays on the market, and I use them every few weeks...

Our Hostas were badly grazed early in the season. This one blooms bravely, despite its chewed and mangled foliage. yes, I do know about all of the deer repellant sprays on the market, and I use them every few weeks…

So I will enjoy this H. “Lemon Lime” as a potted perennial, grown well out of reach of hungry deer!

I haven’t made up my mind yet whether to pot the Iris or plant them directly into the garden.

Since they love moisture, I’m leaning towards a pot whose moisture I can control; rather than taking a chance on drought or voles devouring these iris before I get to enjoy their blooms next spring.  Photos to follow….

Michael's Hosta divisions, ready to pot up.

Michael’s Hosta divisions, in good, rich soil, ready to pot up.

So thank you, Michael, for offering this exchange. 

Not only is it fun to trade plants, it is a very economical way to expand one’s garden.

These divisions are potted up with a rooted Cane Begonia cutting, which will have white flowers.

These divisions are potted up with a rooted Cane Begonia cutting, which will have white flowers.

I shipped USPS Priority Zone  Mail, and paid a little less than $7.00 for postage, which included tracking and $50 in insurance.

Here is the Begonia before I planted it tonight.  See the new stem growing from a node?  The rooted cuttings I sent to Michael already had miniature plants growing from the node, ready to grow into a new plant quickly.  These Begonia canes have been rooting in water for several weeks.

Here is the Begonia before I planted it tonight.   See the new stem growing from a node? The rooted cuttings I sent to Michael already had miniature plants growing from the node, ready to grow into a new plant quickly. These Begonia canes have been rooting in water for several weeks.

The plants traveled from Virginia to South Carolina in a day and a half.

Michael shipped Fed Ex.  It took about the same time, and his well packaged plants arrived in great condition.

These newly planted Hosta divisions looks a little droopy, right after planting, but will adjust quickly to their new home.  Hostas need shade and moisture to thrive.  These got a drink of Neptune's Harvest fish and seaweed emulsion immediately.  The roots are strong, and new leaves will appear with a week or so.

These newly planted Hosta divisions looks a little droopy, right after planting, but will adjust quickly to their new home. Hostas need shade and moisture to thrive. These got a drink of Neptune’s Harvest  fish and seaweed emulsion immediately after planting. Their  roots are strong, and new leaves will appear with a week or so.

We both poked holes in the boxes for ventilation, and packed the roots of our plants in damp medium and Ziplock bags.

So if you’d like to grow H. Lemon Lime for yourself, and have something interesting to trade, please hop over to Michael’s site and leave him a message.

He has great photos of the mature Hosta in bloom on this page, should you want to take a look at the beautiful flowers it produces each summer.

I promise you it is well worth the effort.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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