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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ode To An Afghan

     I won't run through the whole boring story leading up to the preparation of my initial encounter with the art of crochet and the creation of my first granny square. I will start with how proud I was when my first square was done. It was a six inch square and worked up rather quickly. After I got finished patting myself on the back I looked at the book and then discovered I need like about a zillion more of them to make anything useful. Not being a patient person the mental wheels started grinding, I was never good at math but I was thinking if I need 80 six inch squares I would only need 40 twelve inch squares. Right ? Wrong, but that did not come into play at that time. I reattached the yarn and started to add rows/rounds. It got bigger, but, so I tied on a new skein of yarn and again it got bigger and I added another skein of yarn until all of a sudden I had this huge square. Like "BAM! Now that's what I'm Talkin' about !"

     Please note I was 14 years old at that time but had already developed into what I like to refer to as a rather intense personality. So as I review all the afghan patterns I had already collected I noticed none of the afghans are square. So now I have this humongous square and apparently afghans are supposed to be rectangular, right? Who ever heard of a "Square" afghan? I never saw one. Dilemma how to turn the square into a rectangle Hummmm. Back to the book and behold I found a Chevron or ripple pattern. Starting with a foundation chain which meant I could add a ripple pattern to opposite sides of my square and a rectangle is born. TA-DA ! Nothing left to do but add a simple border around the whole mess and call it done !

     In spite of my best effort, this project resulted in the ultimate "UGLY" afghan. When I started I had high expectations but low confidence so I purchased Red Heart Yarn {on sale yarn) for my first effort, which at the time I could only get in three colors. Federal gold, Moss green and a shocking shade of Purple. The birth of my first experience with going NEON! When finally finished I draped it artfully across the sofa and called Mom to admire my handiwork. Being a loving, caring mother who always encouraged my creative talents no matter how feeble, Mom raved about how well done it was and how beautiful it was. I in return, enthusiastically proclaimed "I made it for you." (it's true no good deed goes unpunished) Mom gently suggested since it was my first masterpiece (monsterpiece) perhaps I might like to keep it for myself, IN MY ROOM ! Ah, but I was not having any part of that. Because at the moment of her voiced admiration it had instantly become "The greatest Mom in the World Award" so how could I deprive her of it ?

     Mom was very brave, I now know, because as I grew up Mom got stuck with all of the "first" creations of the many different art forms I explored, so whenever my craft changed over the years so did her personal torture. I remember well the gaudy "Sequin" earrings, the painted Plaster of Paris Pins, the handmade aprons, the plastic tile box/bowl thingy or whatever the heck that was anyway. Like most of my accomplishment, no matter how awful, the afghan was out on display for a while. With the arrival of Spring blossoms, it went into the cedar chest for the summer. Over the years it moved mysteriously in and out of the closet or cedar chest with changing seasons or current need. Mom devotedly dragged it along from house to home as she led the family through the routine of daily living. I admit I felt a new sense of pride when Daddy fell ill and it was deployed as a banner of comfort and love on his wheelchair.

     I stopped taking exact notice when it came and went, always appearing in Mom's apartment abut the time the cooler nights of fall crept into the rooms, slipping out of sight with the warmth of spring. It was old, heavy, clumsy and still UGLY. After a time, as I matured, I perceived Mom as getting older and looking smaller and she appeared frail to my eyes so I made two small stylish afghans in her favorite colors. These at least were beautiful, well made, light in weight but still warm and worthy of the privilege of the task assigned to them. As we neared the time when she went to meet daddy, she chose to forgo her lifelong, ever present, sweater and spent most of her time snuggled under one of those little afghans, to ward off the winter chill or the breeze from the summer fans.

     Closing up Mom's apartment was difficult and the "UGLY" afghan, now affectionately named by me as the Purple People Eater, suddenly reappeared still as ugly as ever. In spite of the two new afghans I had made for her, even after all those years she had saved it. Perhaps she saw some redeeming quality in it that I did not detect. I know she had a keen eye because in spite of all my growing pains, she never gave up on me. So one of mom's little afghans was donated, Sis, took the other with my blessing and I was going to toss the Purple People Eater but Sis would not hear of it. She insisted I bring it home where she deemed it belonged. She reminded me it was my first "Monsterpiece" and believed I should keep it. How do you deny the wisdom of a little sister who has watched you your whole life and knows you better than you know yourself.

      So now it lives on my rocker. It turned 54 years old February 2011 and is, in spite of my achievements, a constant reminder of my humble beginnings. It is most treasured by my Chihuahua, who is always cold, and is pressed into service when the winter chill creeps over the counterpane, you may find us cohabitating under its folds. It is still "Ugly" and it looks a little worse for wear, having survived hundreds of bouts with the washer and dryer over the years. But the colors are still bright, the yarn a little less resilient but amazingly enough it still has its rectangular shape and has never lost a stitch. Faithful, ready to work, undemanding, a silent sentry as life moves forward it remains, another tribute to the undeniable truth "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."