Friday, June 15, 2012

A Stranger's Afghan

While a dozen of us prayer shawl ladies sat around the tables yesterday at the Methodist church, a woman entered with a large bag. It held the pieces of an old family afghan. The woman who crocheted it has been dead now for 8 years. She died when she was 95. The afghan itself is over 20 years old.
The family is looking for someone who will finish the work. The panels are all made, but they're unassembled. No one else seemed interested, so I offered to look at it. The afghan has four wide 'diamond' panels, and nine thinner strips. You can see them above -- 3 of the strips are a darker brown, and one of these is much shorter.
Here's a close-up of the thinner strips. The dark ones have a popcorn stitch, which is lovely. Also note the lattice weave stitch used to join all the strips and panels together. It's a very lovely stitch, about 1" wide. This lattice weave joining is what the elderly lady did not do -- she barely started it before she discontinued her work on the afghan.
Isn't it pretty?
I agreed to do the work, and the lady agreed to pay me some sum that we'll settle on later. How long will it take? I don't know. Is there damage to the afghan? Almost certainly. I found a tiny bug or two as I fingered it; there will be miniscule holes. Will I be able to figure out the assembly? The short dark strip is not usable, so I won't be able to assemble according to the pattern. I'll need to find a new way. Plus, the lady hoped I could make two lap throws from the panels, instead of one bed spread. That will not be possible.
So yesterday, I sat down to the work. I laid it all out and chose where to begin. I started at exactly the final stitch the elderly woman had last done, held her last stitch in my fingers. Her slender "0" hook was still in the yarn. I tied on some new yarn, undid her last stitch and made it my first stitch, and moved into her world. It was a slightly surreal experience.
It is very fulfilling, doing the work that someone else was unable to finish. I don't know her name. She lived in Washington state, a world away from here. Yet the language of the hand-work is the same for both of us, and we apply our fingers to the same yarn, the same project. When I'm done, her great-grandchilden will snuggle under this afghan. I feel privileged to participate.
I completed some of the joining stitch; here it is:
The two long dark panels will probably need to go on either side of the afghan. I'll be sure to show you when it's done!


  1. What an interesting project. Keep us posted on your progress :)

  2. Wow! You are a wonder! What a nice thing to do!
    It's pretty!

  3. It's coming along1 I want to complete it (maybe?) this week while I'm at my mom's.


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