Monday, 6 January 2014

All you need is love (with apologies to The Beatles)

I credit my mom for my yarn addiction. I can't remember a time when she didn't have knitting needles in her hand, and I grew up knowing that the furrowed brow, rhythmic clicks and whispered counting meant something beautiful was being born of sticks and string.
Mom and her knitting, circa 1976
She taught me how to knit when I was a kid. I think my biggest achievement was a yellow poodle pop bottle cover (mercifully long gone). But she made magic. Vests, mittens, hats, scarves, leg warmers (in the 80s), sweaters and the most beautiful baby things imaginable. I often think about the elementary school teachers who were lucky enough to have a baby while I was their student. They all got gorgeous handmade gifts from my mom.

Mom still knits today, although not as frequently now because of her arthritis. The very last thing she made for my dad before he died was a bright red cardigan. The poor man spent the last 10 months of his life freezing cold, no matter what the weather or how high the heat was turned up, so she made him a cheery new sweater to keep him cozy. The ultimate creative act of love.

He never wore it to the hospital for his thrice-weekly dialysis appointments. Mom thought it might be because he was embarrassed that the red was so vivid, but I suspect it was because he wanted the brand new sweater to have absolutely no associations with the hospital. Home was his favourite place to be, especially after spending three months in hospital at the beginning of 2010, and I think he just wanted the sweater to be something that always just meant "home".

So on the third anniversary of his death this past Saturday, I dug through my stash to find three leftover balls of that bright red Patons Astra to make a special project. Knowing what the yarn had been used to make, it's taken me all this time to finally bring myself to use it up. But I think this project is just perfect for it.

I give full credit to Mikey over at The Crochet Crowd for the pattern and inspiration, but I did make a one big change: Mikey's version was a Christmas wreath. Mine is a little something different, inspired by love of yarn, tradition and family.

I started by wrestling a wire coat hanger into the shape of a heart, using the hook as the wreath hanger. It's all a little lumpy, but it won't affect the finished product.

The next step was adding a base layer of double crochet stitches around the wire frame. It took a good long while and was a really annoying process. Crochet is often 99% fun and 1% pain in the ass. Look how interested Lucy (old kitty by the fire) is in my base-layer crochet drama.

And now, three double crochet stitches into each stitch on the first round. The volume of stitches is what creates the rippling. Hey look! I made a little magic myself!

This last picture shows the start of the third round, which is three double crochet stitches into each stitch on the second round. This took FOREVER. But the effect really is worth it, if I do say so myself. It's like this pattern was made for a frilly Valentine's Day wreath.

I'm currently working on the last round (single crochet, chain three, single crochet in the next stitch). It's adding a little extra "frill" and volume, which is making me a very happy and satisfied yarn addict at the moment.

You know, I don't always have good ideas. I'm glad this one is turning out as well as the preview in my head: a heart in memory of my dad and in celebration of all kinds of love--even the yarny variety.

Thanks for getting me hooked Mom.


  1. I am so glad you are blogging again. I adore your writng. I looooooove that heart wreath!!!!!!! I just died of cute, you know.

  2. I LOVE LOVE this wreath idea...and the sentiment behind it is so very wonderful! Surround yourself with love in all those little awesome ways! It's these little handmade, heartfelt, memory infused creations that make lives immortal!