Tag Archives: afghans

How the Royals World Series Run Inspired Me to Finish my Mother’s Projects

30 Oct

I have a sense of completion. A sense of a burden lifted from my shoulders.   An empty container sits in my spare room. It held the pieces of an afghan that my Mom began knitting for my niece over seven years ago. This blue and white afghan made in Penn State colors was supposed to be used at college. That never happened.

But thanks to the Royals, I completed this afghan! Their drive to succeed and never give up gave me the inspiration to finish projects that my Mom had started years before she passed away.

My Mom started two afghans at the same time; a blue one for my niece and a green one for my son. She knitted large panels, completing five for both my niece’s and my son’s afghans.. She even started crocheting borders around the panels of blue that would one day become my niece’s afghan and green for my son’s.

But my Mom never finished either project.

My Mom working on the afghan for my son.

My Mom working on the afghan for my son.

She could make the panels, but she never put them together. I have my opinions as to why she could not finish.   Partly I think because she had the pieces in two separate homes. Some she worked on in their apartment in New Jersey. Other pieces were completed at their home in the Catskills.

Any discussions of the afghans became a ‘tease.’ “Grandma, are you ever going to get them done?” She would nod her head and say she was working on them.

But she did not finish them.

My Mom died suddenly.  The afghans were left undone. But we were not thinking about them. We were trying to deal with life without a wonderful Mom and Grandma.

Nine months after my Mom died, my Dad died.

There were even more unexpected sorrows. My siblings and I left our parent’s homes untouched. The apartment and the house stood empty. We could not deal with the memories that awaited us. The afghans waited, forgotten.

In May of 2013, we began to clean my parent’s apartment. It had been almost two years since my Dad passed away.

While we cleaned, I found a container with some pieces of the afghans and some yarn, but not enough to finish the project. Since I am the only child who knits and crochets, I decided to send the pieces to my home in Kansas. Perhaps I could do something with them. But I knew she had completed more pieces. I just was not sure where they were.

In July of 2013 my brother and I went up to the home in the Catskills. I found the rest of the completed sections of the two afghans along with extra yarn, her crochet hooks and knitting needles, and the instructions she was using to make the afghans. My brother shipped these to my home as well.

I left the boxes in my spare room for a year, packed and untouched. I could not bring myself to open the boxes. I knew what was in them. I knew I needed to do something with them. But I just did not know if I could actually complete them.

But this summer, I finally tackled the boxes. A neighbor, a young woman I have known since she was in preschool, was raising money for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society by helping people organized.   Although I am usually organized, I needed help for this project. For my donation to the charity, I received five hours of help.

We went through all the boxes. We unpacked all the yarn, thread and instructions. We placed the pieces of the two separate afghans into two separate containers. I could see what needed to be done to complete the afghans. But I still was not quite ready to work on them.

I was not quite ready to pick up the pieces that my Mom had started so long ago. I was not ready to touch the afghans she had worked on so lovingly. My son and my niece both celebrated birthdays this month. Both are October babies. And with the Royals in the Pennant Race, I began to think more and more about the afghans. I felt that she wanted me to finished them this year. I could not give up on this project, just as the Royals would not give up on their October quest!

Game four of the World Series, Royals versus Giants. Since we live in the Kansas City metropolitan area, this is a very big event. My husband was out of town.   I was home alone, watching the game by myself. And I decided it was time. I could work on an afghan as I watched.

My niece's afghan, what my Mom had completed.

My niece’s afghan, what my Mom had completed.

I brought now the tub that had my niece’s afghan. I put the pieces on the floor. I could see that my Mom had completed white borders around two of the panels, and started the borders around two others.   I set myself the goal of completing the borders while I watched the game. COMPLETED!

I then examined the pieces. My Mom had made each panel a slightly different size. I think this might be why she did not put them together. She did not know what to do.   I did not want to change these panels. I had three long ones (one very long) and two short ones. So I made a design using the shorter panels to go above and below the longer panels.

I began to sew them together, gathering as needed. I put the longest panel to the outside. And I finished that during Game 5! Then I began a border around the entire afghan. First I did a row of single crochet in white; then a row of double crochet in white. I knew my Mom would never leave a white border. So I added a single crochet of blue, and then a double crochet row of blue. It still did not look right. I then added a scallop. Perfect.

My niece's afghan completed during game 6.

My niece’s afghan completed during game 6.

I finished it the day before my niece’s birthday, during Game 6. Yes even during all that excitement, I was able to crochet.  I mailed it to her on her birthday, in the afternoon before Game 7.

I thought finishing the projects my Mom started would be too painful to accomplish. But I was wrong. I felt a burden lift from my shoulders as I began to crochet. I think my Mom would be happy to know what I was doing!

The pieces my Mom finished of my sons afghna.

The pieces my Mom finished of my sons afghna.

Before Game 7 of the World’s Series, I brought the container that held my son’s afghan into my family room. I took out the five pieces and decided what I needed to do. This border was different than the one my Mom had put around my niece’s afghan.   I began to crochet.

Sometimes my mind wandered to my Mom. I thought about her knitting and crocheting these panels. My stitches have a slightly different tension than hers. But it does not matter. When I crochet, I feel close to my Mom.

The Royals lost the game, but they showed so much vitality and good sportsmanship. Even when our catcher was hit hard in the leg with a pitch, he battled through the pain. I felt for him!

He never gave up.

Finishing my Mom’s projects during the World’s Series seemed like the perfect project to accomplish.   Soon my son’s afghan will be completed as well. Thank you to the Royals for a great October and for giving me the inspiration to succeed in a project as well.

 

Grandma Esther’s Afghans Wrap Me in Love

28 Mar

Throughout my home are reminders of my Grandma Esther.   She spent much of her time knitting and crocheting for her three children, nine grandchildren and later 18 great grandchildren.

During the summers she stayed with my Aunt and Uncle in a bungalow in Kauneonga Lake, where my other grandparent’s bungalow colony once stood. Most days, rain or sunshine, Grandma crocheted.

Image

I still have the first afghan that she helped me to make, when she first taught me to crochet. It was the first thing I made after a scarf.  This afghan began life as a poncho. But when I got tired of wearing it, Grandma helped me find matching yarn, and we made it into my first afghan with my Mom’s help when Grandma was not around.  This green, orange, yellow, brown and beige afghan stays in my sewing room/guest room.  It is starting to fray, and the stitches do not look so wonderful. But since it has to be about 47 years old, I would say it is in pretty good shape.

Image,

In my bedroom is the afghan she made as one of nine for her grandchildren.  My brother, sister and I each got one when we got married.  Mine is orange and green, because those were once my favorite colors (though not anymore). I keep it in my bedroom on a comfortable reclining chair.  When I am having a bad day or feeling sick, I wrap myself in my Grandmother’s afghan and feel only love and warmth.

My daughter has two afghans made by Grandma.  By this time Grandma only remembered one stitch.  So all the great grandchildren have the same pattern, just different colors.

Image

She made one afghan when I was pregnant and presented to me as a baby gift.  The other afghan she made at my daughter’s request, using the colors she wanted…pinks and purple. (My daughter was almost seven when my grandmother passed away.)  But the green, yellow and blue one was made in anticipation of my daughter’s arrival.

Grandma was 88 years young when she flew from New York to Kansas to be here the week after my daughter was born. My sister and her husband flew here with Grandma. Nothing was going to stop her from seeing my daughter. She stayed for a long weekend.  It was a special time.  And these memories are there in the afghan.

Image

A dark blue, kelly green and orange afghan was made for my son.  By this time Grandma has having trouble.  My son was born when Grandma was 92. Grandma had three great grandchildren born close together that year.  If I remember correctly, my Aunt helped Grandma complete these afghans.   She had several more to make after my son was born.  I think his is one of the last full-size afghan.  She made a matching pillow to go with it as well.

I keep his in a plastic bag in his closet.  When he was little he liked to sleep on the floor of his bedroom in a teepee wrapped in this afghan.  Now it waits for him to once again use it.  There is no room in his little college apartment.

Image

On the back of the chair I work in, is a small lap afghan. This my Grandma made from scraps of yarn leftover from other projects.  She gave it to my parents, who used it for almost 20 years  after she passed away, until they also died. When we cleaned out their home, I took it home with me.

Besides my Grandmother’s afghans, I also have ones that I have made.  A purple one for my daughter when she was born is one of my favorites.

Image

Each afghan holds love in each stitch.  The love I remember when Grandma taught me to crochet and knit.  The love my Grandma put into each afghan she made. And the memories she wanted us to hold with the little label sewn in each one that says “Made especially for you by Grandma Esther.”