Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Grandmother's Granny Squares
When my father-in-law moved to a smaller place recently, he gave us a lifetime's worth of treasures. Months later, we are still fitting them into our house. Wait till I show you the delicate crocheted lace! There is also a garage full of tools, but they're for my husband's blog, if he ever starts one (heh).
My daughter and I were going through one of the boxes a few weeks ago and pulled out this colorful crocheted throw. As my husband's grandmother was an accomplished needlewoman, we believe it to be her work.
At first glance (and whiff), I wondered if it was worth restoring. There were at least fifteen holes, some of them quite large, and it was dirty with age and smelled very strongly of mothballs. But daughter was entranced (and so was I) so restoration ensued.
First came several trips through the washing machine. This removed the dirt, but not the smell. I put it outside in the sun for a day. What a miraculous transformation! The odor dissipated, leaving a mild yarny aroma that isn't unpleasant at all.
Next I attempted to crochet replacement squares. After three or four, I came up with a recipe that, while not exactly the same, looks nearly identical and is the same size.
(Note: the three on the right are original centers that I salvaged. I just had to add the black border.)
The next part terrified me: cutting out the damaged segments. Nine squares needed removal; in the end, I cut into two more by mistake, so that brought the total to eleven (this doesn't include small holes that I'll simply darn).
In theory, this should have been easy: find the joining thread and cut it. But over the years, the yarn had become fuzzy and matted. It was difficult to distinguish the yarn used for joining from the yarn of the blocks. And of course, all that yarn is black. I only cut into surrounding blocks twice, which isn't too bad, though I did say a few choice words. ("I didn't say that," I told my children. "No, you didn't," they agreed.)
I have asked myself if it's really worth putting all this time into repairing an obviously worn-out blanket. It does have sentimental value, but it really is extremely worn. (There are many, many more holes. If I were going to do a proper job, I'd remove much more of the black yarn and re-crochet it. As it is, I'm going to take black yarn and just darn the heck out of it.) But yesterday, my daughter came over and sat down by the blanket, spread out on the floor while I looked for holes. She pointed out differences in the yarn between squares, and even in the same square. We thought about who might have made those replacements, and when. We counted the blocks made out of a single variegated yarn, versus those done in two or three colors. We picked our favorite colors and styles. My daughter likes the orange ones because they look like flickering flames. I'm partial to the three-color ones done in shade gradations.
So much thought and work went into this blanket over the years, by more than one pair of hands. I love the story it tells, and the questions it raises. And I hope it will last one more generation.