MotherLove: Winter 2007 Shawl -- Tunisian CAL

Angela Grabowski has provided the Yahoo Tunisian Crochet group with a pattern for a wonderful Tunisian sampler shawl, which we've done as our winter Crochet-a-Long. I finished mine during the time my mother was being treated for lung cancer -- she's cured now -- and the shawl provided much comfort, so I've named the project MotherLove.

My family owes a great debt of gratitude to all the list members (and other folks) whose good wishes sped my mother's recovery.

To quote ARNie on crochet as a lifesaver:

I knew it would take about 2 weeks before there would be any real change in both of their conditions. I remembered the research that needleworkers develop the same brain waves as Tibetian monks reach while in deep meditation. Needlework is restorative, relaxing and an excellent means of managing stress, so I needed a project to work on that could keep my mind occupied for two weeks.

I went into my stash of onesies and twosies, and then to the Hobby Lobby clearance section to stitch a sampler blanket of soft fuzzy yarns...something that would be very comforting to work with.

For two weeks, I did nothing but stitch and pray. I didn't worry about my family members. I didn't obsess over their conditions, and these two problems were big enough that the stress could have put me into bed for weeks. Instead of stressing out, I stitched.

As I expected, their conditions were resolved in two weeks: they were both home and for the one who was near death- miraculously, doing well. Instead of me then having to heal myself out of bed, I had a blanket to remind me of those horrible weeks, and that I survived them. To this day, the blanket reminds me that I can survive anything with faith, a hook and some string.

I owe a great debt to crochet, because it has saved my sanity (and my life) many times since my health issues started 10 years ago. I repay that debt by sharing crochet with others. I am honored and humbled to be able to offer you- all of you- the same comfort I have received from crochet. (posted to the Tunisian Crochet mailing list, 26 March 2007)

After my mom's cancer was discovered, I spent a lot of time waiting with her in doctors' offices, waiting at home to get test results, to determine the course of treatment, and to attempt to help my sister and her family maintain some kind of family life. It was the longest time I'd spent at home since I moved out in the first place, and I really treasure the time I got to spend getting to know my immediate family better again, most especially my mom. My shawl has come to represent the entire journey, with all the love and concern and support we were for each other; made out of all the love and joy of the folks who created the yarn and made my hook and wrote the pattern and shared the project. Every time I wear it now, I feel like the universe is giving me a hug. (I keep turning the air conditioner colder so I have an excuse to wear it...but that's not going to work for too much longer, it's too hot where I live!)

This picture shows the first couple of sections completed. ARNie's ended up being 9 ft across and 4.5 ft deep -- mine's not going to end up that big.

I am using handspun yarn from the marvelous Jenny of Frayd Knot, an E-Bay store. It's very textural, but still allows the main features of the Tunisian stitch sampler to show through. The yarn is a blend of alpaca, wool, and whatever else happens to strike Jenny's fancy; she's dyed it herself. Since it's on average very bulky, I'm using a size P cable hook for this project. The resulting shawl is pretty dense, but has a bit of give -- I haven't decided whether I'll try to "stretch" it when I get to the point of blocking it. If, in fact, I block it at all.

This closer shot shows the "spine" formed by the mitered corner technique that we're using.

You will notice that there are occasionally stripes of violet and yellow yarn sneaking in -- I'm using that as the fill color when I don't have enough of the main color to finish the section.

ARNie's pattern didn't include fringe or any other edge treatments, just the cross-stitched edging at the top. I decided I wanted to add "dangly bits," which kept me busy for quite a while, but it was worth it:

Here's a close-up picture of the fringes on the left hand side:

and on the right:

I decided I didn't want to make "heavy" fringes towards the bottom of the triangle, since I'd sooner or later be sitting on them, so I finished those sections with "chain fringes" (where you chain the length you want and then slip stitch back through the chain to make it a little heavier). At the point of the triangle I decided to do a spiral motif:

And here's my final "artsy" photo:

When Mom was in the hospital, my sister and I walked across the street to pick up snacks at the local dollar store. I'd been trying to find a good clasp for this piece, since the wooden sticks and even my lovely Scottish penannular brooch aren't strong enough to hold it in place. I paid a whopping $1 for the perfect solution to the problem:

Butterflies are said to represent spring, rebirth, renewal, all that juicy healing "stuff," so this really was perfect.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I am so glad you're here.

Last modified: 25 June 2007

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