On a dark and stormy afternoon, I closed my eyes, braced myself and sprinted from my car across the parking lot to the post office. My mission: retrieve the mail. (Neither rain nor snow nor hail nor sleet nor…. Where’s a postman when you need one?) My shirt stuck to me by the time I reached the doorway and water filled the bottom of one of my shoes from an inadvertent splash into a deep puddle.
Opening a post office mailbox might be one of the most exciting things ever. You never know what could tumble out: a message from your mother, a bill, the latest Crochet magazine. Good news or bad, you’ve played your own little lottery and didn’t lose a dollar in the process!
Today, a bomb was in my mailbox. A ticking time bomb slenderly reposing in a thick cream-colored envelope with a deckled edge and my name and address written in calligraphy.
I carefully pulled the wedding invitation from the box and studied the return address. My friend, Miss Petite Blondie Blue-Eyes, was getting married.
Each wedding invitation arrives and sets off a series of decisions and events culminating with the choice of the wedding gift. You don’t want to spend too much (lest you are out more dollars than you can afford) or too little (lest they think you are a cheapskate).
You want to get them something they want or something they need. Sometimes they enclose information about a bridal registry at a local or online shop. Without that information, you can take a cue from the wedding and reception location. If you are attending a potluck at the park, you can spend way less money on the gift than if you are having dinner at the chichi country club.
One way or the other, the gift must be perfect. You don’t want to be the one who gave “that gift.” You know, the gift that sits on the top shelf in their garage or that they “accidentally” broke in their last move. Heaven forbid, you gave the gift that became the “white elephant” joke and circulated among their friends for years before coming back to you with a funny card.
My solution has been a crocheted afghan. With the amount of time spent along with an appropriate yarn choice, the afghan truly suits any wedding from the local park to the swanky downtown hotel. Handmade by me, I give the gift of my time and their snuggling. Now, however, I had to focus on the nuptials at hand. I pulled out the invitation that evening and stared, getting an idea of how this person viewed her wedding and how that meshes with my view of her. A cream-colored thick envelope with a deckled edge and calligraphy means this person wants their wedding elegant and traditional, but opening the envelope revealed an independent soul who custom designed an eclectic invitation with a feather lovingly tucked into the fold. Since I know my friend is more eclectic than traditional, I realized I need something elegant yet fun.
My “Wedding Ring” afghan consists of only two design guidelines: filet crochet and two interlocking rings in the middle. I’m basically lazy, so the filet crochet allows me to work the afghan up quickly while symbology of the interlocking rings is self-evident. Other than that, I can allow my imagination to run free and insert anything that screams love, love, love into that pattern.
My perfect wedding ring afghan is five feet by eight feet to fit a queen sized bed or easily cover two people nestling on the couch. This rarely happens due to the fact that I always underestimate the amount of yarn necessary and because I have an alarming attachment to symmetry. If the afghan will be more symmetric in a smaller size, that’s what you’re stuck with.
Next, I choose the yarn. Fiber choice can make or break a snuggling experience. Now, if the couple is young, still moving from house to house or with a small child, my choice is consistently one hundred percent acrylic. Safe to wash and dry for the baby’s barf and resilient enough to survive inevitable drops during moving, acrylic yarn creates a basically indestructible afghan that can live on the top of the couch for a long, long time. Luckily, the new fiber technologies mean that more and more acrylic colors, shapes and feels are available. My current favorite wedding yarn is hefty chenille in white, cream or champagne.
Though, if I know the couple well, I may pick a brilliant red or wine color. Ah, the romance!
If the couple is older, on their second marriage or seemingly past the need for children, I find myself searching for more exotic fibers. Cotton, mohair and silk call to me from the shelves of my local yarn shop. Still, I migrate to the soft, plushy fibers which call out for cuddling.
Miss Petite Blondie Blue-Eyes calls for bulky champagne chenille with a frame of eyelash yarn in the same color so she’ll have a sophisticated plumpy afghan with a fuzzy border to tickle her nose.
Finally, I fulfill my mission. Luckily, I like to have something to do while I watch television and, luckily, I watch a lot of television. I try to schedule my afghans in the winter and around sporting events like tennis tournaments or the Olympics. However, if that scheduling fails, I simply station myself on the sofa with my bag of yarn, crochet hook, and a good mystery movie.
Nothing can stop the obsession to finish once I’ve truly gotten started on an afghan with a deadline. I crochet late into the evening and wake up and crochet in bed. I crochet while hanging the afghan off the sofa because the weather is so hot I can’t bear to have it cover my legs. I huddle under a just-finished afghan while starting a new one on one of our wintry Rocky Mountain below-zero evenings.
Once, I was so late finishing the afghan that I crocheted in the car, finally finishing the thing in the hotel the night before the wedding. We stopped at a hobby shop on our way to the ceremony and became “Gangsta Wrappers,” quickly purchasing cloth and ribbon to fashion a giant bag. There’s nothing like the thrill of the gift as you fight the wind whipping through the car (who knew that it would be hard to fit a five by eight foot afghan into a three by six foot piece of cloth?) while your sweet honey-bunny runs back into the store to buy a pen to sign the card.
Whoops! We’re usually so prepared!
Luckily, Miss Petite Blondie Blue-Eyes’ afghan worked up quickly and turned into a five-by-five masterpiece of interlocking rings and hearts. I lovingly wrapped it (in my own house, even!) before inserting it with a lovely card into a box and returning to the post office on a beautiful sunny blue day to send it off to its new home.
Despite the trials and tribulations and long stretches of boring filet, I attempt to create every stitch with the love I have for my friend. She knows Lesbian Law #1: Never underestimate the power of a Lesbian Housewyfe.
Now I have nine months to finish the baby afghan.
Since writing this piece, I’ve expanded from crocheted afghans to a multitude of knitted objects. Luckily, the number of people in my life getting married has since slowed from a gush to a trickle. I still recommend handmade gifts for weddings. From our wedding, the quilt top is cherished as much as the beautiful knives from our registry, and both still get daily use. Plus, the truth of an afghan is that, even if the receiver hates it, she will put it in her blanket closet and pull it out for the occasional guest to snuggle underneath.
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