Well, back to the modern world of cell phones and internet connections. I have to say this year’s fair was the best I’ve had in years!! Even though it rained, and of course it had to rain heaviest when we were judging fleece. For three hours I stood and clerked for our judge with rain pouring off the canopy and down my back, trying to keep the fleece dry was indeed a Herculean effort!
We had some beautiful entries this year from a beautifully finished felt purse created by a 14-year-old exhibitor, to a knit tam made from lace weight spindle spun 2 ply yarn, but my real favorite was the crochet collection by exhibitor Chris Cockett. The story behind these crocheted items is one that will amaze you!
The tiny ornaments to the left and right of the doily are a booty and a moccasin, edged in metallic sewing thread, and the moccasins have dangling beads as an embellishment. They are no bigger than 3 inches long, and 2 and a half inches tall. She used a size 7 steel crochet hook, and 2 ply hand spun silk thread which was not the most evenly spun. Her work is highly skilled, but even more so when you find out the whole story.
Chris had a stroke earlier this year, it was quite severe, leaving her paralysed on her left side. Now, as crochet experts, we know that we use our non-dominant hand every bit as much as we do our dominant hand. Chris and I crochet very similarly, we hold our work and control our tension with our left hand, we dance a bit, with our fingers on the left hand manipulating the threads for tension purposes. Not only could Chris not feel her left hand, her entire arm was numb and jerks suddenly as nerves get messages through from her brain.
The day after her stroke, while still in the hospital she demanded her crochet, she has been crocheting since she was a little girl and didn’t want to lose her beloved craft. Two months after her stroke she began to crochet these beautiful and nostalgic ornaments, and the cross bookmark. She complains that the doily took her three weeks to complete, instead of the one week it would have before the stroke.
As a hand spinner as well as a crocheter, let me tell you the challenge of working with silk like that! It likes to mate to itself, and is difficult to rip out, it’s so fine that it knots up, and it loves to tangle. It is slippery, and stains easily, and it’s hard to keep an even stitch when the silk is as varied in diameter as this particular skein is (thick and thin spots).
When she brought the entries in last Wednesday, I cried, she cried and we hugged. Crocheter to crocheter, we both know what it took for her to accomplish this feat of skill. We both know how much the craft means to her, it has been her sanity for many troubled years, and her joy to gift those she loves. She makes gifts for her nurses and doctors, and the receptionists at the offices in town, her grand babies have little dresses and sweaters, and she decorates dolls too. Her fillet crochet is gorgeous, and yet she has been looked down upon before by those who do not recognize crochet as a skill. This year was different. She sat in the log cabin demonstrating and I would point her out to people and explain that the lady pictured above her work was sitting with us, and tell her story (she didn’t want to herself) and explain how amazing these pieces are under any circumstance let alone doing this post-stroke.
And now, ladies and gents, you know why I do the fair. Every year there is a story, every year someone in our department reaches a point of victory. They find out just how capable or creative they really can be in their art forms or in their lives, and sometimes the two cross over. It is an honor to know this self appointed, “Determined German” and I only hope that someday if I should be in the same situation I would have the guts and grit to persevere and over come my obstacles.
You can meet Chris at our upcoming retreat this October! To sign up for the retreat go to the CLF Webpage and click on the links!