A Retirement Crocheted Afghan

By A Guest Writer – 23 Comments
A Guest Post by Barbara Davis.

Anyone who had completed thirty years as a public school teacher deserved a memorable keepsake, I thought when learning that Ann, a dedicated 8th grade Algebra teacher, had announced her pending retirement. Scrapbooking doesn’t appeal to me, so I decided to create something in the medium I love best: crochet.

crochet afghan

My plan was to make colorful eight-inch squares in single crochet, and give one to each of her friends and colleagues to embellish as desired. These completed, decorative squares would be stitched together forming a patchwork type afghan. Good idea, I thought, and easily accomplished. I am still bemused at my naïveté.

Betty embroidered a large honeybee across her square – Ann’s hobby is bee keeping. Penny cross-stitched several squares. My favorite is the school’s mascot: the Majestic Lion. Under his chin Penny sewed a tiny bit of tatted ecru lace from her grandmother’s precious stash and added tiny snippets of yarn around his crocheted head for his mane. Very cute!

So far my plan was succeeding, but soon things began to…well, unravel. “You must be kidding, Barb” was a common response when I handed the completed square, the tapestry needle and the coordinating small balls of yarn to my colleagues. “I can’t even thread a needle,” was the common response. The flaw in my plan, I discovered, was few of the teachers had needlework skills. Undaunted, I requested they describe orally or draw their square’s design, and I began an Internet search as well as rummaging though my stack of books and magazines seeking suitable crochet patterns for implementation.

The afghan commemorates several aspects on Ann’s life: career, hobbies and activities, colleagues. Career motifs include a schoolhouse, a blackboard, geometric figures, a Fibonacci square, the school mascot, and the symbol for Pi. A sailboat, a log cabin quilt square, and a beehive reflect some of Ann’s interests and activities. Colleagues’ motifs include an American flag, hearts, flowers, a wheel, a cross, and a butterfly. Most of the crocheted objects were appliquéd on the crocheted square, but several, including the symbol for Pi, were worked in tapestry stitch.

The addition of a corresponding color worked in single crochet around the completed squares helped set off the design: brown edged the square with a football motif, variegated thread reflected the rainbow motif, and a green edging reflected the apple’s green leaf. Each square was trimmed in cream-colored yarn -I used Red Heart brand yarn for the entire afghan- crocheted the traditional granny-square stitch of three double crochets, chain two, three double crochets. This addition made a perfect “frame” for each square and complemented the patchwork design. It also allowed the whip stitching to appear almost invisible as I joined the completed motifs.

“Done, and done,” is Ann’s favorite expression when an algebraic equation is worked to the correct solution. But the afghan needed a final touch despite my desire to complete this labor-intensive, time-consuming project. Softening the look of the retirement afghan is a border of cream-colored shells.

Each square has a tale to tell. My friend Jane has uploaded the pictures of the individual squares, and will print them in color for …yes, a scrapbook in which each designer can express their thoughts on the design of the square as well as express best wishes to Ann in her retirement. I picture her reading it while wrapped in her cozy afghan.

Done and done.

crochet retirement afghan
Above is a photo of Ann and a friend, Jane, during the cookout at school when we presented Ann with her retirement afghan.

She was surprised and appreciative.

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23 Comments

  1. Ambar says:

    :) :) :) I don’t usually like scrap afghans, or multicolored square afghans, but this one is wonderful. What a sweet thing to do.

  2. Amber says:

    That is so neat!

  3. Barbara Delaney says:

    wow what a beautiful tribute. its is gorgeous !!! there’s so much love in every stitch.

  4. theresa says:

    What a special gift for this teacher, she really must of left an impression in your heart that you would make such a beautiful gift!

  5. Teena says:

    wow, that is so cool!

  6. Susan says:

    What a wonderful gift!

  7. Susan Kline says:

    What a fantastic idea! I’m sure the teacher who received it will treasure it and all the remembrances you’ve included. This is so special and I can’t wait to see all the details. We should all have friends like you! Susan K

  8. Ambar says:

    “We should all have friends like you! Susan K”

    Yes, we should all have friends like you. I’ll tell you my life story and you can make me a quilt, too! :D :D :D

    Seriously, I already posted, but I really have to say that I like the history in your crocheted memory quilt, it’s sweet, it was a lot of work I know (I, too, crochet) and you are to be commended.

    Please tell us how long it took you to make.

    Ambar

  9. joseaweed says:

    Hey Barb, well done!! Looks great. Have you given it to her yet? Why don’t you take a pic of it hanging up so you can see all the squares and put that in the scrapbook? A real work of art.

  10. Karen says:

    What a wonderful idea!
    Beautiful and meaningful for the receiver and her family. I’m sure it will be an heirloom item!

  11. Barb says:

    Thank you all for the wonderful complements on my retirement afghan. We are planning to have a farewell party at school in May and present it to Ann at that time.
    Another friend has photographed each individual square and printed them, leaving space so each colleague can add a thought or two- she will then assemble them into a scrapbook.
    Joseaweed, I like your idea! Will photograph it as suggested, and use it as the cover for the scrapbook.
    Ambar, it took me a l-o-n-g time; I started in October and worked consistently on the afghan (designing the motifs, crocheting, blocking, and joining all the squares) until the end of January.
    Barb

  12. amy says:

    this is soo neat!! what a wonderful idea and what a great memorable gift for her!!

    Amy

  13. Sandie says:

    Fantastic gift! I can just imagine the work involved and don’t know if my heart and hands could take it. LOL But what a labor of love. I’m sure Ann will appreciate each stitch. The scrapbook will also be wonderful, a chance for the stories to continue on into eternity.

  14. Julie Stewart says:

    This is such a terrific gift. Wish I could be there to see the look on her face when you present it to her. I know there will be lots of tears! What a great idea for a special friend. Loved your post about it too. Good Job.

  15. Sodie says:

    I was once given a piece of fabric to embelish for a memory quilt for someone moving away – wonerful keepsake. You went way beyond idea by first crocheting the squares – what a give of love Ann will receive. I’m crying so can’t imagine the party! You’re a special person!

  16. [...] So check it out! It is an amazing afghan. Here’s the link to the post: A Retirement Crocheted Afghan [...]

  17. Jessica says:

    …I honestly loathe multicoloured knitty/crotchety things like this, BUT I think this one is simply stunning, and were I the lucky recipient, I would be moved to tears by the beautiful heartfelt gift that this is. I’d be proud to own it!

    My absolute kudos to you! What a friend you are :)

  18. Kelly says:

    I love this idea! I’m planning one for my daughter’s high school graduation (2011) and parents 50th wedding anniversary (2012).

  19. Madelein says:

    Just love it!!!!

  20. Val says:

    What a beautiful and special gift this is. Great idea.

  21. Barb says:

    I am so pleased to have inspired others to make a commerative afghan for a special event!

  22. Barbra says:

    What an amazing, special gift. I’m sure it was well deserved~I taught for 33 years!

  23. Lorene says:

    What a wonderful gift from the hearts of all her friends. It takes me back to my second grade. Our teacher got married and the class made a quilt. Each square was embroidered by each student. Our student teacher started and finished the project as a wedding gift. All of us were invited to her wedding. It was many years ago in Indiana.
    I know you will always love that beautiful gift and all the thoughts and work put into it.

    Blessings to all,
    Lorene

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