Souvenir of Peru

I brought this length of fabric home from a trip to Peru many years ago. It’s 45″ wide and 43″ long, and made most likely from alpaca wool.

I bought it in a huge open-air market in Cusco, the lovely town that is the jumping-off point for travelers visiting Machu Picchu. The market scene is one that has probably been unchanged for centuries, with all manner of things, including fresh produce, pottery, and textiles, laid out for shoppers to make their choices.

I bought it because I loved the colors and the complex woven design, but only recently did I realize how very interesting it is. This happened as a result of reading The Fabric of Civilization by Virginia Postrel. The book brings home what a significant achievement woven fabric represents, from growing and/or processing fibers like linen, cotton, and wool, though spinning, dying, and weaving, and it argues convincingly that civilization would not have developed as it did without these technologies.

Postrel’s discussion of handwoven Peruvian textiles includes a photo of an in-progress fabric featuring a pattern very similar to mine. Based on this discussion, I believe my fabric is a lliklla, a type of cape or cloak, also sometimes used by mothers to carry their babies on their backs.

In the photo in Postrel’s book, the fabric is being woven on a backstrap loom. Here’s link to some information about backstrap looms. Scroll down for a photo of a person using one; it shows clearly how the “backstrap” functions.

A completed lliklla is twice as wide as a backstrap loom, and it’s easy to see that mine is composed of two panels sewn together. Here’s a closeup of the seam down the middle.

It’s also easy to see that the panels were woven with the intention of stitching them together. Each is twenty-two and a half inches wide, and almost symmetrical but not quite. Notice that one edge (at the bottom, here) is finished with a red band and a narrow black border, but the other edge (at the top) omits the black border. When the two plain red bands are joined, they form a wider stripe down the middle.

On the same trip my husband took a picture of a woman in the marketplace spinning wool with a drop spindle. She was the topic of an earlier Yarn Mania post, “Spindle Woman,” and I now see that she is wearing a lliklla, probably of her own creation.

To be continued . . .

PeggySouvenir of Peru
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One More Granny-Square Afghan Rescue

I really can’t resist these. Someone long ago put a lot of work into this one, and now it seemed to be crying out for repair–also a good washing.

I found it at an estate sale in a rambling Victorian-era house that had once been very grand. Now the floors were scuffed, the walls were discolored, and the silver plate–of which there was a lot–was woefully tarnished. But I could imagine the parties that had taken place around the long table in the formal dining room, and in the living room with its splendid fireplace and mantel.

The family’s possessions were piled here and there in a way that made it impossible to imagine anyone living in the house recently. This afghan, barely recognizable as an afghan, was heaped with random piles of ancient books on a large wooden desk. The first price I was quoted was $5, but when I pointed out that the afghan would need a lot of repair, the man running the sale reduced the price to $2.

I was particularly attracted to the muted colors, perhaps an effect of its age. The combination of black, red, and cream reminds me of the colors in the rugs and blankets made by Native Americans in the Southwest, and the geometrical effect of the granny squares enhances that comparison.

The afghan isn’t made from wool or synthetic yarn but rather from a cotton fiber. Fortunately, the squares were mostly intact–though I repaired a few with needle and thread–because I don’t think I could have found the right cotton yarn to make new squares that would match the existing ones. Another charming feature is the delicate edging. It’s red, but see the little flecks of white. The yarn used for the edging must have been variegated red and white.

Its problem was that some of the stitching that held the squares together had disintegrated.

I was able to salvage some of the cotton yarn that had originally been used to stitch the squares together.

I also used some black acrylic yarn, which blended in okay. Since the afghan isn’t wool or a wool lookalike, it makes a nice summer throw for the back of the sofa, and I can admire my repair handiwork every day.

PeggyOne More Granny-Square Afghan Rescue
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What Are They?

They appear to be little dresses, in very springlike colors, crocheted using a delicate thread rather than yarn.

They are *very* little–only four inches from neck to hem.

Here’s another solid green one, but with a different crochet stitch used for the skirt.

A little variety: green skirt and yellow bodice.

And how about yellow skirt and green bodice?

The yellow cloth petticoat shows off the lacy crochet stitch used for the skirt.

The trimming on the armholes varies too. Here’s one style.

And here’s another.

They have a front and a back, just like a real dress, and the armholes are real armholes.

Here you can see the variety of crochet stitches really clearly, and you can see lots of examples of chain stitch. (The top two are the same–just different colors.)

Now to the question: What actually are they? Etsy to the rescue, with many many sellers offering ones very similar to mine. I found mine at an estate sale, and I imagine many of the Etsy sellers did too. They are not dresses for headless dolls. They are potholders–but obviously more for show than for use, since they are very small and not substantial enough to really protect fingers removing, for example, large baking dishes from the oven.

The technique is called thread crochet and patterns are available, also on Etsy, and on Ravelry, for crocheters who like to replicate these lovely old-time craft projects. Here’s a link to a page on Etsy with many examples of thread crochet dress potholders for sale.

PeggyWhat Are They?
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Cute Crocheted Baby Cardigan

Here’s a cozy topic for a blog post on a chilly winter day.

I found this little hand-made sweater at a tag sale, with no other baby clothes nearby. It doesn’t look worn at all. Perhaps it was a lovingly crocheted gift that was never given. Why? The mystery-writer’s imagination springs into action. Could it be the key to a tantalizing plot involving simmering family resentments, or . . . ?

It measures 10″ from the neckline to the bottom edge, and the sleeves are 6″ long. It was created using an interesting crochet technique called the popcorn stitch. The texture looks just like popcorn–especially with white yarn.

Here’s the back–more popcorn.

The sleeves are also popcorn stitch except for the section that attaches to the armhole. That section was worked in a smoother stitch, perhaps to allow for freer arm movement.

Instead of buttonholes, the cardigan features delicate little chain-stitched loops.

Button up and stay warm!

PeggyCute Crocheted Baby Cardigan
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Crocheted Christmas-Tree Ornaments

Someone had fun making these cute tree ornaments. I discovered them at an estate sale and I’d like to think the creator would enjoy knowing they have found a new, appreciative home.

Here’s a closeup of Mr. Snowman.

A festive wreath.

A Christmas stocking, tiny but very detailed.

Santa, looking very jolly.

Another style of wreath, with sequins.

The colorful paper chains you see bits of were my holiday craft project this year. I’ve accumulated more Christmas wrap than I will ever need, and I can’t resist saving the wrapping paper after unwrapping gifts given to me, so I have quite a collection. Making old-fashioned paper chains seemed like a good way to recycle and reuse. For anyone interested in replicating them–I cut rectangles 2-1/2 inches by 4-1/2 inches and folded each one in thirds to make a narrow strip 4-1/2 inches long. I used clear tape to fasten them into the rounds that form the links.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

PeggyCrocheted Christmas-Tree Ornaments
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Cozy Crocheted Slippers

With the change in the weather, it’s time to think about cozy feet. Knowing my interest in curious things to do with yarn, my daughter-in-law passed along to me these crocheted slippers she found on one of her thrifting adventures. Do they remind you of elf shoes?

The color scheme strikes me as having a 1970s feel, with the chartreuse and brown combination–though the brown is just one color in an ombre yarn that shades from brown to pink to white.

The construction is ingenious–each slipper is constructed from four crocheted granny squares cleverly assembled to create the slipper shape. They aren’t the lacy granny squares like one sees in my favorite afghans but they are clearly a version of that concept.

Here is the slipper’s toe. The corners of the square have gotten a little rounded (these slippers were obviously worn by their first owner) but you can recognize the granny square construction in the way successively larger rows radiate from the center. These granny squares have an added feature. The innermost row involves an embossed technique that creates a flower-like effect.

Here is the vamp of the slipper–another granny square. I’ve folded the heel under it in order to smooth it out for the photo.

And here is the heel, also with rounded corners.

The rest of the slipper is formed from a large chartreuse granny square. Two of the corners fold up to join the smaller granny squares that form the other parts of the top. I couldn’t show it laid out as a square unless I wanted to disassemble a slipper, but you can see the rows radiating out from the center and you can see the other two corners at the right and left.

And then of course there is the pom pom.

Very cozy–though the fit is a bit tight on my size 8 1/2 feet!

Here’s another view.

PeggyCozy Crocheted Slippers
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Amazing Technicolor Dream Afghan

I found this afghan in an old house where a tag sale of odds and ends was in progress. Hardly anyone was venturing to the second floor, where¬† the rooms that had been bedrooms were nearly empty. Hidden away in a cardboard box tucked into a dusty corner was this remarkable find. It’s obviously handmade by someone who put a great deal of labor and love into it. It’s quite large–60″ by 80″–and it’s composed of 300 crocheted squares. I had to rescue it, though my taste usually runs to more restrained effects.

Not only does it feature a riotous assortment of colors, it also uses ombre and multicolored yarns for some of the squares–as if the patchwork effect of the variously colored squares wouldn’t be eye-catching enough.

Green ombre . . .

Yellow-orange ombre . . .

Gray ombre . . .

Rainbow multi . . .

Red, white, and black multi . . .

These are granny squares, but solid granny squares, unlike the lacier ones frequently seen in afghans. Here’s a good look at how the squares of various colors are arranged–organized but not too organized. Some diagonal rows are all one color, but others are suddenly interrupted by a new color, or just random. Ombre squares, however, seem never to interrupt solid rows or vice versa.

Not too many black squares.

Perhaps the creator wanted to save most of her black yarn to use for this decorative border.

It wasn’t until I spread it out on my sofa to get a good photo of the whole thing that I realized the squares had been arranged to form a striking chevron design.

Truly a remarkable tour de force!

PeggyAmazing Technicolor Dream Afghan
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Charming Crocheted Watermelon Potholder

Just in time for the lazy days of summer, here’s a crocheted potholder that evokes a favorite summertime treat. The deep pink, white, and dark green yarn do a very effective job of representing the watermelon’s flesh, rind, and skin.

The seeds were embroidered onto the crocheted watermelon using black yarn.

And for those who prefer their watermelon without seeds, the reverse side offers a seedless option.

The potholder seems to have been crocheted in a circle and then folded in half to resemble a watermelon slice just ready for tasting. Here’s a closer look at the crochet technique that was used.

PeggyCharming Crocheted Watermelon Potholder
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A Turquoise Twosome

I found this colorful pair of crocheted poodles at an estate sale.

The context in which I found them, as well as their curious shapes–as if each was designed fit over something, suggested that they had a purpose beyond mere cuteness.

Here’s the smaller one in the setting for which I suspect he was designed–perched on a bathroom counter by the sink.

Here he has been dislodged to reveal what he is hiding, two extra bars of soap.

I suspect he once had eyes, but at least his little red tongue is intact.

His sides are worked in a very attractive crochet pattern, with a long oval forming his back.

Here’s the larger poodle. He has also lost his eyes along the way, but you can just see his little red tongue.

He also hides a bathroom staple.

This side view shows his tail.

His entire body is worked in the same pattern used on his smaller companion’s sides.

I imagine these poodles were created by the woman whose estate was the subject of the sale at which I found them. I hope she would be happy to know they are having their fifteen minutes of fame.

PeggyA Turquoise Twosome
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Another Granny-Square Afghan Rescue

I can’t resist the urge to rescue granny-square afghans when I come across them in my estate-sale adventures–especially when they are the frugal type that mix random colors as if the creator was using up odds and ends from her yarn basket. The black yarn that forms the outer rim of each square sets off the colors and ties the design together in a most wonderful way.

This afghan had seen better days. Many squares were disintegrating.

The pink yarn was especially fragile.

Big empty spaces were left when I removed the damaged squares.

I pondered grafting new middles into squares whose outer parts were intact.

I did this when I repaired a granny-square afghan inherited from my grandmother, which was the subject of a Yarn Mania post back in 2018. But granny squares are created from the center outward rather than from the edges inward and, try as I might, I couldn’t reconstruct how I managed the grafting process when I repaired my grandmother’s afghan.

So I made new squares from scratch, which is fun..

Repair underway.

Here are a new square and an old square side by side, with the new square on the right. As you can see, the new squares blend in fine with the original ones.

The afghan originally had a crocheted border all the way around to finish it off.

I had to remove it because some of the new squares were added at the edges, but when I repairs I added a new border in a different style.

Here’s the finished project.

PeggyAnother Granny-Square Afghan Rescue
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