Crocheting was never a hobby in which I excelled. For me, creating a lengthy chain of yarn was easy enough, but I could never figure out how attach the links to actually form something other than a 20-foot long colored piece of loopy string, let alone create an entire crocheted coral reef like the folks at Institute for Figuring (www.theiff.org/reef) did. I caught The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral reef in New York this spring, and now the bright, wooly sea anomenes and furry sea cucumbers are on display at London's Hayward Gallery until August 18.
Designed and curated by IFF co-directors Christine and Margaret Wertheim, the creation is a testament to the disappearance of the Great Barrier Reef, which is being devastated by global warming and pollution. Even though the message is important and disturbing, the colors and whimsy inbedded in these crocheted sea creatures instantly brought back cheerful memories.
I couldn't help but think of my Grandma Williams who once bought batches of plastic doll faces and crocheted fancifuil doilies around them, finally affixing a big button on which to hang a matching potholder. Then there was the popular craft fair purchase of the 1970s: a crocheted, crinolined lady who discretely hid a roll of toilet paper under her skirt. There were the white doilies that my mom, her sisters and my Grandma Churchill crocheted and starched all white and crisp. For Christmastime, Mom still crochets lofty, delicate angels that adorn her holiday tree.
The multi-blue toned flame stitch afghan my mom made still rests the back of the sofa just as it did when I was a kid. When my sister and I were sick and stayed home from school, we would wrap ourselves in this security blanket of sorts to watch reruns of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island.
When babies are born into my family, they inevitibaly receive a version of a cuddly, pastel green or yellow afghan. I admit that I don't have the crocheting knack, but my sister, Cheryl, makes up for me ten-fold. A few years ago when my dear friend Ruth Handel married , I requested that my sister make her a crocheted afghan. Cheryl power crocheted until wee hours of many a morning until she finished what was called "Scraps of Love," a bright, masterpiece of handwork that has been perched on Ruth's sofa since the day it went home with her.
Crocheting is an act of love in which the maker is able to take a warm wooly strand, wrap it around a cold metal or plastic hook and create a cherished form. If only creating a real coral reef were that easy.