One writer pays homage to an irreplaceable afghan (and an even more irreplaceable woman).
My favorite handmade gift is this cozy afghan crocheted for me by my late great grandmother. It's perfect for curling up on the sofa with. Photo: Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien
My great-grandmother, who we called Na, lived to be 100. I was lucky enough to grow up with Na until I was 16. This wise, soft-spoken woman was the picture of warmth. I'd often find her sitting with one of her crochet projects on her lap as she watched The Young & the Restless
. I'd curl up next to her on the sofa with my grilled cheese sandwich, and everything felt right in the world.
Crochet was one of Na's greatest talents. I've had a lifelong love of crafts. Coincidence? Probably not.
My great grandmother (who I called Na) holding baby me. Photo: Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien
Before she passed away, Na managed to crochet a special afghan for each of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (15 of us in total). We're all connected to each other in a special way though Na's handmade afghans, each different but definitely of a common thread (kind of like all of us).
In my early teens, it was my turn. I remember the thrill of going shopping with Na to find the perfect purple yarn (my favorite color, then and now). I watched Na work on my afghan; her aged hands were amazingly nimble. One by one, the stitches magically grew into a blanket. I opened up my finished crochet afghan on Christmas. It was a thrill to finally hold it in my hands!
Now I'm in my thirties, and Na's afghan traveled with me from the house where I grew up to college halfway across the country; then it came with me to my first apartment, and followed me through every apartment I've inhabited in New York, including my current place in Brooklyn, where I live with my husband. The afghan has kept me cozy through many brutal winters, and is a reminder that Na is always with me, wherever I go. Who needs a Snuggie when you've got a handmade treasure like this?
Four crochet afghans that Na made for different family members. Photo: Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien
This winter, I'm signing up for a knitting class; I'm craft-oriented, but somehow I've never taken the time to learn needle crafts. My mom and aunt both knit and crochet. Now it's my turn to pick up where Na left off.
As for my purple afghan, it's still kicking; no holes, no pulls, and it only gets cozier with age.
Tell me about the best handmade holiday gift you ever received!