According to Alfred Lord Tennyson, “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”
As summer approaches its mid-point, it could be rightly said that my fancy lightly turns to thoughts of the North Carolina State Fair.
Since 2004, I have entered my work in the State Fair on five occasions. I have entered skirts and sweaters and purses and hats, but the only category I really pay attention to is Department Y, Section 103 (Non-threaded Needlecraft), Category 00030, described in the premium book as: Afghans, Throws (3 or more colors). There are two other categories for afghans, one for 1 -2 colors, and another for afghans made with variegated yarn. But I am seldom able to successfully follow such limits on color choice, so I routinely enter category 00030.
Today, however, took me back to a morning in September of 2006. I awoke with a tremendous headache, and the knowledge that there were only 12 days remaining for me to finish my entry in the North Carolina State Fair.
After the last minute craziness of my 2004 entry, I had done my best to get an early start on my 2006 entry.
By April of 2006, I had formed a clear vision of what I wanted to accomplish, purchased all of the yarn I would need to execute my plan, and begun work on the entry-to-be. However, one thing led to another, and with just twelve days to go, and pounding headache, I found myself with at least thirteen days of work.
So, that morning, after I had sent my son off to school and walked the dog, I sat down with a piece that was approximately 2′ x 6′, but when I got out the tape measure to check on the size, I found that the width and length were variable and that the sides were not square. I had been using a single crochet stitch through the front loop only, and not only had I not taken sufficient care to count the stitches in each row, but I was unable to achieve a consistent tension over the 180 or so stitches of the length.
About 2 hours before my son was due to arrive home from school, I finally accepted that the afghan as I had envisioned it was not going to happen for the 2006 State Fair; I needed aspirin, a hamburger, and a new plan.
The new plan consisted of a circle of color framed with a warm brown that morphed into a square. It became clear to me early on that because of time considerations, I would need to alternate the more complicated square with a less complicated square. Here is what I came up with:
For the next 12 nights and days, I worked from the moment I got up until the time I went to bed, and as the remaining days dwindled, I got up earlier and stayed up later, until the night before the afternoon the afghan needed to be finished.
It was my good fortune that my then 21-year-old son dropped by unannounced. I persuaded him to fix his little brother dinner, spend the night, get his little brother ready for school the next day, and then drive me to the state fair, because by the time I had been up far too many hours to be driving. Once we got to the parking lot of the fairgrounds, I laced up the last seam while my son ran a lint roller over the nearly finished object.
Here is what I was able to accomplish through a slavish devotion to my craft and the enabling of my children:
And happily, that year, their efforts and mine were rewarded with a blue ribbon.