Friday, March 13, 2009

Granny Square for Grandma

Last summer, I sent my grandma in Toronto one of my earliest crochet creations. Here she is, posing with my first apple:

According to my mom, my grandma examined the apple for a long time before saying, in Cantonese: "When you can crochet in circles, you can make anything."

It was only then that I learned of my grandma's ability to crochet, a skill she learned in her forties. Here are some of her crocheted flowers:

She also practiced the thousand-year-old art of Chinese Knotting. Here is her knot work:

And here is her ceramic work:

These beautiful creations―all made after she retired from her silk-flower shop―remind me that new skills can be learned at any age. And although she didn't teach me to crochet, my grandma raised her children to follow their artistic interests. In turn, my mom's encouragement led to my artistic pursuits, including crochet.

My grandma passed away last month at the age of 93.

As a last gift, I made her my first granny square:

This coaster-sized basket-weave pattern is from the book, Beyond-the-Square Crochet Motifs. I added a second square as a backing, which allowed me to include a farewell & thank-you note inside its pillow shape.

I'll always remember my grandma's sunny spirit, and cherish the creative connection that we shared.


  1. *tear*

    this is the sweetest entry ever.
    I loved how you shared her skills and I loved the final photo with your "granny square" for g-ma.
    She's right once you learn the circle you really can make anything. ^_^

    Sounds like she lived a wonderful and fufilled life.

  2. this is such a touching post!! creativity must run in the family!! her work is incredible, such amazing work!!! i bet your grandmother is/was extremely proud of you!! it's so great that you get to see how some things don't change from one generation to another.

    i am just starting to learn how to crochet and i came across your site a couple of days ago. i love the progress that's visible in your entries that show how much you've grown not only in your skills but also in your creativity! your site has been a source of inspiration (specially this entry) thanks! :)

  3. I loved reading this post! I am so happy that you were able to connect with your grandma about crochet before she died. She sounds like a very special lady. The pictures of her work are very impressive. Her creativity and crafty spirit definitely was handed down to you. :) I can tell that you made her proud.:)

    Speaking of granny squares.... isnt that book awesome! I just bought it last week. I have been having a blast with it. In fact my next blog is going to be about that book. I am hoping to do a book review on it also, but my writing skills aren't as good as my crochet skills, so we shall see.

    I am sorry to hear about your Grandma passing away. Your family will be in my prayers.

  4. That's a very sweet tribute to your grandmother. I bet she was very proud of you and that she always looked forward to seeing what her grandson would create next. Grandparents always seem one of the sweetest parts in our lives that are always cherished.

  5. Thank you for sharing your grandma with all of us. I love her work and I love what she said about crochet circles... and the granny square note you made for her makes my heart hurt, it is so perfect.

  6. Thank you all so much for the supportive messages :)

    Kimberly Tia: I'm glad you liked this entry, and it was my honour to post an online tribute to my grandma's craftiness. Yes, she lived a happy life that was rich with family, friends, and creativity. Thanks, Kimberly.

    Ally: Yes, she was crafty before I even knew what crafty was! :) When I was a little boy, I would hang out in her store as she made & arranged silk-flowers with my mom. Thanks, Ally.

    Sooji: You're right that there is much artistic expression―from music to painting to papercraft―being created by my relatives! I used to worry that my niece was interested solely in sports and Hannah Montana, but she recently asked for a dedicated desk for making paper crafts, *phew* ;)

    I hope your crochet is coming along well, Sooji, and I hope to continue being one of many sources of inspiration. Thanks!

    Rebekah: I'm also happy to share my crochet with my grandma during her last year. My aerial-silk-dancer cousin in Toronto has that red apple now.

    Yes, Edie Eckman's book is awesome and beautifully layed-out! I'll be watching for your book review on your blog. Thanks for your prayers (and good luck with your upcoming Artfire store)!

    Shelly: Yes, my grandma was very supportive, as it sounds like your Texas grandparents are to you :) I was fortunate to also make a crochet ice cream cone for my grandma over the holidays.

    Thanks, Shelly. I'm glad you liked the tribute.

    taffyyarn: Thanks again for your generous sentiments. Now that I've made the first granny square, it would be fun to try more designs from the Beyond-the-Square book. Your square felted owl hotpad is hard to top though ;) BTW, did you know that David Lynch appears to be twittering as well?

    Thank you all again for taking the time & initiative to write :)

  7. Awwwwww. Although it's great that your grandma had such a long and full life, I know from experience that that doesn't make it easier now that she's gone. I'm sorry for your loss.

    Your grandmother had some amazingly beautiful work! Her crochet flowers are very sweet and her knot work is unbelievable. I love all of the bookmarks but the dragon is my hands down favorite. And I love the clock that looks like a plate. What a rich and interesting life your grandma must have led! Again, I'm sorry about her passing.

  8. Thanks for the kind words, Mequet. You're right about the sadness of losing a loved one, even if they lived a long and full life. But we're also grateful for everything she gave to her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond :)

    The knot dragon is also my favourite! It's almost two feet long. Curiously, my grandma wasn't especially proud of that dragon. I guess it didn't live up to certain standards she set for herself. By the way, we plugged in that plate clock a few weeks ago, and it still runs smoothly despite being over twenty years old.

    Thank you again for writing :)

  9. Howie,
    You are so creative, I am amazed you have gathered a lot of art work of grand-mom.
    Keep up your creative work!
    Uncle Sing

  10. Thank you for the encouragement, Uncle Sing! Yes, I was amazed by the quality and quantity of grandma's art work when my mom gathered them for me. For the photoshoot, each set of knotted ornaments & necklaces (shown in the first two knot photos) filled up a five foot table!

  11. What a beautiful woman, her face looks so kind. I know you miss her terribly. Thanks for the heartfelt testimonial about your Grandmother. She was quite an artison, herself.

  12. Thanks for writing, Miss Julep. Yes, my grandma was full of kindness and generosity, it's kind of you to notice! :)

  13. Howie,
    Thank you so much for compiling and sharing so much of Poa Poa's work. I had no idea she made all those things and was so creative! Just like you! It's funny how it takes an experience such as this to truly understand and learn about someone. I've learned so much about Poa Poa and our family that I didn't know before. Although it is a shame the circumstances of how this understanding came about, I know that Poa Poa, her "sunny spirit" (as you put it quite perfectly), wisdom, compassion, and talents will continue on through her many children, grandchildren, and great grand children.
    I'm very proud to have one of your earliest crochet creations, the apple (which I thought was an apple/tomato ;-) that you made for Poa poa. When we were cleaning her room and I came across it, I knew it would be a cherished memory. I'm sure she was proud of your skills as she can appreciate the effort involved as a fellow crocheter herself. Btw, I've also given your ice cream cone a good home too!

    =) Bonnie

  14. Thank you for your morale-boost and for writing so elegantly about Grandma, Bonnie!

    Your aerial dance talents expand the artistic adventures in the family line, and your mid-air dance routines must have been amazing for Grandma to witness.

    The applemato & the ice cream cone are lucky to have you as their new owner! :) Thanks, Bonnie.

  15. Applemato! Perfect name, and that's what it will be henceforth called.
    Thanks Howie, it was great that I could share that with Poa Poa, and I hope one day you'll be able to see my aerial dance too!

    Take care,

  16. wow your grandma was crazy talented as well!
    it's great to see that u're keeping the creative spirit alive with all ur innovative designs
    keep it up !! :)

  17. Thank you, Lisa! I always appreciate your BC-brand of encouragement :)

  18. My condolences on the loss of your grandmother. She was one talented lady! I especially love that knotted dragon and the fish.

  19. Thank you, JenGoPop :) Your kindness is a perfect match to your amigurumi & crafting skills.

  20. Wow you definitely inherited your talent from your grandma. Such beautiful work. I'm sorry you lost your grandma.

  21. Thank you, Linnyhb :) Yes, my grandma's lovely work is a good reminder to keep creating, whether it is now or well into retirement :)

  22. i know this is very late, but i just couldn't NOT comment on this. first of all, i am sorry for your loss. and second, wow, your grandma was incredibly talented. her work is amazing, i especially love the dragon. wow. i don't even know what else to say. i guess it runs in the family. your granny square is a wonderful gift, it's beautiful. thank you for sharing all of this with us.

  23. Thanks for your kind words about my grandma, Lindsey. After seeing her knotting work and Kara's Hopping Ghost doll, I may also put Chinese Knotting on my future To-Learn list! Thanks again, Lindsey :)

  24. What a beautiful lady and a beautiful tribute. :)

  25. Your grandma is awesome and looks like she passed that down to you!

  26. This is so sweet. Your granny was obviously incredibly creative and looking around your site you've clearly got it running in your veins!

    By the way, Hi!! I've only just discovered your site and i love it, its like a treasure trove of your quirky imaginings (i'm gonna go and poke around some more now) Monika :D :D

  27. Marcy: Thanks so much. There were many beautiful tributes to my grandma during her funeral, so it was an honour to write a tribute that can be shared over the internet :)

    Anonymous: Thanks! I recently received a desk mat with the image of my grandma's crochet flowers, so I'm regularly reminded of her creative spirit :)

    crookedcrocheter: Thanks Monika! I'm glad you found this site, and I'll be following your crochet blog too. Us beginners have to stick together! :D

  28. Super! Bravo - Joana

  29. Joana: Thanks for the Super and for the Bravo! :)

  30. :-)

    I learned chinese knotting while studying in Taiwan during a summer exchange program. I really didn't learn. HEHEHEHE.

    Awwww...I also lost my grandmother (last year october) when she 93.

  31. I'm glad your super-grandma is doing well at 93 and beyond :) Yes, chinese knotting looks challenging and fun at the same time!

  32. Wow! So cool, especially the dragon! I just found your blog, and I am loving it!


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