August 14, 2015

Of Motorcycles and Crochet

Back in mid to late 2000, I decided to learn to crochet.  I wanted to be able to make things for my future children.  A lefty friend of my mother gave me a few basic lessons and off I went.  I made wreaths, blankets, a sweater, doilies...anything that struck my fancy.  As will happen with enough practise, I got better.  My skills improved and I took on more challenging patterns.  Eventually I started modifying patterns slightly to suit myself. 

In late summer of 2002 my husband decided to teach me to ride a motorcycle.  We’d been doubling up on his Norton Commando for a few years at that point, but now he wanted to get me a bike of my own.  I wasn’t sure what I should ride, but my husband found a really neat 3-year-old Harley Davidson for me that had only 3000 km on it. I signed up for the motorcycle rider’s course but had months until it started.  So, I had a few lessons from my husband on how to ride and we were off.  We rode everywhere.  It didn’t take me long to find a motorcycle group that operates like a service club and join. 

Over the next ten years or so I spent a lot of time riding or hanging out with my club members.  We fundraised lots of money for local charities and had a lot of fun, meeting a lot of other bikers while doing it.  I also spent a lot of time crocheting various things for my son, friends and family. 

Early last year I had a brainwave.  Why didn’t I combine my two passions?  I proposed to the club that I would make an afghan throw with the Harley logo on it and donate it to the club.  They could sell raffle tickets on it and raise some funds for our favourite charity.  The club members were keen so now I really had my work cut out for me. 

First, I had to source out a pattern.  I was sure I’d be able to find one somewhere.  Somewhere?  Anywhere?  It didn’t exist.  No such thing had been created.  Then I discovered, by following various links, that someone had in fact created an afghan pattern.  I contacted the designer and she offered her pattern to me, which I gratefully accepted.  Unfortunately, when I looked at the pattern, I realized that several things just didn’t work for me in the design.  Now understand that I’m not criticizing the pattern, just saying that it didn’t work for me.  One big thing that pattern did do for me is it inspired me!  I decided to try my hand at making my own graph.  So, I studied the Harley logo and made my design.  I then decided to make flames like the style we’ve all seen on so many bikes.  These were tricky, but I figured it out.  The whole pattern design was a huge learning process for me.  I’m sure there are many easier ways to create a graph, but I stuck to the tried-and-true pencil and paper method. 

Now that I had a pattern, I had to get the yarn.  That part was fairly easy, but I also needed something to use as a backing fabric as I figured it would save me having to carefully hide the yarn ends on the reverse of the afghan.  What a stroke of luck to find an orange fleece that exactly matched the orange in the logo!  Next I had to figure out the mechanics of how to actually crochet the thing. 

First I tried making my row and then turning the chain to proceed back and forth.  While this worked well using only black, once I started into the colours of the pattern, I quickly realize this would not work at all for the effect I wanted.  Next I tried an afghan hook and doing the afghan (or Tunisian) stitch.  I didn’t have an afghan hook long enough.  With 200 stitches on the hook, it was jammed so tight I couldn’t really work it.  I looked for a hook with a long extension, but had no luck.  I decided to make one and while I did succeed, in a limited sort of way, once again I discovered that it worked great for black only, but once into the pattern I didn’t care for the effect.  By now I was used to cutting my yarn and starting over.  The fourth time turned out to be the charm.  I made my foundation chain.  I left long tails at start and finish and cut the yarn.  Back to the beginning, I made my first row.  I left long tails and cut the yarn.  Back to the start and repeat.  At last, I achieved the look I wanted! 

Working around my busy work schedule, I managed to get the throw done in time for the club’s annual summer party, which is usually attended by about 700 people.  One of my friends took custody of the blanket and showed it off as she sold books of raffle tickets....and in fact, she sold out all the tickets.  I was very excited that the club successfully sold all its tickets and made so much from the blanket.  When I made the draw, I was very pleased to see that a member from another chapter had won it.  His wife was thrilled and kept it around her shoulders much of the rest of the party as it was fairly chilly that summer. 

A few weeks later, she approached me about making another afghan for them.  They wanted this one to be personalized and to have the Yamaha V-Star logo on it.  While they loved the Harley afghan, they ride a V-Star.  After all the work I’d had to do on the Harley one, I told her I needed to think about it.  A month after that I said I was still thinking.  In the meantime, I’d been all over the Internet trying to find a V-Star pattern, or at least a V-Star logo in a usable size.  Once again it wasn’t meant to be.  I still hadn’t actually decided to do it, though, and in fact was disinclined to do so.  The next month she asked me again.  I told her I couldn’t even think about starting until late the following spring.  She didn’t mind that.  I told her it would be prohibitively expensive.  She asked how much and I quoted the price for materials, plus an extra amount to stitch it up.  I figured that would put her off.  Imagine my surprise when she agreed and I suddenly found myself creating my second graphgan. 

So now I have two motorcycle logo graphs that I’ve created.  I thought to upload them to Ravelry, but they rejected the upload because of the copyright matter.  I can’t say I blame them.  At any rate, here are my pictures.  The Harley blanket is finished, but the V-Star is still a work in progress.  I’ll update the post with final pictures as it’s done.   Enjoy!
Harley afghan completed summer 2014
V-Star afghan design - crocheting currently in progress