How Who You Meet in Third Grade Can Change Your Life

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As I hurtle through middle-age at what seems like the speed of light, I am struck by how quickly life can be turned upside down.

I am also struck by how long-dormant friendships that first came into being on the school playground at recess can once again spring to life when you least expect it.

One of my closest friends when I was in the third grade was a girl by the name of Laurie. She had very long hair that she often wore in pigtails, and she was unique among my friends in that she was willing to play with Madame Alexander dolls which, at the time, I was quite taken with.

But after third grade, I was assigned to a different school, and we parted ways. There was no unpleasant falling out, no argument; we were just no longer proximate. We lost touch, and it stayed that way for years.

Periodically our paths would cross, and then, just as they had at the end of third grade, our paths would again diverge.

Then, shortly after we reached the half-century mark, Laurie faced a series of challenges, the kind that you have no choice but to plow through, and plow through them she did.

As someone standing on the sidelines with a limited ability to help my friend who was 2850 miles away, I wanted to do something, but what?

I got the idea one night while chatting with Laurie that a crochet afghan based on cookie motifs would be the perfect gift to help her through the challenges she in front of her.

Her mother, who died in her mid-fifties, was known for her cookie baking prowess. A cookieghan, I reasoned, would remind her of her mother at a time when she could sorely use the perspective a mother can give, and she could even wrap herself in it like a mother’s hug.

The only problem?

The idea was all in my head.

But the lack of a pattern or clear plan did not deter me. I got online and scoured Etsy and Ravelry (an online fiber crafting community) for patterns I could use as the basis for my “big idea,” and I found the perfect pattern to serve as a starting point at Etsy.

The only problem?

At that time Etsy did not have instantly downloadable patterns, and the designer of the cookies in question was on vacation for two weeks. I didn’t have that kind of time. I needed to start now!

And I did.

Sort of.

What I got started doing was searching the internet, grocery stores, and bakeries for every cookie out there. I studied every detail of Girl Scout Cookies. I took pictures, noted proportions, and on and on and on.

Because I like prime numbers and because thirteen is one of my favorites, I decided that a cookieghan composed of a baker’s dozen of a baker’s dozen of crochet cookies would be just right.

All I had to do was identify thirteen different kinds of cookies that I wanted in the cookieghan, and then design them.

Eighteen months later, I managed to do exactly that.

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With all of the crochet cookies made, the only thing left to do was to join them, and after a long afternoon learning what wouldn’t work, I finally figured out what would, and eventually all one hundred and sixty-nine cookies were joined together and ready for adventure:

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My friend loved her cookieghan, and truth be told, the crochet cookies have never left me.

Since that time I have made a cookieghan for Amelia — the granddaughter of a friend from high school — a piece I call “Cookieghan 2.0” that garnered a second place ribbon in the 2013 North Carolina State Fair, and even a cookie scarf.

I have no idea how things would have turned out if I had been able to buy that Etsy pattern I couldn’t wait two weeks to get, but for now, I will just move forward with my crochet, one stitch at a time.

Crocheter on a mission to make the world a better place — one stitch at a time. Twitter: @crochetbug. Crochet blog:

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