By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
After an unmarked bag of crochet squares appeared with no note, the members of Coaldale’s “Blankets for Canada” are hoping to make contact with the person who donated the squares.
Nellie Slingerland of Blankets for Canada said, “On the afternoon of Jan. 4, someone dropped off a plastic bag full of 160 small crochet squares, but no note was left behind”. Slingerland said, “we read all the tags on them,” but said the group had no information except for the tags and business cards attached to the various squares.
Since arriving on their doorstep, 80 of the travelling crochet squares have been combined and woven together into a large blanket. “It has become quite a conversation piece,” said Slingerland.
Many of the squares had tags and business cards attached. Most had dated fonts and graphics and were weathered from time. Others had partial details including names, phone numbers, home addresses, and email addresses from all over Canada, and the USA. One square included the contact information of a lady all the way from Australia.
Although Sunny South News reached out to a number of legible names and addresses attached, contact was made with one “Kim Guzman,” who previously went by the name Kim Wiltfang, under which she published dozens of crochet designs in Annie’s Catalogue, (previously Annie’s Attic).
Guzman was able to help provide a rough timeline on when the squares were made by identifying her business card attached were, “Cards I printed myself on my printer. Over 20 years ago.”
She explained in the early 2000’s, “there were exchange groups on the internet,” for croc het and other textile mediums, who would come together and chat in cyberspace. Guzman explained the online crochet communities, “were organized through Yahoo Groups. Everyone who joined would mail out a square to each person in the group. You can tell the one that says ‘CLAGSX’ was a Crochet List group.”
Although some of the squares did not have any details attached, several had “CLAGSX” and “CLHTSX” written to indicate what could be an acronym attributed to one of the group names.
Several of the members of the Coaldale chapter of “Blankets for Canada” noted the squares were of different dimensions, indicating the squares which were dropped off as a collection were not collected with a single project in mind, but were augmented to fit the final design of the two blankets completed in Coaldale.
In any case, Guzman said these kinds of project exchanges really took off in the online crochet and textile communities after chatrooms and online groups emerged on Yahoo and other platforms over 20 years ago. The Sunny South News made contact with a second square-maker from Rosenberg Texas who confirmed with printed email records the squares were likely mailed out in Aug.,1998.
“There were all kinds of groups with different crochet projects exchanged. Things like potholders, scrunchies, doilies and several different groups for themed crochet squares like this,” Guzman said, referring to her square which eventually made its way from Lombard, Illinois up to Coaldale, Alberta.
She said sometimes members of the various online communities could put out a sort of “call for submissions,” and people would mail their own squares to collectively take part in a larger project.
“When my great grandmother turned 100, I asked one of the big groups if they would like to submit squares for her. I received 100 squares from all over the world. I sewed them together and gave it to her at her birthday party,” explained Guzman, noting each square for her great-grandmother’s blanket had labels like the ones found on the doorstep where members of Blankets for Canada meets in Coaldale.
Slingerland said, “Nothing like this has ever come to our door. These squares came from Manitoba, Ontario, New York, Arizona,” and beyond.
The group has plenty of remaining questions about the squares, and are hoping to find out more about how these donated crochet squares ended up on their doorstep.
“We would love to meet the person who dropped it off and give us some information,” said Slingerland. The group is hoping the person who made the anonymous donation might come forward to share their side of the story on how they came to own the squares.
The Coaldale Blankets for Canada chapter meets on Thursdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at 2226-23 Avenue in Coaldale, and sees makers from across Lethbridge County pop in to stitch or bring donations.
If you were the generous donor of the travelling crochet squares, Nellie can be reached by phone at 403-345-3205 (no Sunday calls please). Kim Guzman continues to work in crochet pattern design and now runs her own website, https://makeitcrochet.com/.
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