Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How It Came To Be

Almost 20 years ago, we made a life-changing decision: we moved to Santa Barbara, CA, and put our house in Los Angeles up for sale. And as we packed up all our worldly possessions, we told our children, "As soon as we sell the house in LA, we'll take you on a wonderful, magical trip to Walt Disney World in Florida!"

Little did we know at the time that we were on the verge of a SERIOUS housing slump!

For two years, we kept cutting the asking price of our lovely little home in LA, only to watch the housing market spiral down even further. In the end, we were fortunate to sell at all, just a few days short of the 2-year deadline for capital gains taxes.

Needless to say, there was NO money for a Disney World vacation!

So, I began trying to save up, but for three years every penny I set aside was needed for one emergency after another. It soon became apparent that our dreams were likely to never see reality.

And then, one day, I got a catalog from Annie's Attic, announcing an INCREDIBLE contest, with a Grand Prize of $10,000!!! And I felt like I had been handed the answer to my prayers.

I sat down, and spoke with the Lord about what I could *possibly* make that would be both beautiful enough AND unique enough to win. And into my mind came the image of the Notre Dame Stained Glass Rose Window that I had given a presentation on at church several years before. I knew, if I could reproduce THAT window, I could win the contest.

It took me three months searching every yarn store and catalog I could get my hands on to find exactly the right colors of yarn to accurately catch the impression of sunlight streaming through ancient stained glass; it took my son's recent architecture and geometry class to help me figure out precisely the right dimensions so the finished afghan would be only about 6 feet in diameter; it took 6 months of trial-and-error, unpicking and trying something else to get a pattern that worked. But the end result was everything I had hoped it would be, and Annie Potter agreed. My Cathedral Window Afghan won the $10,000 Grand Prize, and my children got their never-to-be-forgotten trip to Walt Disney World.


  1. What hardware did you use to hang this beautiful afghan on the wall? I will be making this for my sister who has moved into a new home. Can you offer suggestions on how to hang it or secure it to the wall? Annie's attic could not give me any help with this. Thanks so much for designing this beautiful afghan. Debra Douglas

  2. Dear Debra,

    I actually keep mine spread out over my sofa or (at present) on my son's baby grand piano. I actually once draped it over a stair banister . . . .

    But, I *did* take a good look to see what Annie had done with the one I made for her to keep in her Tea Room there in Big Sandy Texas, which is the one she pictures hanging on the wall.

    The best description I have for the frame they used to mount the afghan on is a lightweight "wagon wheel." You could also consider it as a very large, wooden bicycle wheel.

    I don't know where you live; of course, in Texas an old-fashioned wagon wheel isn't that hard to come by. Other parts of the country, I would guess you could find something approximating that at fence stores or lumber yards, perhaps. It's basically just two concentric wooden rings held together with 6 or 8 "spokes" which you can then secure the afghan to with staples.

    When Annie secured my afghan to her frame, the scalloped edging stuck out beyond the rim, hiding the frame.

    I didn't see any strings or "picture hanging wires" connecting the frame to the wall, so I supposed that they just put a couple of good, sturdy nails into a couple of studs - - probably along the center spokes - - and supported it that way. It's a heavy enough afghan all by itself, and then when you add the wooden frame, you're talking MAJOR WEIGHT here! So you'd need more than one support.

    Looking at my own walls, the only other idea I have come up with is the "museum wires" concept: Place your support "nails" into studs at the top of the wall, and then hang the framed afghan by wires connected to the nails. The effect isn't quite as "magical" as having the afghan just "hanging there," but if you don't want to poke nail holes in the walls of the new home, it should work just as well.

    I hope these suggestions will be of help to you! Send me a pic when you get it done - - - I'd *love* to see the finished result!

    Yours Truly,
    Julene Watson

  3. I have loved this afghan from the time it came out. I told my self I was gonna make one and I did but it took me forever to make as I was not that fond of pieces to put together but I got it done and I entered it in our state fair for fun and it brought home the blue ribbon

  4. Hi Julene, im currently working on your beautiful Cathedral window afghan, its stunningly. I purchased the design on Annies Attic, but I would really like to crochet it in the original colours too. Can you help me where I can find a pattern with the original colours?

  5. Hi, Annita!
    The answer to your question may depend on where in the world you are. Can you purchase Red Heart Brand yarn in your area, or have it shipped to you from an online store like Herrschners?

    It took me 3 months searching every catalog and yarn store I could get my hands on to find exactly the right colors to get the effect I wanted for this creation: the effect of sunlight streaming through ancient stained glass.

    The good news is: you can still get most of the principle colors I used. They are made by Red Heart, and Red Heart yarn can be counted on to be consistent in their dye lots, year after year.
    So, if you want to recreate my original, $10,000 prize winner, buy the Black and White yarns in the Red Heart Super Saver size, and worsted weight, NOT the "sport weight."

    But, be SURE you get the main variegated color, Red Heart's "Wedgewoods," yarn in the 3 oz. "Classic" size and worsted weight. Even though it *does* come in the slightly-cheaper Super Saver size, the colors are NOT the same, and you will be more disappointed with the results of using the Super Saver size than you will be pleased by the few dollars you will save.

    It's the other "variegated" yarn for the smaller, purplish window panes that always proves problematic. I've had my yarn of choice discontinued on me 5 times now! So, I am constantly re-evaluating what is available that would give me that sunlight-through-old-stained-glass look, while, at the same time, blending pleasingly with the "wedgewoods" color scheme.

    If you have the time and patience, and access to a good yarn supply store, take a skein of the "Wedgewoods" yarn with you shopping and try to find a variegated yarn that pleases you. I never managed to find it in 4-ply, and ultimately tweeded two 2-ply yarns together to get the effect I wanted, which is why the pattern says to use two strands of the yarn for that section of the pattern. For those who purchase 4-ply variegated yarn now, using two strands results in half-circles that are honestly WAY too thick, and I strongly recommend you ignore that instruction. Do that ONLY if you find that you, too, must tweed two strands of 2-ply yarn to get the right look.

    As of Oct 25, 2016, Herrshner's sells a "Herrschner's Brand 2-py Afghan yarn" for $1.70 each in Pomegranate (#0057) and Teal (#0039), which, if you tweed one strand of each together, should give you just the right look for the half circles. I haven't checked recently, but if those two colors are NOT currently available, I'm confident they will carry something very similar to that.

    GOOD LUCK, and please do let me know how it turns out!!