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Jumpers and Jazz in July 2021 – Did de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

If there is one good thing to come out of 2020, it's having a bonus of 12 months to work and complete my jumper for the 2021 Jumpers and Jazz in July tree jumper exhibition! If the festival had not been postponed last year, I would have completed my jumper in time for installation. The postponement meant that I could review and then make a bold decision to pull apart the almost completed serape blanket element and start again. The shape was wonky, and I was not happy with the SC stitch look.

Before I even starting crocheting the serape blanket, I planned the stripe sequence by counting the rows on a blanket that I own and transcribing it into an Excel spreadsheet! I love a spreadsheet at the best of times, and it was perfect for this task! I knew how many colours were needed and could adjust depending on the colours available. Hooray for being a nerd and loving spreadsheets!

After starting the serape blanket in November 2019, I became aware of and fell in love with mosaic crochet. Fast forward to April 2021. I started on the remake blanket and 'frogged' (pulled out the rows) the original blanket, recycling the yarn in the new blanket.

A Sixel paid pattern provided the amazing skulls used for the black and white top blanket and the blanket's top feature stripe. Unfortunately, I could not find the right pattern online for the feature stripe typically seen in serape blankets. So, I made one! This was my first attempt at creating a mosaic crochet pattern. I'm delighted with how the stripe turned out. The sugar skulls featured on the altar were also made last year. But, if I am honest, I was not looking forward to decorating them. I am not an experienced embroiderer, so the thought of embroidering flowers onto them was not one I was wild about. A trip to Melbourne to visit friends and family provided me with an opportunity to assist my cousin with a craft project. It turned out it was embroidery and not crochet. I followed some simple instructions in that session, which turned out to be the flowers and dots that I needed for the sugar skulls! Thank you, fate.

Synchronicity has played a major part in the creation of this jumper. So many times, I was left jaw open thinking, 'oh my goodness, what?' with how bits all fell into place. I could fill a novel if I were to list them all. But, perhaps it's best to focus on the special one. I did not intend to tribute this jumper to my dad. And to be honest, I hadn't even associated him with it. That only happened when I realised I had to book time off to stitch the jumper onto the tree. Noting the installation date, I realised that it was the date of my father's funeral. The theme and date coinciding made for perfect timing. I knew right then that I was dedicating the jumper to Murray.

I start to think about a theme for a jumper for 'next year' as I am installing my jumper. In 2019 I thought, mmm, Mexican food as I stitched on my sushi themed jumper. Then I realised that I could make sugar skulls asI am quite down with making a skull. The idea bloomed in making a serape blanket, with a Day of the Dead altar, and off a started on the design. With the gap last year, I had actually started on next year's theme ideas before installation day.  I think I have settled on a concept. It'll bounce around in my head for a while before starting the pattern making phase and commencing the crochet phase.

A lot was learnt by making this blanket. I have added new crochet skills and techniques to my repertoire. The recognition of my abilities in being named as the winner of the Excellence in Knitting and/or Crochet section is truly magical. I am grateful and congratulate all winners and entrants on producing such extraordinarily stunning pieces.