Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Poppies for Remembrance

  There's something I see in my generation and younger: The importance of history and remembrance has been forgotten. When Stella of Purfylle asked me about crocheting poppies for Australia's Z-Special Unit and the crew of the HMAS HDML 1321, I asked "why poppies?", but I was soon thrown back into memories. A silk flower with a tag on it, remembered from childhood. Something, perhaps, not American? Oh, but it is. This flower has been and still is used as a memorial symbol in America, Canada, Australia, and more. However, it seems to have gone out of style around here... To be as forgotten as the history no one is interested in saving.

  For Veterans Day in America, and Remembrance Day everywhere else... In honor of the HDML 1321's crew and the Z-Special Unit, in remembrance of every fallen soldier, and with respect to a special veteran who has passed - my good friend Don, who taught me the importance of preserving history: Because without recognition of history, we would never have appreciation for the present.

Poppies, for Remembrance.

This pattern creates a flower with a diameter of 3" (7.5 cm) in worsted weight yarn. A lighter weight yarn could be used for a smaller poppy.

Skill level:
crochet, international pattern symbols, easy

Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn (or any other yarn)
-I used scraps of Caron One Pound in Black and Caron United in Cherry
Hook size H/8 - 5.50 MM
Yarn needle

Not important. One round of 12 single crochet measures 1" (2.5 cm) across.

Yarn weight and hook size could be changed for a smaller flower.

Chains at beginning of rounds do not count as a stitch unless noted.

A standing single crochet is used once. In case you're not familiar with this method, it is noted in the pattern where you can replace this stitch. (Or, follow the example to learn!)

Pattern is worked in two pieces and attached using the tails to save yarn and time. If you do not leave sufficient ends for sewing, you can use a separate piece of yarn to sew the pieces together.

Step by step examples can be found in sections of the written pattern. The numbers in bold parenthesis (1-3) are to mark the corresponding photo, and are not a stitch count or part of the pattern.

Stitches (American terms)
Single crochet
Half-double crochet
Double crochet
Triple crochet

Standing single crochet - Yarn over the hook from back to front, keeping the tail of the yarn to the front of the hook. Insert the hook in the designated stitch, holding the tail securely against your work. Yarn over, pull up a loop (2 loops on hook). Yarn over, pull through both loops.
*In the example below, you see the yarn tail below the hook in step 2. Your tail should be above the hook during this step, not as pictured. (It really requires two hands; without holding the yarn secure during this step, it will just pop off the hook.) You can see in steps 4 and 5 how the tail should be trapped inside the stitch.


Bottom piece -

Round 1:
With red (Cherry), chain 3. Make 12 double crochet in the farthest chain from the hook. Join with a slip stitch to the first double crochet made.
(12 double crochet in round)

Round 2:
Chain 2 (counts as stitch!), half-double crochet in the first available stitch (1).
*(2 double crochet, 2 triple crochet) in the next stitch (2). (2 triple crochet, 2 double crochet) in the following stitch (3).

2 half-double crochet in the next stitch, slip stitch in each of the following 2 stitches (1).* Make 2 half-double crochet in the next stitch. Repeat from * to * to complete the round (2). Join with a slip stitch to the beginning chain-2 (3).

Bind off, only weave ends to outer edge of Round 1.

Top piece -

Round 1:
With black, chain 2. Make 12 single crochet in the farthest chain from the hook. Join with a slip stitch to the first single crochet made.
(12 single crochet)

Bind off and weave in all ends.

Round 2:
*Before you begin, check out the method below for adding extra detail to the center. 
With red, join with a standing single crochet in any stitch of Round 1.
(-Or, slip stitch and chain 1. The chain-1 will then count as the beginning single crochet.)
Make a half-double crochet in the same stitch.

*(2 double crochet, 2 triple crochet) in the next stitch (1). (2 triple crochet, 2 double crochet) in the following stitch (2). (Half-double crochet, single crochet) in the next stitch (3).

Chain 1, skip 2,* (single crochet, half double crochet) (1). Repeat from * to * to complete the round (2). Join with a slip stitch to the standing single crochet (or chain-1). Bind off, weave ends (3).

A quick tip for adding detail:
After making more and more of these, I discovered an out-of-the-ordinary trick that saves time. If you would like to add a little extra detail to the center and work over the tail without having to weave it in, check this out:

 After working over the tail for a few stitches, I dropped my working yarn and put the tail on a yarn needle. Beginning from the back, I brought the yarn through the stitches of round 1. I made a few flowers with the details running vertically over the stitches, but decided I liked the horizontal stitches more.

 Stitch back to the beginning stitches of round 2, and run the yarn through the bottoms of the stitches made. Continue working over the tail for the rest of round 2, and you'll have one less tail to weave in!

Line up centers of top and bottom pieces, with petals perpendicular to each other. Use tails of the bottom piece to sew through the top piece, over the bottom of the stitches of round 2. Sew over chain-1 space of round 2 (top piece) and pull tight. Weave remaining tails through pattern to secure.

 Sew over chain-1 spaces to give the petal extra depth.

Weave in remaining ends on the back side.

Why these poppies are important to me:
  I met my friend Don when I was about 20, and heard his stories almost every day after becoming his neighbor. From tales of how he set the outhouse on fire as a kid to running away at 16 to join the army, I learned his whole life history and so much more. While others rolled their eyes at the ramblings of an old man, I listened to the love he had for his fellow soldiers, his respect for his country, and his appreciation for the chance to learn about other cultures.

  Don spent some years in Japan during World War II, never seeing battle but losing many friends. He never asked for thank-you's for his service, but he did ask for respect to fallen soldiers and for their stories to be retold - so much more than what's found in textbooks. He wanted the people and their sacrifices to be remembered, so we would never forget what they lost so we could live the lives we live today.

free crochet pattern, poppy flower, Remembrance Poppies, #LestWeForget

  Also known to be a bit of a prankster, Don would have loved some of the antics mixed into the history of the Z-Special Unit. I crocheted eight poppies - Seven for each of the crew of the HMDL 1321 who lost their lives during Operation Copper, and one extra to represent every other fallen soldier. Crocheting a flower isn't much in return for a life, but it is a step towards commemorating the sacrifice that was made. Saving the HDML 1321 so it can be appreciated by future generations is an even bigger step.

 Find the free crochet pattern for the Z-Special Unit's dagger here.


Please share and use #saveHDML1321 to help!

Happy Crocheting!

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