Perfection in every stitch for US Veterans

Col. James Fleming recieves his star spangled crochet blanket from Helen Martinez
By: 
Tabitha Fleming
Staff Writer

When the star spangled blanket that Helen Martinez had made for Colonel James Fleming was presented at the Elks 10th Annual Hutchinson County Veterans Appreciation Banquet, her name was not announced. She had requested to remain anonymous, but Colonel Fleming was so moved by the gift that he took the stage and begged the maker to come forward, threatening not to accept the gift if she didn't. She eventually did come up to the front of the banquet hall and as she approached, the Colonel wrapped his arms around her like a son home from war hugs his mother.
She made the crochet blanket using a skill she never learned as a child. Although she had tried numerous times to learn, she just couldn't master the single, double and treble crochets that are integral in all designs. Her work today is a shining example of perfectionism. The yarn throughout the flag blanket is evenly taught, a very important aspect of crochet from both and aesthetic and practical perspective.
Helen Martinez was 40 years old before she learned how to crochet. "There was a lady here in Stinnett, her name was Mary Swift, she had done the most beautiful crochet I've ever seen in my life." Helen remembered. "She was showing me her crochet, and I said, 'Oh I'd love to learn to do that,'" Martinez recalled, "She said, 'I can teach you,'" Even though Helen told Mary she had been trying but unable to learn from her aunt, Mary insisted that Helen try again under her guidance.
The first day was trying, for both teacher and student, "I sat there one whole day and didn't even finish a granny square," laughed Helen, "every time I'd make a mistake, she'd come along and say, 'Rip it out, start over." A granny square is a small square piece of crochet made from the center out in rounds.
Eventually Helen found her way and today she says she's still a perfectionist. "And still today, every time I make a mistake I see her face and hear her voice, "Take it out, start over' "
Helen says she loves the work and while she's not one for the spotlight, she's glad that her blankets have been so well received. She plans to keep making the blankets for future guests, and looks forward to many more years of crocheting.

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