Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Festive New Use for an Everyday Crochet Item

As part of a Kuwaiti tradition, there is a mid-Ramadan Celebration called "Gergiaan".  Children dress up in traditional costumes, go door to door and sing a special Gergiaan song, and then are given candy in return.  It has also become customary for families with small children, to give candy to friends and family.  The trick is to come up with a creative way of presenting the candy.  In previous years, we have put candy in:  teapots, mock oversized candy and walnuts, in bundles to look like dates hanging from a palm tree we fashioned out of wood and cardboard, and last year we filled a big treasure chest with candy and toys.

This year I really wanted to do something with crochet, and was inspired by Linda Permann's Azalea bowls from the Summer 2011 issue of Interweave Crochet.  I thought about crocheting bowls and stiffening them, but my problem was time.  I needed to make 30 of them in a week.  Luckily, I had a flash of inspiration from something my husband wears every day in Kuwait.  It is called a "gaffiyah" and it is worn as part of the traditional headgear, under a white "guttrah" or red and white checked "shumag".  They are the right size and come in a variety of interesting designs.  I was planning to buy them and stiffen them in to bowls, when my husband suggested that I use them as is and place them on actual bowls to save even more time.  I loved that idea because I had been wondering how I was going to stiffen so many at one time.  Next, we went out searching for the perfect bowl.  I had a gaffiyah in my purse and kept pulling it out to try on bowls in the shop.  I noticed the confused looks of the people who worked in the shop, but we carried on until we found the best fit.  Then we bought an assortment gaffiyahs, and took the whole lot home to work on.  

The first thing I noticed, was that each gaffiyah was a little different size.  Some fit on the bowls easily and some kept popping off.  So I sprayed the difficult ones with water first, and used clamps to hold one side to the top edge while I stretched the other side to fit.  Amazingly, with a lot of patience, I got all but two of them to fit the bowls.  One was just too big, and the other one I was able to use, but I wasn't able to stretch it over the rim of the bowl.  I decided not to glue the gaffiyahs to the bowls in case anyone wanted to use the bowl in the kitchen and wear the gaffiyah later (I like things to be reusable!).  Instead, I used a little double-stick tape to secure them to the bowls.  I love how they look stretched over the bowls, I think it really showcases the beauty of the crochet work.

When people first saw them wrapped up in cellophane, they thought we had just bought baskets.  They were pleasantly surprised to discover another way a gaffiyah could be used!

Filled with Candy and Ready for the Party!