Mary Strickland crochets religiously. And at 96 years old, Strickland has finished her masterpiece: a 3 1/2-by-4 feet crochet wall hanging that spells out the Lord’s Prayer in all its 70 glorious letters.
Strickland’s granddaughter, Rhonda Russell, said whenever she opens the door to her grandmother’s Clermont home, she can expect to find her sitting down crocheting. The mother of two and grandmother of five said she spends up to eight hours a day crocheting in her living room.
"I enjoy it," Strickland said. "It’s all I can do. I can’t get out and sweep the yard."
Strickland regularly crochets doilies, Christmas tree aprons and bedroom shoes for friends and family members. She has also made more than 30 baby afghans for a program called Tiny Stitches that provides blankets for disadvantaged newborns in North Georgia.
But her greatest accomplishment to date, she said, is the cream-colored crochet piece hanging above the couch in her living room that features the Lord’s Prayer, complete with a depiction of praying hands.
"It’s the one I wanted everybody to see," Strickland said. "If they didn’t see it, I’d remind them to look at it."
The crocheted prayer hanging in her living room is only one of six prayers Strickland has crocheted over the past two years. She’s given the others away to her sons, her preacher and to her Sunday school class that she drives to every Sunday.
For each of the six crocheted prayers, Strickland said she used at least two spools of 1,000-yard cotton crochet thread. She said each of the approximately 175 rows took her at least 30 minutes each. And it took her four to six weeks of near daily crocheting to complete each prayer piece.
"I have to look at the directions every time I do it," she said. "I had to fix mistakes, but the prayer hands were the hardest part, just getting the crocheting into place."
Strickland said she has been crocheting for about 80 years, ever since her mother’s neighbor taught her the basics. But she adds that she’s been crocheting with directions for about 60 years, which enables her to create complex designs with lettering and depictions.
It was Strickland’s mother who sparked her interest in knitting at age 12 that led her to crocheting.
Strickland explained that knitting uses two or four needles, whereas crocheting uses just one needle.
Strickland said she still likes to read novels, but that it’s easier on her eyes to crochet instead. She said she crochets more as she gets older.
"I’ll keep on (crocheting) as long as I can see," she said. "I think that’s what keeps me here."