Seven decades on, crochet remains a refuge for Judson Park resident

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October 22, 2020 -- For nearly 70 years, Marian Shipley’s artistic spirit has been fueled by her love of crochet. Not just any crochet, though – three-dimensional characters, animals and scenes. A wizard with a needle hook and yarn, her creations are limited only by her imagination.

“It’s trial and error when making your own pattern, but I enjoy it,” said the 88-year-old Shipley from her home at Judson Park senior living community. “My imagination goes wild.”

Intricate handcrafted scenes – Cinderella and her pumpkin carriage, a nativity complete with camels, cows and sheep, pilgrims and a turkey, and even Michelangelo’s famed Last Supper – decorate her apartment. Currently, she’s consumed by an elephant and maharaja, all one-inch to one-foot scale. On the horizon, biblical Daniel in the lions’ den.

“I see something, and my mind just goes crazy,” she laughs, adding she spends hours on and off throughout each day on her projects. She estimates a single theme can require more than 1,000 yards of yarn.

For most of her childhood, undiagnosed dyslexia wreaked havoc on her ability to keep up in class. While written words were a source of incredible anxiety, art was her refuge.

“I had a lot of problems reading, but I was very artistic,” she said. “It was very frustrating. My teachers thought I just wasn’t paying attention.”

Encouraged by her mother, a kindergarten teacher, Shipley pursued drawing, mostly portraits. At 15 she learned to knit, and at 19 she picked up crochet. She hasn’t put down the needle hook since.

She credits her lifelong hobby with keeping her mind active and engaged during the pandemic, and the benefit of nearby family.

“My daughter-in-law lives in Renton, and she orders and brings by any supplies I need,” she added. “My apartment is on the first floor, so we play Romeo and Juliet. She and my son stand about 20 feet away, and they bring anything I need.”

Click here to read the article in the Seattle Patch.

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