Long-lost project comes full circle

It took 25 years, a theft and a thrift store to reunite a woman with the crocheted tablecloth she was never able to complete

Dorothy Meakes and her Sidney sister-in-law Gladys Curry marvel at the good condition of the work that's been missing for about 25 years.

Dorothy Meakes and her Sidney sister-in-law Gladys Curry marvel at the good condition of the work that's been missing for about 25 years.

A mass of teeny tiny knots stitched together with a crochet hook, the partially completed tablecloth sat in a box at a Peninsula thrift store.

More than two decades since it was started, the dainty crochet cotton medallions awaited a home where someone could complete its mission in life.

Likely no one will ever know where it was for the 20-plus years it was missing, but last month it returned home.

June Temple of Saanichton spends three afternoons a week working in the Beacon Community Services second hand store in Brentwood Bay. She has done so for about 11 years and the other volunteers tend to save the fabric and yarn donations for her.

“They always leave the fabric and things for me because I’ve worked in fabrics and wools a long time,” said the former Sidney Capital Iron staffer.

“I couldn’t make out what it was … it didn’t look right,” she said of the incomplete crocheted tablecloth. “I knew one of the girls [at the Friendship Church knitting group] crocheted and it wouldn’t sell in the thrift shop because nobody would know what to do with it. And nobody seems to crochet these days. Gladys I knew would use it somehow, so I took it with me to my knitting group.”

Gladys Curry of Sidney is among those who gather at the church to create everything from lap blankets donated to seniors, to toques and mittens for Victoria’s homeless. Being the crochet diva of the crew, she opted to take it home. It looked remarkably like the tight, precise work of her sister-in-law Dorothy Meakes.

“I was dumbfounded,” said Meakes, remembering the day she arrived from Victoria to Curry’s Sidney home and saw the half finished lace tablecloth.

“She stood in the door there and said, ‘Where did you get that?’ I thought she was accusing me of having it in my bottom drawer,” said Curry with a laugh.

Meakes had been working on the tablecloth for her youngest daughter, having completed one for each of the girls in the family. She took it to Beacon Hill Park with her, and it was stolen from her car.

The two nonagenarians figure that was 25 years ago.

“I have to finish it. That’s all there is to it,” Meakes said, fingering the lace laid out on her sister-in-law’s dining room table. She must crochet about 40 medallions to finish the bulk of it, then there are the little squares connecting them. Though hindered by carpal tunnel cramps, she’s determined to get the work done.

“And then we will wash it. We don’t know where it’s been,” Curry said. “It’s a mystery. Wouldn’t it be nice to know?”

Temple, too, is stumped as to where it came from.

“It just was there one day when I turned up for work,” she said. “The hook was there with it and all the threads to finish it. It’s so weird, but we’ll never know. … It must have been somewhere all those years, and it wasn’t smelly, musty or anything like that. I’d love to know where it’s been.”