When my grandmother taught me to crochet at 8 years old, never did I think I would be crocheting something I would need thousands of miles of yarn to make, or that I would be using that much yarn to make giant fruit. Life is full of surprises. The 6-foot Giant Strawberry would have made my grandmother smile.
This project started when I participated in Fayetteville, Arkansas for the Green Candy/Just Kids Public Art Event. In the past, I had crocheted a 6-foot Pineapple for StayPineapple Hospitality’s Hotel The Alise in Chicago. It turned out that Fayetteville wanted a large piece of fruit for their own and I was just the gal to do it. I have had a few ask if I have a pattern for this monstrous project. That question blew my mind when I thought about the process during the 3 weeks it took to finish (* disclaimer, it was a dedicated 3 weeks). How would I write a pattern for this? I don’t think I could, but I can give you step by step instructions and my experience through it.
First, you need to obtain a giant inflatable in the shape of a strawberry. There are companies out there that custom make any shape or size. This makes it easier to transport a gigantic strawberry.
So now that you have waited 2 weeks for the inflatable… now to find a room or space big enough to inflate it. Go ahead and splurge on the electric air pump.
As it fills with air, you are hit with the reality that this thing is huge. Way more huge than you could ever expect. Panicking that it will blow up in your face, or there is a sewing needle on the floor, is recommended but not necessary. I realize these inflatables are lot more sturdy than I think. It’s pretty much a giant exercise ball. But with deadlines and the time invested, I sure didn’t want to test it out.
Now it’s all blown up. It’s gigantic. It’s wobbling all over the room. You can’t get a grip. Mostly from laughing because this thing is about as comical as it gets. WHERE is the Benny Hill music when you need it??
Next step is to get a stand for it. I called on my sweet carpenter friend who never flinches at my bizarre requests. He built a wooden stand, almost like a hollow bowl. I don’t know how he did it, but it worked and I was forever grateful.
With the stand, you can finally have it secured and begin work on it.
With the giant inflatable is in place and looming over you, pay attention if you have cats, please have a sit down with them, that this is not a toy. One of the kitties here at the house had to give it at least one swat, but quickly ran when I screamed in terror. (Even more terrifying to hear your screams echo inside the inflatable). All I could think of is Not today Kitty. Not today.
Start crocheting red squares. I chose to use different shades of red to make it more interesting. I loved using Red Heart Super Saver in Hot Red, Grenadine (my fave), Metallic Red for some shine and Rouge. On a large piece such as this, Granny Squares are ideal for me. I feel that I can piece them together like tiles. Most smart people would measure out and do the math before attempting to cover something like this. Well I just went for it. I crocheted Granny Squares approx 6×6 inches. When I got 20 of them done, I sewed them into a long strip and went to measure around the largest part of the inflatable. Came to find out I need 18 squares for that row, so I figured I need about 100. Sounds about right? I think. Hmm we shall see.
When Crocheted squares are finished, it’s time to sew them around. Hello, gigantic Red Strawberry balloon. Introduce yourself because you two are about to get very close.
Sew the first strip of 18 around and connect so now it looks like a huge strawberry with a crocheted sweatband on.
Sew each square on, one at a time, row by row. Stretching the crochet so it is on there nice and tight. Use a rounded yarn needle and learn to sew up and out so you don’t risk poking the inflatable. During this process, invite a friend over and don’t tell them what you have going on. Could be my favorite part of this project. When I sewed the 100 squares on, I realized I need about 50 more. Basically, I crocheted red squares until it was covered. You can not be a control freak on something like this.
Now all the squares are sewn on and you feel a great sense of accomplishment. Your back may ache or you may discover you are a contortionist now. At one point when I was working on the bottom half, I was laying on the floor and thinking, “So this is what a mechanic feels like.” There is a lot of physical work involved in this process so do a little stretching.
It is time for leaves! Because I rarely use patterns, and I didn’t think I could find a pattern for a 2-foot giant strawberry leaf, I relied on the image in my head. I chained 20 and increased to about 80 and decreased until it looked like a leaf. I am a fast crocheter, but each leaf took one day to make. This was probably the hardest part for me. A lot of counting and time-consuming. Do that 5 times using Red Heart Super Saver in Tea Leaf Green.
Get on a ladder and sew the leaves on like they would be on a strawberry. Right?
The Strawberry is covered….now what? Decorations! I chose to crochet bees and blossoms. Again, I used the image in my head and increased and decreased until it looked how I wanted it. Get back on the ladder and sew on anywhere! Oh, and I can’t forget about the seeds! I used Red Heart Super Saver in Gold and once again, used the image in my head for what a giant strawberry seed would look like. Pretty much chained 18, then sc, hdc, dc, trc, dc, hdc, sc Sounded good to me. Sew them on randomly like they would be on any 6-foot strawberry. For me, the seeds were one of my favorite parts. Once the seeds got sewn on, it really came to life.
Ta Da! You are now a proud owner of a humungous Strawberry. Maybe it would be cute in the kitchen? Front yard? Community picnic?
The one I created was first at the Walker Stone House and is now at the Experience Fayetteville Building in Fayetteville, AR receiving hugs and love from the community and visitors passing by. Why? Some things are just best not explained I guess. When it comes to creating art, to me, it is an emotional experience. If you see something and it makes you smile, that is all you need to know.
About the Author
Gina Rose Gallina, Crochet Artist in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Her passion is creating crochet sculpture, costumes and anything whimsical, colorful and challenging. She began crocheting at age 8 when her grandmother taught her to make hats for newborns. Gina was not introduced to patterns until earlier this year; she honed her crocheting skills with nothing but her imagination and passion. This has helped her form her unconventional approach and find the perfect outlet for her creativity as an artist. She recently learned to read and write patterns is further exploring new sides to the crochet and knitting world and continues to learn and be inspired.