colÂ·cha (koal-sha) noun. Portuguese word meaning quilt.
An outer covering, usually decorative, for a bed.
In Portuguese tradition a mother or grandmother would crochet a colcha for a new bride to include in the brideâ€™s dowry or wedding chest. This especially elaborate white cotton crochet colcha would often be used only on special occasions and might be handed down as an heirloom.
As a little girl I remember crocheting a long row of chain stitch that I would drag across the house, spiraling and zig-zagging, catching it on the furniture and the dog, the white cotton becoming a grayish-brown, my sticky hands coating the crochet hook with candy spit. I couldnâ€™t seem to turn the chain stitch around and begin a project.
My mother tried and tried to teach me the complicated â€œabertosâ€ and â€œfechadosâ€ (open and closed stitches) that made up her elaborate table runners, blankets, socks and dresses. I wanted nothing to do with these delicate white doilies and instead longed for striped sweat socks and logo t-shirts. As her cancer progressed, her award-winning designs grew. She found comfort in making more and more of these delicate objects. My mother passed away when I was seven years old, but she was sure to complete and present me with a beautiful, elaborate, white crochet bedspread: my wedding colcha.
25 years after those first lessons from mom, I found myself wanting to learn crochet and also to explore tradition, family and collaboration. I designed this project to explore collaboration and the space created by making something by hand as a group. I invited participants, scheduled meetings and made two amazing colchas. In this process I recognized that I wanted to share the script I followed with others who might be interested in this process. This site contains the documentation of the colchas which have already been completed and a free guide to encourage others to go on a similar journey of craft and collaboration. If you do take on the making of a colcha share your documentation on this website by contacting me.
thecolchaproject [at] gmail.com