Woman’s crocheted blankets and dolls are a family tradition

Gale Ungar need look no further than two special women in her life — her mother and grandmother — to inspire her custom-crocheted baby blankets and dolls.

“I started to crochet at age seven. My mother taught me. Her mother taught her,” said Ungar, a Redding resident. Both women have since passed away.

“My grandmother crocheted and sewed her whole life. She designed beautiful bedspreads and linens for all five of her daughters for their hope chests. My mom crocheted her whole life as well,” Ungar said.

Ungar has carried on the family tradition. Her crocheted blankets match themes of baby nurseries and kids’ bedrooms. Her dolls take the form of marine life, animals, or creatures she gets from patterns or pictures.

“I match a baby’s nursery or child’s room. I recently made a butterfly blanket for my niece,” she said.

She gets ideas for her creations from six crochet groups she joined on Facebook, as well as from Pinterest. “I saw a mermaid [online]. My niece in Florida wanted one so I made her a 36-inch mermaid,” she said.

Ungar’s doll work is known as amigurumi, which is a Japanese art of crocheting small  creatures, she explained.

“I’m always crocheting,” said Ungar, whose dolls can be time-consuming to make because of their “complicated patterns. They’re done in rows or spirals so you have to keep track of where you started.”

Her repertoire so far includes 20 characters. Some of these characters will be part of the 36th annual First Church of Christ, Congregational Arts and Crafts Fair on Sept. 30. “I haven’t done a crafts fair in 18 years. I used to do it for my paintings,” said Ungar who uses mostly watercolors to paint animals “out of my head,” she said.

Meanwhile, she will continue to crochet gifts for people she knows. “If someone is having a baby, they know they’re getting a blanket from me,” she said.

 Recently, Ungar finished the last blanket that her mother was working on for her father, but had never finished. “She made a blanket for each and every one of her children and grandchildren. It was always so special to receive a blanket from my mom, truly a labor of love. I don’t remember a time that crocheting wasn’t a part of my life,” she said.

Her blanket designs and the addition of her dolls have carried the tradition even further, she noted. “If my grandmother could see what I’m doing, and all the creatures I’ve created, she’d be fascinated. She’d freak out.”

Recently, Ungar bought some cotton crocheted doilies that remind her of ones her grandmother would make.

“I’m going to use them to sit my dolls on at the crafts fair. My mother would love them. She taught me simple stitches and I have been crocheting ever since. I now only use my mom’s crochet hook, Her presence is so real at times. I feel how proud she is that I continued her tradition.”

Ungar’s creations take shape in her free time at the home she shares with husband Dave Ungar, who is director of Weston Parks & Recreation Department. He and Gale, a special education secretary at the Redding Board of Education for the past 17 years, have three grown sons — Justin, 32, Daniel, 30 and Kyle, 27.

“My husband puts up with me,” Ungar laughs, telling how whenever she comes up with a new character or theme, she shows him to get a reaction. “I show my sons too. They’re all supportive and encourage me,” Ungar said.

The 36th annual First Church of Christ, Congregational Arts and Crafts Fair featuring fine arts and crafts exhibitors is Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Redding Center.


Redding resident Gale Ungar has a hobby and passion crocheting dolls and baby blankets.

Redding resident Gale Ungar has a hobby and passion crocheting dolls and baby blankets.


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