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081118-adh-nws-Flag Crochet01-my

Sandi Taylor of Lebanon poses with one of her "thin blue line" crocheted blankets, hanging in the entryway of the Lebanon Police Department. Taylor has made more than 100 flag-patterned blankets in two years.

LEBANON — Sandi Taylor is the type of person who brings yarn on a camping trip.

"I can't sit still," says the Lebanon woman, 59. "So when I'm sitting on the couch in the evenings, I crochet." 

And yes, camping, too. "I don't go anywhere without my yarn," she says.

Taylor's hobby is benefiting several of the mid-valley's law enforcement officers. Last June she presented the Lebanon Police Department with 30 hand-crocheted afghans, one for each sworn officer. This June, she did the same for Albany — 65.

The Albany Police Department honored Taylor at the Aug. 8 meeting of the Albany City Council, presenting her with a special certificate as thanks for her efforts.

Taylor has made more than 100 of the flag-patterned blankets so far, and she has another one in the works for one of her siblings.

"I don't ever get sick of yarn," she said, laughing. "I'm always doing something." 

Her friend Amy Slay of Cottage Grove knows this about Taylor, which is how the whole thing got started.

A couple of years ago, Slay was looking for someone to make an American flag afghan for a Wounded Warrior project, and contacted Taylor.

Taylor thought that might be fun — or, anyway, a change from her usual hats and baby blankets. She found a pattern, altered it a little to fit her own style and make it quicker to finish, and made a few red, white and blue-patterned afghans, each about the size to cover a twin bed.

And then she made a few more, for family members. 

And then, when Slay asked her if she could maybe do a flag in black and white with a blue stripe — the pattern law enforcement calls "the thin blue line" — she made one of those. 

That got her to thinking maybe her hometown Police Department might like a few. Or a few more. Or, hey, one for every single officer.

She ended up accidentally making one extra, which now hangs in a place of honor in the entryway of the Lebanon Police Department, right next to a photo of the June 2017 presentation of the afghans to the rest of the department.

After that presentation, Taylor got to thinking again, this time about her son, Juston Alexander, a sergeant with the Albany Police Department.

She figured he should have one. And maybe some of his 64 colleagues too. 

"I thought, 65, I don't know, that's a lot," Taylor recalled. "Then I did a couple. And then I just thought, what the heck."

Taylor's grandmother taught her to crochet as a teen. As an adult, Taylor wore braces on her arms for a time to cope with wrist pain, but found crocheting actually made the pain go away. With enough work, she found she didn't need the braces anymore. So she just kept crocheting.

It takes about three jumbo skeins of yarn and a good week's worth of work to complete one flag afghan, but for Taylor, it's the proverbial labor of love.

Her recipients have loved her back, she said. "I got a lot of hugs." 

What she didn't expect was formal Police Department recognition at this week's City Council meeting. She thought she was there only to honor her son, who was receiving a Lifesaving Merit Award with Officer Alex Johnson for keeping a man from jumping into the Willamette River last April. Even her husband had been sworn to secrecy.

"I was totally surprised. I didn't know that was going to happen," she said. "I might not have come!"

Taylor said she loved the flag pattern, in both sets of colors, as soon as she saw it. But when she's done with the one for her brother, she said she might take a short break.

"I need to make baby blankets or something for a while," she said.

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