Friday, February 20, 2009

A Tale of Three Blankets

Hannah's blanket

I have been rushing to finish a baby blanket this week for my second cousin's baby. Little Hannah joined our Shaker family just last week, thankfully bringing our pitiful little tribe up to about sixteen and that includes those saints who've married in. Hannah's great grandmother is my 101 year old great aunt.

Julie's faded holy baby blanket from Aunt Win, or is that holey?

I last saw my Aunt Win at her granddaughter's wedding (Hannah's mom) when at age 100, she got up and shook her tail feather to the song, Brick House by the Commodores. It goes without saying that that was awesome. Sixty odd years ago, she came late to parenting in her own life and so when her son moved to a new job, she moved too, obviously thinking that already in her seventies, she should take advantage of the time she had left spending it close to family. Thirty years, two grandchildren, holy communions, confirmations, birthdays, high school graduations, college graduations, graduate school graduations, great grandnieces, marriages and now her own great grandchild and here we all are still. It's an amazing story of faith, family and longevity with a sense of humor. My favorite letters from her over the years included the lines, "Still here, don't know why," and after the doctor gave her and her brother a clean bill of health in their nineties, the ever popular, "I told the doctor he's going to just have to take us out and shoot us."

She comes to my mind as I finish this baby blanket for her great granddaughter and I remember that she is the knitter of the pink and blue baby blanket made for me. I was never much of a blankie kid, preferring to suck my fingers for way too long in secret until sleepaway camp and an awkward discussion with a friend's parent caused me to break my dirty habit. But this blanket was always on my bed growing up, and has survived 45 years thus far. Sure it's got some moth holes and sure I peed in it once in the back of the car when I was little and couldn't make it to a toilet. But it's a treasure from a dear great aunt and should soon be bound for the Smithsonian with my size 8 jeans.

Julie's blanket, Ally's blanket, Hannah's blanket

Ally, on the other hand, was always a blankie kid. Ally's blanket is from Boots the Chemist in England. My friend, Jacqui "lent" it to me, only to watch it meld with Allison's body, and resignedly said to me when she was pregnant with her second kid, "I'm not getting that back, I guess." Nope.

Ally's blankie is called Blankie and he's a he and we all refer to him as Blankie. He's gone everywhere Allison's ever been. First torn by our shot putter babysitter, who wrenched it out of the stroller wheels with brute force when it became tangled, the hole was quickly stitched together with found yarn and an old crotchet hook. Blankie continued to open that same wound over and over, and each time we found some different yarn to stitch it back together. And that's how it's gone for 14 years. We left it in a cafe in Connecticut once and it's the only time I have hyperventilated and nearly passed out. The cafe owner Fed-Exed it to us on our vacation on Block Island and I literally tore the box open in the post office to reunite the lovers as violins crescendoed and cameras panned wide. Blankie always flies carry-on (even as a little girl, Ally knew luggage stowed was subject to disappearance) and most recently, we nearly left him behind in Morocco in the riad. She refuses to talk about it still.

And so what goes around comes around in this story. This little pram blanket has been stitched together from many squares made by us three girls when Chip flew back to the US to be with his dad in August. We were desperate for a project to keep our minds busy and our grief in check. It makes me sad to finish it because I feel like I've had him with us in this blanket. But I know how he would have loved to get closer to 101 than he did, and that he would love that there is a new blankie stitched in his memory for a brand new baby. We send along with this blanket all the good energy and love that created it.


  1. Nice blog, Julie. Thanks.
    Beautiful blanket too.

  2. Faye beat me to it. It is a beautiful blanket, in many ways. With a rich heritage all around.

    Lucky baby.