Friday, April 28, 2006

The power of the needle

Ever think about how powerful the knitted (or crocheted) objects we make can become?
Last night, at dinner, my husband, sons & I started reminiscing about things they did when they were babies when we sat at dinner. We laughed and giggled at our imitations of baby excitement and messiness. Then, my husband says to my 6 year-old, "Your great-aunt made you a yellow blanket that you carried around so much until it was a tiny scrap..." Grant's face falls into such sorrow I thought my heart would burst.
"Yes," he sobs.
I take him into my lap and Dad says - "I have something special for you..." and leaves the dining table.
We had no idea that he remembered his blankie so well. When we run into friends from preschool and I ask, "This is A., remember her from preschool" he says no. Other dear friends and relatives who have passed away recently also seem to have passed from his memory. But not his yellow blankie.
Now, the backstory. When Grant was born in 1999 his great-aunt, Joyce, crocheted him a lovely blanket in yellow & white. We lost it on an airplane trip to see the grandparents in Washington State. It was disastrous - I thought I could walk into a local knitting shop and buy one just like it, but no. Joyce obliged and crocheted another. Unfortunately, our housekeeper has a yen for bleach (anyone relate?) and over the years the blanket shrunk into smaller and smaller pieces. I even took it to another LYS and asked the owner to make a duplicate - but by then, Grant just would not be deceived by an imitation.

Cut to: our spring break visit with Aunt Laura, Uncle Michael & Cousin Adelaide in Washington DC. Of course, the scrap of blanket is an essential item. It is about 5 inches long. Every bedtime, for over a year now, we'd hear the refrain: "Where's my yellow blanket?" and we would search frantically so that bedtime would go without a hitch. It is time to pack and go, and we CANNOT FIND THE YELLOW BLANKET.

It is difficult, but a relief, as Grant is forcibly weaned from his blankie. We persevere. Several weeks later, this post arrives from Aunt Laura:

Dateline: (WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- A fragment of textile was excavated early today from a secret toy cart in the K. household on G. Road. The yellow and white ornamental fringe appears to be the remnant of a larger work of art that apparently held deep meaning for its owner, possibly a young boy, who carried the scrap far and wide in his travels.
Researchers speculated on how the artifact came to rest in the repository. Was it placed there on purpose? Was it left behind by mistake? Was the cart actually an early 21st century sarcophagus and the beloved ratty material an offering to the gods?
"It was mixed in with a small plastic dinosaur and other ribbons and scraps of what could have been arts and crafts materials," states Adelaide J-K-, an expert in rare childhood totems who has been involved with this dig for the better part of her career. "Unless you were intimately familiar with the fine points of toddler culture, it would be easy to overlook. I mean, a find of this magnitude doesn't surface every day."
As stipulated by UNESCO, the artifact is expected to be repatriated to its native land, known as the San Fernando Valley, in the near future.

Cut to: San Fernando Valley, late spring 2005. The article and remnant arrives. After much consideration, we decide to hold it as a treasured artifact of Grant's childhood. Surely, he is coping well without it. No more do we have to look for his yellow blanket every bedtime. It sits in a well-guarded spot in Daddy's office... until last night.

His joy at reunification was sky high. He held it to his cheek, his tears dried. We went into my office/knitting room/WALL OF YARN, and discussed what to do. Perhaps we could tie it to a larger piece? I could knit another blanket that includes it? I could make a pillow?

I found two squares I had made about a year ago, one the dahlia pattern from Jan Eaton's 200 crochet squares, another a square of single crochet from Bollicine and Wendy Velvet yarn together in 3 colors. We decided to sew the squares together like a pillow, encapsulating the remnant. The dahlia pattern was knit at such a gauge that it was open enough that you could reach in and feel the old 'yellow blankie'. When I sewed it to the single crochet square of stripes, I left an opening just big enough for Grant's hand to reach through and touch his special blanket. He was pleased. He wants me to attach it to a bigger blanket, knit (or crocheted) just for him, with Big Boy yarn. I can't wait.
I think about it and consider how he has carried this loss and hurt inside for so long, and think about the losses and hurts that we all carry inside. I can't say they are bigger or deeper than the loss of a blankie but I know I am blessed to be able to take at least this hurt of many he will have in life, kiss it, knit it, and make it better.


Knitcrazy said...

Awwwwwwwww.. What a Wonderful and Sweet Story....
A Blankie he will cherish forever!!!


:) XX Penny

Aunt Laura said...

All's well that ends well.

Kathy said...

Rebecca, what a wonderful story...and so beautifully written, a little
crocheted-square quilt of a tale. I am going to pass the URL on to
several friends whose children carried around "blankets" that had
dwindled to nearly nothing -- they looked like lint balls.


Ellin said...

That was a great 'blankie story' AND with a happy ending, which may be a first in blankie story history. Your knitting is incredibly beautiful too. EH

xydrella said...

Oh gosh I cried! I too know the love of a blankie and have seen so many others who have experianced the same. Beautiful story, absolutley beautiful :)

MysteryKnitter said...

Beautiful story indeed, I agree.

mehitabel said...

When my second son brought his wife and new baby here (from CT) for their first visit to his growing-up home, one of the first things he did was take her to the linen closet in the hallway. He reached back into its depths and pulled out a pillowcase holding the remnants of his "pal." She didn't know if she was more surprised that he knew where it would be, or that it would still be there 20 years later. (PS--it's now 16 years later and it's still there.)