Friday, October 12, 2012

Wrapped in Love

Blanket, throw, blankie, suzzy, nana, TV quilt - I'm betting that you have one, or two, or three! My first "sick" quilt was was made by my grandparents and aunt Vonda, and presented to the family as a Christmas gift. It was a Raggedy Ann and Andy cotton print on top, and red checked flannel on the bottom, tied with red yarn. Only one problem - there was one blanket and 5-7 of us! We loved cuddling up in that blanket whenever we were sick, and that blanket was the first thing we asked for, knowing it was saved for sick days. I eventually inherited it, and it is tucked away with a few other childhood belongings, now too precious and worn to use.
My mother, seeing how much we loved this small (probably 36 x 36") throw, eventually made all of us our own. Mine is green and white, with eyelet trimming. Mom has continued with this tradition, making all of her grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren blankets. She's spent the past few years making Christmas quilts, in that same size, for the grandchildren. Can you imagine snuggling in that blanket from Thanksgiving to Christmas with warmth, hope, memories, and expectation surrounding you?
After marriage, I continued this tradition, making a throw for Clark and I - one big enough for the two of us, but light enough to cuddle up in all alone. When I became pregnant with Tyler, and then Jenna, the quilt I wanted however was the sick blanket or my green eyelet one - so many memories which brought so much comfort.
I made blankets for Tyler and Jenna, as did my mother, and so they were constantly surrounded with cuddles. In addition, they both had their own blankies, something they could drag around the house, turn to for solace, and hold while sucking their thumb (Tyler), or fingers (Jenna). These blankies were a precious commodity in our house - they never went to bed, took a nap, watched a movie, and sometimes wandering outside without them. Security blanket - I like the sound of that.
More than once the blankets would be misplaced, or dirty! Anticipation of finding or washing that blanket was high, and much relief when found or dried. I always kept doubles of the blanket, just in case!
Tyler had a favorite blanket, and while living in Brigham City, it was misplaced, or lost. Tyler could not be consoled! He cried and cried. We drove into town, stopped at one store after another, as he felt the blankets to see if any of them would suffice. Not a one did. So we ended up at the Deseret Industries (a Mormon Salvation Army) where he touched many blankets until he deemed one appropriate! There is a tattered piece of this blanket left - and it has certainly been memorialized.
One of the more difficult weanings came, not from nursing or diapers, but weaning the kids away from their blankets - I mean, how long can a child be seen carrying their blanket to church, preschool, or the restaurant?! So there were boundaries placed on those blankies - only at home, only in your room, only at naptime and bedtime.
Through all of this I have been a curator of old quilts, ones with historical significance, rather than comfort. I have a couple of crazy quilts, more than 100 years old, many quilts, several quilt tops and blocks, yet my favorite - one hand-pieced together with faded fabrics, backed with hog feed sacks, and stitched together with the thread from that feed sack - it is priceless. I've often wondered who snuggled in these quilts, and if they were kept warm and comforted.
I also quilt, beginning back to tying quilts with my grandmother, mother, friends, neighbors. I prefer hand-quilting, so many of my pieces are small, but I do have a quilt that is king-sized, over 100 hours put into the quilting, stitched together by friends and family. It is also tucked away safely. But the small pieces I've made - oh, they are certainly hanging on the walls in our home!
It's amazing the things you learn about women when your huddled around a piece of fabric, a wonderful time to share, to learn, to bond - isn't that what quilting, blankets are - a way to bond?
While living in Springville I became friends with Zora Mae, in her 90s and nearly blind, she spent her days sewing blankets together, and giving them to others - Primary Children's Hospital, humanitarian efforts, and to everyone who came to her home. She made more than 1000 throws in 10 years. I have three of them, the purple one in the photo is a gift from her.  
Blast forward many years, and Scott and I are both cuddlers. However, I love the security of a warm, heavy blanket, and Scott sleeps on top of the covers, with a light fleece throw, occasionally. We've compromised, and that is where throws have come back into our lives.
And this leads me to the past year. I've been in more pain in the past 13 months than I could have ever imagined. And what I reach for is not a funny movie, but a blanket, one that will comfort me, warm me, give me security. Yesterday, with my chemo headache pounding (oh, it will go away in about 48 hours), I found the sun in my bedroom, climbed onto our bed, and looked at my comfort-blanket options. A beautiful pieced quilt made by my sister, Sheri, and her daughter, Audrey (neither would call themselves quilters), a lovely off-white "minky" with a soft backing given to me by Autumn and Daniel, a green fleece purchased at Eddie Bauer years ago, or the lighter-weight $3 fleece, that fits so well into a suitcase, the new turquoise minky and fleece throw recently given to me by a friend who is a breast cancer survivor who said I would need a warm blanket during treatments, or Zora's purple blanket. Always I need warmth - warmth memories give me, history - the love put into each stitch by a blind woman, and scrappy - nothing expensive used to assemble this blanket, just lots of love and dedication.
So - my grandchildren now have blankets - Christmas ones made by great-grandma Walker, fleece throws and quilts by me, crocheted blankets by other grandmothers. A while back I was at Tyler's and Meili's, helping Tyli and Keegan make their beds. Tyli had made a nest out of her nanas, and then settled herself in this nest to sleep. Ava won't leave the house without two or three, and Keegan, although he's a tough three year old boy, loves his - and although these are similar in textures, they definitely know which one is their's. Jenna and Cliff's Tempest has her own style. She loves the soft soft bamboo blankets. And we have a suzzy here for naptimes and cuddles.
All of these, whether store bought or hand-made are pieces that evoke the memories of their origin, the giver, and the thoughts gone into the giving. 

Sorry to say, this bedspread was purchased - I love botanicals, and 
this was reaching out to me. It's beautiful in our tiny bedroom, but not cuddly.
 Sheri's and Audrey's art, Tempest's suzzy.

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