Behold, the power of the blankie!

I've finished the first square of Becca and Logan's wedding present afghan. I'm slightly amazed by how challenging this was for me, considering I had assumed it would be the easiest square in the blanket. I had to knit the center part twice before figuring out how to create a perfect seed stitch, when the area and perimeter keeps changing; I kept winding up with double seed stitch on some rows and regular seed on the others. Eventually, I learned to focus on the pattern inside the heart, then count to the right; this means that sometimes you will knit a "knit stitch" even if it's counted as within the area of the seed stitch pattern. (That doesn't make sense, does it? Well, thanks for humoring me.) There were also some classic issues with following directions, due to post-work exhaustion....and being me.
Speaking of work, my first week back at school went smoothly. The kids are really neat, and I've made some major strides in my plan to go mostly paperless (the education world has a major paper waste problem). The knitter in me, however, was particularly struck by a phenomenon that emerged during my annual show-and-tell activity.
I always read this heart-rending story on the first day of school. It's about a young boy who helps his friend Miss Nancy, a nursing home resident, find her memories. First, he goes around asking all his other friends in the nursing home what memories are, getting answers like, "something from long ago," or "something that makes you laugh." Then little Wilfrid gathers precious belongings of his own that meet these descriptions and brings them to her. As she picks through the bizarre collection of trinkets, her own memories begin to emerge, and the resulting stories delight them both. After reading the picture book, I ask the kids to go home and do in kind: gather five tangible objects which represent their own memories and experiences.

  1. something that makes you laugh
  2. something that makes you cry
  3. something from long ago
  4. something as precious as gold
  5. something that keeps you warm
The sharing activity lays a rich foundation of oral histories and common struggles and victories, a deep well of possible writing topics from which we draw throughout the year. So, so many of these wealthy, hip, well-dressed kids brought "blankies," usually to represent "long ago," but also "precious" and "warm." There were handknit afghans, and quilts bought on impulse at the grocery store. There were blankets carefully pulled out of plastic which they had to beg mom to lend, and blankets which had been loved and loved until it was just a pathetic, matted pile of string. One big jock shared a pink blanket of his sister's, because he was afraid to bring his own important blanket to school. One sweet girl demonstrated that her knitted blanket had been cuddled and washed for so many years, she can now stick her head through one of the bigger holes and wear it as a poncho.

All those dear blankets, all that sacred fiber, whether woven by hand or machine, clawed at my heart. I thought about the blanket I made for Jake's grandad, a wise and generous man who has been beaten about by several cancers over the last decade--knowing that when he's home, watching television or reading, he likes to drape the apricot-colored cable blanket about his brittle shoulders. I thought of Temple and Dustin, the latest recipients of my handknits, snuggling under that cotton quilt while watching movies on the couch, their legs and hands happily intertwined the way newlyweds' are apt to do. I thought of the square-a-month blanket I'm knitting for North Dallas Shared Ministries, wondering who would eventually receive the brightly colored bundle and whether it would lift their spirits to know that someone in their own community knotted every stitch out of compassion for them, that they might be warm and comforted and relieved. I thought of Becca and Logan spreading my next afghan across the floor and stretching out on their bellies as a little cherub, my future niece or nephew, delights them with gurgles and mischievous grins. I wondered about the baby I'm longing for now. What would I make for her? Could enough focused devotion ensure its future as a cherished companion?

About now, I can't imagine doing anything more meaningful than making someone a blanket.

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