In terms of things, I think it is possible this is my greatest ever creation. It’s the culmination of a years worth of work, a square a week, through one of the toughest years of my life. It has a story, a huge and enormous story, a story no mother would ever want to tell. it was inspired by lots of people but first of all by my friends Nic and Layla, who knitted on a holiday we went on together while I was pregnant with Freddie.
On our next holiday as a group, I took some wool and another friend, Alison, helped me choose some colours to make the baby a blanket. I knew I was having a boy and the colours were mostly blues anyway, so that is what Freddie got, a blanket knitted with love for our last baby.
I learned 20 new stitches and a fair bit of patience making that and it was finished except for the crochet on the back, the night before he was born.
Unfortunately Freddie only got to use it on the last night of his life, the one night I held him in my arms all night – and he was wrapped in it as he died. It is, nonetheless, the most precious material thing I own and I hold it in my arms every night.
It means a lot to everyone; Josie regularly snuggles Freddie’s two toys into it if she thinks they cheering up.
But after that, I didn’t think I would ever want to knit again.
I’d forgotten, that while pregnant I had promised 5 year old Josie a blanket just like it and grieving big sister as she was, she was too little to be subtle and she didn’t let me forget. So, when we went on holiday last year, just 5 weeks after his death, I used original squares I had discarded from Freddie’s blanket and I finished one for her. Just a little dolly sized one, for her Baby Stella doll.
While we were away, we visited a friend who showed me her beautiful crocheted blankets. I was inspired – and so when we came home, I made a start. One square a week, just something to keep my hands busy, my brain resting and something to remind me each week that I had survived another week without my baby boy.
I knew I had turned a corner when I stopped needing to complete squares and I got a little behind in the run up to what should have been his first birthday. But then it occurred to me that it would be nice to finish it when we went back to Lower Hookner and I got going again. I knitted wildly, even in the car on the way down and by the time I got there, I only had one square left to knit.
Then all the girls and Max (and Jake the dog!) helped me to plan out the arrangement of the squares. I’d knitted random colours because although my bedroom is blue and it is my favourite colour, I couldn’t bear to knit blue to start with. So I wasn’t really sure if it would work or not.
By the last day, it really didn’t look like I’d get it done, especially when I accidentally attached two strips the wrong way round and had to undo a pre crocheted side and alter the design. But all the way through I decided that mistakes were part of the fabric of this blanket, part of its story and the journey of making it.
There was a scary moment when I realised I was going to run out of the black edging wool for crocheting it together. We went to Bovey Tracey and spied this yarn shop – hurrah! – it had a Rowan sticker in the window – hurrah! but a note on a chair in the door to say closed for stock taking. But they very kindly sold me two balls of what I needed anyway and I took them a team picture in exchange. This is possibly the most divine yarn shop I have ever been in. Thank you ladies.
This blanket isn’t in memory of Freddie, it’s in honour of the year since he died, of the journey and the process of recovering a bit. All 147,000 stitches, all 4 1/2 km of knitted wool, almost 1 km of crocheting, has been done with the knowledge that my son is gone and I am not. I’ve cried a lot, knitting this blanket, but in the end, it has made me really pleased and proud. And it is gorgeous, a real hug of a blanket to be wrapped in.
It’s been such a thing, this blanket. Thanks to Freddie and his big sister Josie and all those people along the way, I’ve gained and retained a hobby that will last a life time. It’s something I’d like to share. So if you fancy having a guess at how many different shades of wool are in this blanket, pop a comment with your guess in the comments box (preferably with a hurrah too!) and the closest guess will win these 5 balls of Rowan Wool Cotton and the needles that knitted nearly half the blanket.
(Hint for counting the colours in the blanket: lots of Rowan Wool Cotton, a bit of nameless something, some Rowan Handknit and some Sirdar!)
Please join in, it would make me smile.