A Tale of Three Blankets

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.

Freddie's Blanket

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.

IMG_4249
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.

Josie's Blanket for Baby Stella

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.

7 Squares DoneBlanket Squares

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.


A very special mini replica of Freddie’s blanket.

The race was on… everywhere we went that week I had a crochet hook and wool, hemming the squares being the first job.

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.

After that, I went everywhere with bundles of squares, crocheting them into strips.

These made pretty amazing scarves.

In nearly every shot I took on holiday, what you can’t see is a bundle of blanket bits on my lap.

We wondered if it was as long as Tom Baker’s Doctor Who scarf?

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.


But, especially thanks to Max doing most of the packing up and waiting for half an hour, it was done. And I was so proud.

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.

  26 comments for “A Tale of Three Blankets

  1. Anne-Marie
    June 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    That is an absolutely beautiful blanket, and such a lovely story of its completion. The square replica of Freddie’s blanket brought tears to my eyes. Again ;-)

    I don’t knit I’m afraid so I shall guess the silly number of 436 instead of something more sensible like 24? A huge HURRAH for you, knitting, crocheting, blankets and family :hugs:

  2. Naomi
    June 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Wow that’s amazing! It’s beautiful.

    I’m going to guess at 99 colours.

  3. Allie
    June 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I have no idea! Will ask my knitter to guess. Beautiful, Merry. x

  4. June 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    What an absolutely gorgeous post – I’m moved to tears. Such a precious thing for a precious child but I love the way you have carried on with it and made it into such a labour of love. Beautiful.

    I have no idea but I’m going to say 432.

  5. Deborah Curry
    June 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I guess 32 colours :) love the blankets and hearing your stories – I’m glad that knitting has brought you such peace x

  6. Maggie
    June 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Well done babe, a really precious blanket :)

    100 shades

  7. Claire
    June 9, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    It looks even better than I imagined it would now it’s all together! It’s beautiful.

    I am guessing 48.

  8. Nikki
    June 9, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Wow! What a fantastic achievement! It looks lovely and I’m sure will always be very precious to you all. I will guess 38 shades.

  9. June 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Merry, this post has me crying bitterseet tears. the blanket is beautiful, and I know how much it will mean to you to use it in the coming years. I have a similar blanket knitted for me by loving friends and i know how much that one means to me.
    I’m rubbish at guessing games, but totally random, I’m going to day 28. :0)

  10. June 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Lovely blanket xx

    I’ll guess 44

    Emma x

  11. June 9, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Amazing!! What an incredibly beautiful blanket (and story behind all 3). I’m feeling inspired now, have just started knitting but am to scared to try anything other than squares but if I did lots of squares maybe I could produce a blanket of my own, most probably not quite as gorgeous though!

    I tried to count and got a bit confused but am going for 50 colours.

  12. Jenny
    June 9, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Something so beautiful from so much pain. I’m guessing 104.

    xx

  13. June 9, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Great blanket. Well done. Not only for the knitting, but also for the journey – and for sharing it here.

    I won’ guess the number of colours because my stash is (blushes) rather large and I really don’t need anymore! Looking forward to seeing more knitting in the future…

  14. June 9, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    That is such a beautiful blanket – and a beautifully written post too, as always. I started reading it during the boys’ swimming lesson this afternoon, and as I always do when you write about Freddie, I had tears welling up, so thought it best to finish when I got home….

    As for the colours…hmm…my guess is 42?

    Dawn
    x

  15. June 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    A beautiful post about a beautiful blanket. :) xx

  16. layla
    June 9, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    it’s beautiful Merry & a huge achievement xxx

  17. June 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    oh, how incredibly beautiful!
    I’m guessing at 77 shades
    xx

  18. HelenHaricot
    June 9, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    it looks fab. i really hope there are 52

  19. June 9, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Thank you for putting everything into words so wellxx I’m reading this at ‘work’ ( in a barn often used for weddings but set for meals at a three day fair that started today) its utterly beautiful but your blankets beat it hands down. I’ll have a guess at 53.

  20. June 9, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I’m guessing 37, but that’s just a wild guess ;-)
    Mostly I wanted to comment to tell you that your story touched me deeply. Thank you for sharing it. I admire your courage to move forward and to honor, not only the year and your survival, but also your son and those who love you both. Blessings to you!

    Longing to knit for my own children,
    ~Julia

  21. Sarah
    June 9, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    46?
    Love the blanket. Looks just right to snuggle into.
    ’20 new stitches’ – how many types are there?

  22. June 10, 2011 at 1:36 am

    well done hun :o)

    xc

  23. June 10, 2011 at 5:25 am

    That is definitely a big achievement. Congrats! I am going to guess you used 39 colors for this.

  24. June 10, 2011 at 10:21 am

    What a truly special blanket, it must have taken a lot of emotional strength xx I found you through Twitter. Was just reading through your blog and read your post about the farm in Dartmoor, I am planning on visiting Devon soon and will be going to that area of Dartmoor, I used to go there and to Exmoor as a child, loved the wild ponies! Will have to check out the website for the farm as I am still trying to get accomodation. Take Care, Hugs, Catherine x

  25. Ema
    June 10, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    39 & 42 have both already been taken so I’m going to go for 41! It’s beautiful Merry, such a journey for you all, hurrah for completing it. You are a wonderful, strong woman & an inspirational mother, Ema xx

  26. June 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    What a journey you’ve all travelled in a year. Thank you very much for sharing it. A lovely blanket. I don’t knit, but am making a guess that there are possibly 28 colours.

Comments are closed.