Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Grandma's Blankets

Brandon's 1st Birthday Quilt
Everyone who knows me knows that I am a “pen and paper” kind of person. When my bank teller offers me more pens, I gladly accept them knowing they will be used. Writing things down is a more dependable way of saving information. As my Grandsons were born, I wondered how I was going to share of myself with them. I considered all the wonderful links and photos and comments, often about them, and how I would preserve them in some sort of a scrapbook. Video tapes were the rage when my daughter was born, however; the equipment with which to view them is obsolete. I wanted to create an electronic scrapbook to preserve the memory of their youth and those who participated in their lives. Social networks such as Facebook are an ever changing 3D collection of visuals and personal commentary that cannot be saved. I wanted to give them something tangible, to hold and feel and experience with all the senses, for years to come. Websites come and go and hyperlinks are as fleeting as the disposable computers and discs used to store such information. Who knows what future forms of communication will be like. 
Christopher's 1st Birthday Quilt
I thought about how to be with our Grandsons when we were apart. They live so far away so we exchange phone conversations and photos and even videos at the click of a button, but that is no replacement for feeling, hugging and holding. I decided to make small simple quilts that were durable and meant to be used, while hopefully lasting into adulthood.
My Grandma Feeley's Blanket
My Grandmother was crippled with arthritis and crocheted all day, every day as both physical therapy and distraction from her painful disability. She crafted the most beautiful but functional blankets, pillows, scarves with matching hats and mittens, slippers that we looked forward to every Christmas, and even handbags from bread bags! My Sister and I had a one-of-a-kind collection of fabric art we wore with pleasure. One Christmas I received a matching blanket and pillow that was my absolute favorite. I treated it with great care, hoping to pass it along to my own Daughter some day. When that opportunity became a reality, I couldn't part with it. My Grandmother passed away when I was still in Jr. High and what seemed to be an endless supply of crocheted goods came to an abrupt end. It was then I learned to never take anything for granted. 
I am not a gifted needle worker and never figured out how to crochet, after many patient attempts by my Gran to teach me. I have her hooks and looms anyway, in the event I should be magically inspired. Instead, I found Teddy bears and designed matching quilt-style blankets to present our grandchildren on their first birthdays. This week is the birthday of our first Grandson, who will be 6, and I was reminded of my “tradition”. Our third Grandson is turning 1 in March so it's time I start sewing my final blanket of green and navy blue to match his “Brooksie Bear” we found a year ago.
"Brooksie" Bear
Jessica Feely Photography
I was searching for my Uncle Marshall on line last night, to no avail. Coincidentally, the search produced a match to a product called “Behind the Blanket”, blankets made with love by Grandma Feely for her first Grandchild, Marshall. Grandma Feeley was the name of my Grandmother, too, my Uncle Marshall's Mother. Behind the Blanket makes quilt-like blankets, with a therapeutic twist to stimulate the senses. Inspired by her Grandson, Marshall, who was born with down syndrome, “Behind the Blanket” was also born. He called it his “Touchy-Feely” blanket as it was made with materials having different textures and colors and patterns to stimulate sensations in a warm and loving way by his Grandma Feely. I still feel my Grandma Feeley's love and warmth in the cherished blanket she made me. I hope our Grandsons will sense our love shared through their blankets for years to come.  Happy 6th Birthday Brandon!