He gave her yellow roses

Yellow Roses

“Significance of yellow roses.” I typed this into my search bar as I worked on this latest blanket.

Yellow Roses

Personally, I lean toward less traditional flowers — the handful of purple wildflowers from the hillside near my college in southern California, the tangle of bright cosmos from my first garden, the graceful tulips I came to love after living several years in Michigan. But I gained a new tenderheartedness toward roses after hearing about Richard and Anne.

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

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The meaning of yellow roses (from goldflorist.com):
• friendship
• a love that is familiar
• happiness with the domestic arrangement
• joy and happiness

 

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

When Richard and Anne met in college, he was on his way to becoming a dentist, she, a nurse. They married, settled down in Indiana and raised two daughters, now grown with families of their own. This last August, after over 50 years of marriage, Anne died. The daughters, grieving the loss of their mom and seeing their dad’s profound lonesomeness for her, wanted to have a blanket made for Richard from several of Anne’s sweaters. Lori, the oldest daughter, talked with me about her parents.

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

“Mom had a heart of gold,” said Lori. “Above all else, she loved being a friend. She liked to write cards to encourage people. She loved to get together with friends for lunch. She loved the Lord and she loved us. She was so sweet! We really miss her.

Yellow Roses

“Dad always worked very hard. He also enjoyed being an outdoorsman and hunting when he was younger. But after we were grown up, my parents had more time to travel. Myrtle Beach was a favorite place, and Dad loved to golf there. My parents completely enjoyed being together.”

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

“Oh!” said Lori, near the very end of the phone call. “Dad always gave Mom yellow roses! Would you put a yellow rose on the blanket?”

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

I look back at the meaning of a yellow rose: friendship, a familiar love, happiness in a domestic arrangement. Those warm, sunny roses are perfect for this pair, on so many levels. I also read that yellow roses can signify spring and new life, causing this blanket, made in April, to be extra timely.

Last week, when the finished blanket was hanging over the railing of my loft/sewing space, the roses caught my husband’s attention. I told him about the significance of the flowers. My guy, tough yet tender, got tears in his eyes as he imagined the difficulty of losing a companion and friend of over 50 years. “You’re gonna make him cry,” he said.

Yellow Roses

For Richard and family, I pray this blanket can be a comfort to you all and bring a sense of nearness to your wife and mom. I was touched by the love in your family and am so glad to have had the chance to make this for you.

(For readers, here are some fun blanket details: The colorful sweaters belonged to Anne–the green, the blue, the mottled blue and the multicolored one. The buttons are from the green sweater, and I included two pockets of the mottled blue. In the end, Lori chose three yellow roses for the three grandsons whom “Mom thought the world of and who felt the same about her.” Finally, the bumpy tan under the roses with its braid pattern was difficult to sew over but I love the contrast it offers. As my husband pointed out, “It looks like brambles behind the roses” — those rough patches in marriage and in life that make the sweet part even sweeter.)

Yellow Roses

“Yellow Roses”  (58″x75″)

This blanket has already gone to a good home.

 

The Irish Trio

Irish Trio

In time for St. Patrick’s day: The Irish Trio.

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These three blankets belong to The Green Sheep Legacy Collection, as they commemorate the life of a loved one who has passed away. They are made in warmhearted memory of Mariclare  — with her great love of Ireland in mind — and will go to her two daughters and granddaughter, as a gift from her son John and his wife Maureen.

Irish Blue

Mariclare was actually a step-mom to the four children she raised, but I only bring up that small detail in order to tell you her story. Mariclare gamely married Jack, a widower with four children — two boys, two girls — between the ages of 7 and nearly 1. Jack had tragically lost his first wife to brain cancer on the very day she gave birth to their youngest, a baby girl. This was the needy young family that welcomed Mariclare. To these four children, all grown up now, she has simply been Mom. Her daughter-in-law calls Mariclare a saint. She may not have been as well-known as Saint Patrick, but she may have been just as crucial to one small family in God’s great kingdom!

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Mariclare’s family contributed a lovely cream-colored Irish afghan of hers for the blankets. That beautiful afghan shrunk to a very small size, causing me to cut its knitted cable and basket-weave stitches into long strips rather than the rectangles I usually employ for blankets. I added in a Celtic-design sweater I’ve been saving, with chains of Celtic knots, to tie the trio together as well.

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Here is “Irish Blue.” The cream pieces from Mariclare’s afghan are a geometric echo of the Irish knotwork against a rich deep blue background. Blue was St. Patrick’s color! —

Irish Blue

Irish Blue

Irish Trio

Irish Blue

Irish Blue

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Here is “Irish Cream.” In this, the afghan pieces– they are the ones that are contiguous from one edge of the blanket to the other — are part and parcel of the cream body of the blanket. —

Irish Trio

Irish Trio

Irish Trio

Irish Trio

Irish Trio

Irish Trio

And finally, this is “Irish Grey.” The creamy afghan stripes and the shamrock complement the subtle greys really beautifully. Very restful. —

Irish Grey

Irish Grey

Irish Grey

Irish Grey

Irish Grey

Irish Grey

For daughters Ann and Kathi and granddaughter Maggie, may these blankets be loving reminders of  your precious mom and grandmother. Your family is grateful to you for all the care you gave her.

The Irish Trio (each approx. 52″ x 68″):

“Irish Blue”

“Irish Cream”

“Irish Grey” 

The blankets have already gone to good homes

“Heart[h] and Home”

Early last year, in the middle of a terribly hard time in her life, Susan lost her mom to cancer. I honestly have no words to put to such a difficult thing. I love this friend and ache for her loss.

Time and the hand of God have been at work in the healing process, and last fall Susan called me after finding some wool sweaters of her mom’s. We met over sandwiches, Susan passed me the sweaters, and asked if I’d make two blankets — one for Susan and one for her sister Cathy.

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To help me with the design plan, the sisters shared particular memories of their mom, Chris: She liked to read. She made popcorn in a pot on the stove. When they lived in Westport, Connecticut, she packed picnic dinners for the beach. She planned many camping trips to Maine’s Acadia National Park. She loved her grandkids and got “grandma” time with all of them while her daughters worked. And she loved blue and green.

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Susan’s family moved several times in her growing-up years, and what Cathy and Susan remember above all is Chris’ devotion to her family and to making a home for them, wherever the family found itself. Susan noted, “She wasn’t exactly crafty, she didn’t really have hobbies, and — even though she loved having Thanksgiving — she wasn’t even a great cook. But she was always there for us. That’s what I think of when I think of my mom. She was there when we got home from school, every day. That was really important to her.”

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Chris kept her own wardrobe neutral, and such were the sweaters she left behind. Susan provided me with three sweaters in different shades of gray (one with sweet pale blue snowflakes) and a fourth one, cream, from Marshall Field’s that Susan recalls her mom wearing more than any other.

I decided to anchor those three grays at the heart of each blanket and surround them with Chris’ favorite colors. I would have the cream encircle and embrace the whole, like a mother taking a child in her arms. Finally, I would add a heart: such a simple symbol but unrivaled in representing the depth of love of a mom for her family. I laid out the two sister blankets as mirror images of each other.

And they were all ready in time for Christmas. For Susan and Cathy, with love ♥

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“Heart[h] and Home” 

Two blankets, 59″ x 76″ each

These blankets already have homes.

“The Twain Shall Meet”

Marriage.  It doesn’t just bring two PEOPLE together. It brings two families together. Two histories. Two sets of memories. Two world views.

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It brings together two ways of being, which in their new consolidated form sit on a continuum somewhere between Extremely Similar and  Extremely Dissimilar. (Amen??)

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Today I introduce you to Lori and Steve, a Norwegian girl and an Irish boy who have 11 years of marriage and a son and a life together.

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Where do these two weigh in on the Similarity Scale? They love to be outdoors and to exercise. They share their faith in Christ and have similar values. They enjoy being busy. They are gracious, hospitable and gentle. And how are they dissimilar? From Lori: she is always cold and he is always hot. Steve likes spicy food and Lori, not so much. He likes gadgets, she could care less. She keeps things clean, he likes his piles.

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After considering having a blanket and a story of their own, Lori presented me with some sweaters — sweaters that hold memories for them but that they simply never wear. (This is the perfect project for The Green Sheep. I love solving this “problem”!)

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In the days when Lori and Steve were dating, Steve had an opportunity to travel to Ireland with his parents. In retrospect it turned out to be a specially momentous trip because Steve’s father passed away later that same year.

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While in Ireland, Steve and his dad golfed on a beautiful course at Ballybunion. (You must click on that link if you are craving green and nature right about now!) Steve brought home a wool golf vest. The logo from that important day became a cornerstone of the blanket.

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He also brought home a thick, heavy, beautiful brown Irish wool sweater. But I mentioned he gets hot? So Steve’s brown sweater, too warm to wear but perfect for a blanket, builds the crossroads where these two have met. The leaf shapes scattered throughout are directly from the Irish crest for this couple’s family name.

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Lori also had a sweater from her pre-marriage days that she had been saving.  Hers was from Minnesota — but the black-with-red-and-white trim unfortunately kept throwing off the balance in the blanket.  So, as per Lori’s initial request, I stuck to coordinating with the couple’s bedroom colors instead, with the cream and the grey. If I couldn’t use her sweater, though, what could reflect Lori in the blanket?

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For her, there is the iconic Scandinavian metal button,

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a little extra bling, and, most importantly…

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…some proud Viking representation :). These horns make the blanket’s second cornerstone.

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It was a pleasure to create this for you two, Steve and Lori. I hope you enjoy it for many years to come. And, quite appropriately, Happy Valentine’s Day to you and to all!

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“The Twain Shall Meet” (74L x 60W)

This blanket was a custom order.

“Fullness of Peonies”

It’s been my delight in recent weeks to create another “legacy blanket” from, as it happens, another beautiful Irish sweater.

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The pieces with the diamonds (above) and the chevron (below) — that’s the Irish one.

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Each time I work on one of these blankets (like hereherehere, and here) I am moved by the complexity, wonder, and organic force of legacy within a family.  I hear about these things when an individual brings a sweater and says, “My dad passed away, but I’d love to have his wool sweater put into a blanket for my mom. Will you do that?”

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Mary, one of six kids in her big, lively family, found my work online while exploring what to do with her late dad’s sweater. She emailed, asking if I could make a blanket for her mom, Barbara. I replied (“Of course!”) and asked, as I always do, if I could briefly interview her by phone about her parents.

This is one of my favorite parts of the process. It’s where ideas begin to germinate.

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Mary not only talked with me, she sent a couple photos of her parents’ den, a long-time favorite hang-out of the entire family. WOW. A picture and its thousand words cannot be beat. I particularly fell in love with a sepia-toned vintage map of Europe above the red couch, hung next to a classic print of a horse and rider.

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The blanket took its shape around what I learned of Mary’s family, her mom, her dad, and that welcoming den.

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Mary’s dad, a college professor, became a US Congressman in the ’60s and moved his family near Washington D.C. He and his wife not only raised their family and served their state and country together, they co-authored books! There’s a lot to admire there.

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Barbara is a capital-G Gardener, with related offshoot activities: she has led garden tours as a docent and helped launch (I believe — my notes grew sketchy here) a neighborhood garden club. I got the feeling she loves to be around both gardens and people.

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Confirming my suspicions, her daughter reported that Barbara adores having a house full of people :)

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And so it came together: the neutrals to match the masculine sensibilities in the den, the flowers to match the warm red furniture, the fullness of peonies to match this mom and her family full of generations, interests, activities, loves,…legacy. To Barbara, Mary, and the family: I hope this blanket represents your family well :)

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“Fullness of Peonies” (55″ x 70″)

This is a custom-order blanket.

“Butterflies for Momma”

As promised, here is the companion to the blanket I posted yesterday. (Read more about “Peace” here.) These blankets are Christmas gifts for a pair of sisters from a third sister, Maureen. Don’t tell! These were ordered and designed in remembrance of their mom.

So finally, here is “Butterflies for Momma” :

The assignment: two different blankets for two different sisters but each meaningful in its own right. I was put to the test again! But as always happens, the sweaters and the colors and the wool itself all guided me with their ever-surprising capability to inspire.

For this blanket, Maureen had told me that butterflies remind this particular sister of her mother’s presence. And then Maureen said, “You can make it colorful!” Was this the kind of colorful she had in mind? I’m not sure! But I do believe it’s full of color and light and tranquility too. Here the border hints of a trellis or an arbor, a pleasant place from which to watch these delightful flitting creatures.

My hope and prayer is that both of these blankets can bring wonderful thoughts of a wonderful woman to mind for two very special sisters.

“Butterflies for Momma” (60″ x 76″)

(This blanket is not available for sale.)

“Peace”

I have a sneak peek for you. These two blankets are actually Christmas gifts, not yet in the hands of the recipients. But Maureen, who ordered them for her sisters, feels certain those sisters will never discover them here. On my blog. In this teensy corner of the big blogging world. That’s good; I’d hate to spoil the secret ;)

Both blankets were thoughtfully custom-ordered and designed in honor of the women’s mother, who passed away several years ago. I’ll post one today and the next tomorrow. Let me introduce you to “Peace”:

“Peace” started when Maureen handed me two of her mom’s sweaters: the orange wool and the bold Nordic-looking striped wool. I admit that initially I wasn’t sure what to do with these two dissimilar sweaters. Hmmm…

The tans helped to pull them together. But it was when I added in the blue that I suddenly felt as if I had been transported to a porch at a lake-side cabin — a silent spectator to the wonder of creatures going about their beautiful, mysterious lives. The blanket came together easily after that.

The inset border feels to me like the frame of the porch or possibly of a picture window. This blanket’s mate also has that same “frame” — and its theme, although carried out with a very different sensibility, also depicts some marvels of nature.  It’ll be here tomorrow, so please come back for another visit!

“Peace” (60″ x 76″)

(This blanket is not available for sale.)

“Butterflies”

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Did you take General Psych in school? Do you remember Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development? As a sociology major and then an occupational therapist, I distinctly recall studying this several times. Now that I’m, um, older, I think I’ve found a weak spot in his thinking….

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[Source: Gathan Beaga]

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Erickson observed and described FIVE stages of development

to get kids from birth to the teen years

but tossed together a measly, vaguely-depicted THREE more

to take us from the age of 18 until death.

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AH-HA-HA-HA-hahaha!

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[Source: Gathan Beaga]

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[Bear with me while I take a little license with Erikson’s model here — I know he had certain things in mind. But still, I believe my points are valid….]

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[Source: Gathan Beaga]

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Did Erikson take note of THESE milestones? — Figuring out how to live with the alien you promised your life to in marriage? Shakily acknowledging responsibility for your newborn when YOU DON”T KNOW WHAT THE HECK YOU ARE DOING? Learning from your mistakes? (Emblazoned on my memory is the time I went through the house slamming windows closed so the neighbors wouldn’t hear me scream at my 10-year-old.)

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[Source: Gathan Beaga]

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Or how about these — Discovering that raising kids to be independent is the right thing to do but hurts like the dickens? Realizing that you caused your own parents a boatload of pain and worry but they never let on? Seeing aging in a whole new light once age 50 or 60 hits? Wondering who will “go first,” you or your spouse?

And these are only the highlights. I personally think Mr. Erikson skimmed over way too much stuff.

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Erikson’s problematic schema aside, I am so thankful that we do change and learn and grow. Can you imagine how dull life might be otherwise?

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“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” 

~Author Unknown

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Diane brought me a handful of wool sweaters from her dad’s closet not long after he passed away. Her parents had been married for 55 years and all too quickly he was suddenly gone. Talk about a new developmental stage! Diane said, “I’d love for you to make a blanket for my mom out of these sweaters of Dad’s.”

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A couple days later, Diane added: “And would you put butterflies on it?” Butterflies — to depict the unfolding days ahead for her mom, now no longer with her mate by her side, but with instead a whole realm of new possibilities.

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I used three of Diane’s dad’s sweaters:

In the photo above, 1) the brown patch that the pansies are on, and below, 2) the cream-colored stripe and 3) the “checkerboard” under the blue butterfly.

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His sweaters make a beautiful background for the new butterflies, just breaking forth now and finding their way.

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And back to Erikson — he lived until nearly age 92. Do you imagine that just MAYBE he had a couple more chapters brewing in his mind by then?

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Butterflies (Size: 57″ x 70″)

[This is a custom-ordered blanket.]


“Love in Your Heart”

I met Molly a few weeks ago through Kathy, owner of some Green Sheep blankets (see here). While we were talking, it came up that Molly’s mom’s 80th birthday is around the corner.  What a milestone!  Molly put on her thinking cap and recalled a sweater of her late dad’s, and….ahhh!….another blanket started brewing.

Molly’s mom is Irish through and through. She has devoted her life to her family and still loves taking care of them.  She also loves to read, and has a comfy brown chair in which to do exactly that. Molly wondered if I could make a throw to keep her warm in that comfy brown chair.

I hope I have. As usual, it was a delight to see what sweaters and colors would come together with the “seed” of the first one.  (In the photo below, the ribbed piece over the arm of the rocker is from Molly’s dad’s sweater.)

As Molly talked about her, it wasn’t hard to see how much her family loves her. So, for Molly’s mom on a very special birthday, here is “Love in Your Heart.” The name comes from this simple and lovely Irish blessing:

“May you be blessed with warmth in your home,

love in your heart, peace in your soul,

and joy in your life.”

It sounds as if those blessings have already been bestowed :) .

“Love in Your Heart” (Size: 50″ x 60″)

This throw was a custom order.

“Papa’s Pockets”

A sweet friend from work, a fellow therapist (she’s speech, I’m occupational), along with her husband recently finished their basement and turned it into a really welcoming living area.  She came to me and said, “Now that the basement’s done, I’m ready for a blanket for it!”  And then she handed me a beautiful wool sweater that had been her dad’s. Wow. My first chance to make a keepsake blanket with an honest-to-goodness keepsake!

This wasn’t just any sweater, but a gorgeous Irish-made one (Irish like the whole family) of thick, cream-colored wool.  That’s it in the foreground, the creamy cabled piece with the pocket near the edge.  It felted beautifully.  My friend’s dad is gone now, but I know having something of his means a lot.  And when the kids and grandkids are over, hanging out downstairs, they can cuddle up with a keepsake from grandpa as well.

Thanks, Maureen, for trusting me with your dad’s sweater :)

“Papa’s Pockets” (Size: 65″ x 83″)

This blanket has already gone to a good home.