“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.

“Terra-Cotta Red”

[Please visit my Etsy shop, The Green Sheep Studio, for purchasing information.]

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In the back of my mind, I always have an idea for “the next” Arts & Crafts style-inspired blanket I want to do. Two that have come to fruition are That 70s Throw and Ginkgo Leaves. And the same influence is visible in Life is a Gift (the poppies blanket)The Spruce Tree, and even in the flowers on Night Garden.

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This blanket is a little different. Terra-Cotta Red was prompted by a photo I have of an old terra-cotta wall with a fountain set into it.  It’s from a book about Craftsman-style homes.

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The  connection here to Arts & Crafts style is less about motif and more about the materials — particularly the earthenware tiles.

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The photo — and now this blanket — mentally transports me between Italy and California and back again. The reds make me feel the absorbed heat of the tiles and the dry Mediterranean air. The greens hint at the shade of towering trees to tame the heat. The sound of trickling water sweetens the setting. I imagine a worn wooden bench nearby where I can relax with a friend over coffees and conversation.

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It’s a bit of an anachronism to have this hanging on a picket fence in the Midwest’s thin spring sunlight. But hey. We do the best we can.

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“Terra-Cotta Red” (60″ x 75″)

“Night Garden”

I have a new blanket ready for a fall show in November! These sweaters sat stacked together for months, awaiting some time on my calendar to put them together. This is “Night Garden.” 

While I was sewing it, when our temps were a bit warmer, it evoked for me the feeling I have when my hubby and I sit out on our little street-facing balcony on a quiet evening, enjoy a glass of wine together and watch our neighbors walk with their spouses, their dogs, their babies.

Now that the weather is cooler, though, I just see “fall” all over this blanket. Funny how my feelings change through the seasons. We use our wool blankets all year long.

I was lucky enough to have my daughter and two of her wonderful college roommates agree to model, and even luckier that the rain stopped long enough for some photos. That their T-shirts serendipitously complemented the colors in the blanket — that was a bonus :)

“Night Garden” (70″ by 85″)

“Valentine’s Baby”

It’s nearly February!  I know, I know; you can point out that it’s cold and bleak and snowy, and those would all be true.  But I can point out that it makes a wonderful birthday month!  Maybe I’m just looking for the silver lining, but I think having a birthday to look forward to in February helps winter pass a bit more quickly.

Circle of Love, 36″ by 38″

So, yes, my birthday is this month, and so is my youngest daughter’s.  Not only that, but we are both Valentine babies: she arrived in this world on February 14th, and my parents brought me home from the hospital on the same date (of course many years earlier, and without a carseat!).

Circle of Love (handmade binding of red cashmere)

In Baby’s Garden, 36″ x 38″

Do you have a February baby of your own?  In honor of February babies everywhere, I’ve finished two new baby blankets from lovely recycled wool sweaters.  They are soft and warm, with lots of natural textures for baby to touch and hold.

In Baby’s Garden (handmade binding of soft pink merino)

I hope you find lots of things to enjoy about February.  And– Happy Valentine’s Day!

(These blankets have both gone to good homes.)

“Indian Summer”

To my mind, some of the best days of fall are when balmy breezes drift back for a week (or more, if we’re lucky) and tease with their warmth.  While the earth’s colors change from the hot summer colors to the cool autumn ones, we also shift our gears down a notch — and enjoy the last lazy outdoor days.  This blanket, made up of several sweaters of cashmere and lambswool, comfortably embodies that lazy warmth.

“Indian Summer” (Size: 60″ x 76″)

This blanket has already gone to a good home.

“Roasting Chestnuts”

Red and green can go together any time of year in my book, but I did make this blanket with Christmas in mind. Here, the black sets them both off while a spruce green cashmere binds the blanket. Just makes me want to curl up and watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“Roasting Chestnuts” (Size: 60″ x 75″)

This blanket has already gone to a good home.