The other evening my husband pulled an old throw out of the closet and settled in for a nap. We haven’t used this afghan in years—it’s a bright variegated blue and white random knit, and although we have a lot of blue in our home, this blanket doesn’t really fit in. The acrylic yarn and coloring looks very 1960s, so a half-century later, it seems dated.
But I’ve kept it around since my childhood. After all, my grandmother made it for me.
My paternal grandmother, my Nanny Kay, had many talents. I’ve written before about her piano playing. My father said she played the violin very well also. She cooked well, and she crocheted. My mother knitted and my other grandmother did needlepoint, but Nanny Kay crocheted.
After my mother died, my father found a box containing a handmade lace tablecloth with a note in my mother’s handwriting on it. The note said Nanny Kay had made the tablecloth as a wedding gift for my parents. Neither my father nor I remembered ever seeing it. The workmanship on the lace was exquisite— tiny crocheted stitches made up each two-inch medallion, and the medallions were tacked together to make a covering large enough for a table for eight. (I thought I took a picture of it after my dad died, but I can’t find the photo.)
I don’t remember exactly when Nanny Kay made the blue and white afghan for me, but I think I was about eleven or twelve. I can picture it on my bed when I had a pink bedspread, which was between about 1967 and 1970. And I definitely recall using the afghan in the winters during junior high and high school, when I curled up on my bed to do homework or read. Our Siamese cat would sometimes curl up with me. One time she bit my algebra homework when she decided the paper would make a good toy. Another time she got sick on the afghan, which is why I can so clearly remember her in my room with me.
As I recall, Nanny Kay planned to make these afghans for all her grandchildren, or at least for her granddaughters. I don’t remember my brother having one (the other brother may not have been born yet), but I have a vague recollection of my sister having a pink crib-sized blanket in the same style. My afghan was a Christmas present from Nanny Kay, and I loved it when I got it. I don’t like wool against my skin, but the acrylic yarn was soft and cozy.
Somehow, the blue afghan made it three thousand miles across the nation to my dorm room at Middlebury College. I don’t see pictures of it in my early college years, but it is at the foot of my bed in the last room I had at Middlebury. Then it went three thousand miles back west to Stanford Law School with me also.
Later it moved to Kansas City and spent some time on my daughter’s bed during the winter months, but she never liked it. It was too old-school for her, I think. For the last decade or so, it has lived in the closet, until my husband pulled it out, reviving all the memories I recounted above. It now covers my child-sized rocking chair, awaiting another nap.
What hand-made items do you have from your past?