When we knit for other people, forming each stitch by hand, I think we all hope the finished piece will be special to the recipient. When my Grandma Pat knit a baby blanket to welcome me—her first grandchild—into the world over 36 years ago, I wonder if she imagined that rectangle of fabric would become one of the most meaningful objects in my life.
As a knitted specimen, “Bluey” could be considered imperfect. The bind-off is a little tight. The stitch pattern ends partway through a repeat. It’s fairly pilly, and it’s been mended in at least a dozen spots. The pattern is a diamond brocade you might find in a stitch dictionary, but it seems likely my grandma used a pattern booklet from the 60s as a starting point and then decided to alter the edging a few rows in, leaving a funny little vestige of a border in one corner.
As a blanket, it has always been perfect. The gauge is slightly loose, allowing the fabric to flutter and swing the way a superhero’s cape should. It is just dense enough that if you put it over your head, you can see out, but no one can see in. It is exactly the right size for wrapping up a newborn baby sister, for a toddler to carry everywhere, and for a teenager to wrap around her shoulders while studying. It has always been there for me.
In general, the fabric lies flat, but because my grandma opted for stockinette borders, the last few stitches on each side curl in. This curl, to me, is a defining feature of Bluey. It has the effect of giving my blanket not just a back and a front, but an inside and an outside. Knitters who see curling stockinette as something to battle should know how comforting it can be to have a blanket that actively wraps around you and to fall asleep curling and uncurling those edge stitches.
These days, Bluey sits on a shelf in my closet and I teach students at Knit Purl about the structure of knitting. When I trace the path that brought me here, it starts with the magic of turning my blanket over and over to see knit V’s on one side transform into purl bumps on the other. In sitting down with Bluey to record the arrangement of stitches, I seem to have come full circle. I’ve made the tiniest of design refinements and updated the blanket with eco-friendly, softly variegated merino, but our newly created version feels just right. I consider myself so fortunate to be in a position to pass along my grandmother’s wisdom by sharing the pattern with all of you. I hope you might knit a new perfect blanket, perhaps in a new color, with a new name, for someone to cherish as a source of comfort and delight and as a connection to you. If it ends up with any imperfections, remember that some day they’re likely to start looking like stories – about your life and the recipient’s – written into the fabric.
I also feel extremely lucky to have gotten many years with my grandmother, especially when I consider that she made Bluey while recovering from breast cancer. In tribute, Knit Purl will be donating 75% of proceeds from Bluey pattern sales to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. May you all get extra time with the ones you love.