FEBRUARY 2006 – NO. 3
Every night, I sleep with the same blanket over me.
In our house, there isn't much left of hers out in the open. Most of her things were either put in a closet or the attic or given to relatives. But, the figurine of a mother mouse baking cookies with a little girl mouse is still on the back of the stove. I gave her that for Mothers' Day one year. Her musical carousel horse that plays the song "Memory" is still on a shelf in the living room. And the coffee table still has a crack in it from that time she and my father had a bad argument.
Every night, I sleep with the same blanket over me: a pastel afghan that covers my twin-sized bed. The blanket is striped with eight colors. Yellow appears only once, toward the bottom. There are three different pinks: a dark mauve, an almost-white Carnation pink, and a bright, bubblegum pink. There is no specific pattern: the stripes are different widths; the colors repeat, but not in sequence; there is a ruffled border, but it's hard to say if it was planned or if she just had extra yarn and kept adding.
The blanket's colors don't fit my taste at all anymore. It's obviously a little girl's blanket, but I can't imagine ever packing it away. Even in the summer, when the weather is too hot for afghans, I keep it folded at the foot of my bed.
I ask my friend Susie about the process of making an afghan. I don't crochet. My mom always told me she'd teach me someday, but she never did. I didn't really ever want to learn. I knew I'd be too impatient to make an entire blanket. I knew we would argue while she taught me. And it would've been hard to learn from her anyway. She was left-handed and I'm right-handed.
Susie and I spread the blanket out on my bedroom floor. She leans in toward it, examining each row.
"She does a weird thing here with it," Susie begins. "Varied lengths, varied numbers of stitches." She explains to me the difference between a triple, double, and single stitch. She points to where my mom alternated between a double and single and tries to figure out why she might have switched from stitch to stitch. I'm lost already. Susie probably sees this and holds the blanket up to the light. "She adds depth, see?" she asks me. I see the light shine through certain rows, but not others. Susie tells me about the texture, the thickness. She says the blanket is "warmly woven."
After a few minutes, Susie has figured out which side my mother started with. The denser of the two. "She does it really seamlessly," Susie tells me. "She must've covered up her knots with the border." Susie shakes her head. "So much time."
I ask her how much time she thinks it would've taken. I can't remember how long my mother worked on it. I was only four or so when she made it. I'm pretty sure she worked on it for a while, and then put it away for a long time before she finished it.
Susie can't tell me exactly how long it would've taken.
"It's so solid though. You rarely see an afghan so solid."
I think about how sometimes I put the afghan over me, not because I'm cold, but because I want to feel its weight.
Susie points out that even though the blanket is heavy, my mother used thin yarn. Her stitches are smaller, more precise, so there are more of them. Then, she marvels at the size. "Usually, afghans are throws, to cover your lap, not bedcovers." I ask why. "No one wants to work that long," she says.
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