For a long time I resisted the urge to be crafty. I liked the art things I did, like throwing pottery and making mosaics, but I didn’t “do crafts.” I’m not sure what my issue was with being crafty, maybe I was too mired in graduate school to be allow myself the freedom to do fun creative things. They had to be serious art, not fun. Bleh! Whatever the reason, soon after moving to Iowa and after Little Man’s birth I was invited to join a Mom’s Club and I started to notice that a number of the moms in our group were not only crafty, but made some truly beautiful things. One was crafting a fantastic quiet book for her daughter with hand sewn pages of button flowers, and tie up shoes, etc. Another was getting into felting and made phenomenal dolls and toys. Most importantly, as beautiful as these pieces were, what made them the most special and unique was that the crafts were made for a specific person (or child) by someone who loved them. I started to rethink my bias against craftiness.
I already knew that I loved throwing pottery and making mosaics, but neither one was really useful for Little Man the infant. While I did throw some special bowls and plates for him, the fact that I made these specifically for him will be lost on Little Man for awhile yet. I wanted to make something for him that he could have and use now. I wanted it to be crafty, but functional at the same time. I decided that I wanted to make him a knotted fleece blanket.
Of course I had no idea about how to go about doing such a thing, other than the fact that I’d need some fleece and scissors, but a little Pintrest research solved that issue. I wrote down the things I would need, went to my local warehouse store, bought my supplies, and then proceeded to do nothing for weeks. I watched the calendar move forward towards Christmas and dust gather on my plastic bags of goodies, but couldn’t bring myself to actually do anything with them. One evening while I sat there and contemplated my bags of unfulfilled craftiness, I finally put words to my dragging feet. I didn’t want to do the craft alone, but with friends. Not because I needed any help, this craft is superbly simple, but I just wanted to share in the camaraderie of being crafty. So I invited the members of the Mom’s Club over to my house with the caveat that each woman bring a craft that she wanted to work on. I would provide snacks and a cocktail, and we’d see how much we got done.
In the end, I don’t think I accomplished much beyond laying out my fleece and getting it pinned together. Not a single cut was made or knot tied that evening, but I had a wonderful time. And after that, the knotted fleece blanket became something that I worked on in the evenings when Little Man was sleeping but we hadn’t yet gone to bed. It didn’t take long to finish once I’d actually started it, and for Christmas Little Man got a soft, snuggly, fleece blanket that is still on his bed today. Looking back, that first Crafty Night was one of the moments that made Iowa feel like home, though it was far from family and anything but familiar. In fact, it was the friends that I made through the Crafty Nights who I knew I would miss the most when we moved.
Then last Fall we needed a blanket to send with Little Man for his day care while I was teaching at the University of Victoria. This was a big step for us all, since before in Iowa his day care had been in a lovely woman’s home with his best buddy and just a couple other children. Here in Nanaimo day care would be much larger, and I really wanted to send him with something that felt like a big hug. So off to the local fabric store I went, Little Man in tow to pick out his fleece. Then the week before he was to start day care I pulled out the materials and went online to refresh my memory of how to put the whole thing together, only to find that the original post was gone. Luckily it didn’t take me long to remember the few tricks involved, and I quickly had it all laid out, cut and knotted well in advance of the blanket being needed.
The night before Little Man was to start day care we read the Kissing Hand story about a racoon who is getting ready to go to school for the first time. In the story the little racoon’s mom kisses his hand and tells him that the love of that kiss will stay with him all day long at school, and any time he needs to feel the warmth of that kiss he just has to lay his hand to his cheek. Then we pulled out his new knotted fleece blanket and talked about how Mommy and Daddy’s hugs stayed with the blanket and that whenever he got to use the blanket at day care our hugs and love were with him. Sappy, yes, but such is the life of parents of wee little ones. Embrace it and move on. 😉
If you would like to make your own knotted fleece blanket, here are the instructions:
Knotted Fleece Blanket Craft
This was my introduction into the world of being crafty. It’s a great place to start for someone who would like to make something for a loved one, but may not yet be ready to tackle something that involves machinery or needles. The soft fleece is machine washable and snuggly as a hug.
Supplies and Equipment:
2 pieces (1 – 1 ½ yards) of fleece. One patterned and one solid.
Yard (or meter) stick
Lots of large safety pins
- Machine wash and dry both pieces of fleece.
- Lay one piece of fleece face (or presentation side) down on a large, flat surface, such as a kitchen table. If the fabric has any sort of pattern or picture, the “pretty” side should be down and the dull side facing up.
- Lay the second piece of fleece face up on top of the first piece. Make sure that all edges line up. If one is larger than the other, trim the larger piece to fit the smaller. You may find that the person who cut your fleece at the store did not use a very steady hand with the scissors. This is your chance to clean up those edges, but don’t drive yourself crazy about it. Once cut and knotted most such inaccuracies will be invisible.
- Using the safety pins, pin the two pieces of fabric together about 4 ½-5 inches in from the border. This will keep the two pieces of fabric together as you move it around to cut and knot the fringe.
- Cut an approximate 4 inch square out of each of the four corners of your blanket. This is an important step so that your pieces fit together nicely.
- Lay your yard (or meter) measuring stick down along one straight side of the fleece about 4 ½ inches deep from the border. Use this as your guide as you cut the fringe incisions along the four sides of your fleece. Make 4 inch deep incisions through both layers of fleece at 1 inch intervals down the length of your fleece to create the fringe. Don’t panic if your incisions are not exactly at 1 inch intervals, just do your best. If you go too much thicker than that, then the knots can be a bit messy. If you do much thinner than that, and the knots look too small. Repeat this for all four sides of the blanket.
- Starting at one corner edge, loop both pieces of one section of fringe around your finger and tie a single knot as high up on the incision as possible. You should see the color of your bottom fabric at the base of the knot. Tie the knot tightly so that it does not unravel later. Some people pull the two layers of fleece apart and tie them in a knot that way, but I think the looping method of both pieces together looks nicer. Continue this until all fringe pieces are knotted.
- Remove all safety pins from the blanket, and let the snuggles begin!
Click here for a printable version of the Knotted Fleece Blanket craft.
Oh, that made me cry. Aiden is so fortunate to have you as his loving, thoughtful, talented Mommy (oh and his Daddy too)!
Thanks! 🙂 I’m loving all of this craftiness, and in fact am feeling at a bit of a loss since I’m between projects at the moment. I need to figure out what comes next…
I love the Kissing Hand story! When I was teaching, I read it to my kinders every year. It reminds me of a story my mom told about me about my youngest sister, LouAnn….she always kissed her goodbye at the corner near her school….LouAnn would walk off licking her lips to see is she could taste mom’s kiss…. Rachel made me my first fleece blanket and Nyah and I have made a few…I even made my great grands one when they were born…and it’s not sappy to send Littlle Man off with all that love!!
Thanks for the great comment! It’s so fun to be catching up with you all and your family traditions. 🙂 As for being sappy… As the mom of a little one I’ve embraced the sappiness, along with all of the slobbery kisses and messy hugs that leave smeared chocolate hand prints around my shoulders or legs. I think that one of the best parts of having a little one around is relearning what it is to have wonder. To feel free again to feel wonder and awe at the world around us, before we learn to be too cool for all of that. This is a blast!