The past as told by blankets
Now that the older generation is passing on, I am taking a longer look at what they have left behind and, on this particular day, I see blankets.
While making the bed, I noticed the wool blanket that I have taken for granted for nearly 50 years. It resembles the L.L. Bean cottage blanket, yellow with some red stripes against a cream background.
Actually there were originally two, but someone sewed together these remnants using a fine French stitch where the raw edge is folded back on itself and then sewed again. The top of the blanket has a satin ribbon. I love getting out this blanket for winter because it is very warm yet manageable.
Then there are the two beige blankets, much lighter than the cottage blanket. Each one shows wear, but again someone took the time to repair the holes with a woven wool yarn trying to match the beige; she didn’t do a very good job at color coding, but did patch the holes. These blankets went on the twin beds in early spring as kind of a transition. When I had my B & B a guest remarked that her grandmother had blankets just like them.
Not all the heirlooms came down in favorable condition or even repaired. One is nearly paper thin; I fold it up and put it on the rocker on the front porch for the cats. Cats love wool and curl up as snow piles on top of them. Last January a sick cow lay under a tattered wool blanket all the while she fought for her life from some unknown affliction. It took a week for her to die despite all we did, but she was as comfortable as she could get in her last days.
And finally there is the unusual blanket, doesn’t fit any description. It is small, short and blue. Its distinguishing feature is that it has puckers! Stitches or a draw string has pulled the wool tight at 5-inch intervals resembling a sheet with air pockets; you can’t smooth it out. However, it is a light wool and makes a fine cover on the couch for a quick nap.
I do have some century old quilts too that I inherited, but they don’t have that flavor of utility; they are more for show — log cabin, the wedding rings, the crazy quilt, and the white on white. The latter is really a work of art done by my great-mother. Still I prefer the warm, wooly blankets that have covered so many lives for so long.
Sylvia Zimmerman is the owner of Fulton Creek Jersey Cheese in Richwood, Ohio. She holds two graduate degrees and, when not working on her farm or pursuing her interest in sustaniable agriculture, writes her own blog.