Heirloom or Well-Loved?

  Baby Windsor hanging out on a blanket woven out of 3/2 perle cotton in a double weave. Photo credit: Sara Bixler.
Heirloom or Well-Loved?
ChristinaHeadshot Christina Garton
Editor, Weaving Today

Some of you may know Sara Bixler from her web seminar, her work in Handwoven, or from her classes at The Mannings. We’re happy to say Sara has filmed a series of new videos on weaving with a rigid-heddle loom and will be a new, frequent contributor here at Weaving Today, where she will share her inspiration, experiences, and knowledge. In this post, Sara writes about how becoming a mother made her rethink her approach to baby blankets—and if after reading this you feel the need to try your hand at a baby blanket, check out Sara’s new video on the subject! —Christina

There was a time when I was elated to find out that a friend was expecting a baby, not only out of the pure joy for their new addition, but because it was a chance for me to flex my creative muscles. I have to admit, I’m a little bit of a compliment junkie. There is nothing better than the ol’ “Oh my gosh, you made this! You’re so amazingly creative, thoughtful….” So upon learning that my dear cousin, friend, or hubby’s college roommate is expecting, of course I’m going to blow their socks off by creating a one-of-a-kind baby blanket that will become an heirloom passed down for generations to come. We’re talking 60 epi, a 12-shaft name draft, and, oh yeah, I have to dye the yarn a custom color. After all this labor and a stunning result, I have created a one-of-a-kind blanket that most likely the child in question will never be able to engage with for fear that they will damage this precious heirloom.

  A closeup of a simple weave, plain weave blanket. Photo credit: Sara Bixler.

After having my daughter, I quickly realized this way of thinking was a complete waste of my time and talents. Some of my most favorite gifts I received from fellow fiber friends were those that I had no fear of letting my little one engage with. These were the gifts that we were truly making memories with, not the delicate little numbers safely tucked away, never to see the light of day, until I pass them down to her when she’s expecting her first child.

Moral of the story: When said friend came to me and announced No. 2 was in the oven, I went to the drawing board with practicality in mind. When choosing materials for said blanket, I consider several factors:

  1. Sett. There is no sense using threads that are so fine that you won’t finish until the child is heading off to college. I love a good thread that setts 10-24 epi.
  2. Are my chosen materials practical for the parents and frequent washings without the fear of damage occurring? Think machine wash and perhaps tumble dry.
  3. Weave structure. Although lace is beautiful and delicate, consider little fingers and how fun it will be to fondle the floats. Keep things tidy and forgo the lace unless you can keep the floats shorter than the tips of a newborn’s finger.
  4. Finishing. There are all sorts of theories about finishing for a baby blanket, but I stick to practicality and common sense. Fringe, even if it’s been twisted, breaks down after repeated washing and can be a choking hazard. My standard finishes for baby blankets are rolled hems or satin binding….they just love it!

There is always room for growth, and I love my new outlook on gifting baby blankets. I now become completely overjoyed to hear that there has been a hole worn right through the treasured blanket from being well loved.


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