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How to Make a Blanket (or Progressive Parenting in 2016)

Being a parent with progressive values has been...challenging the last couple of weeks. At church last Sunday, as our minister helped us adjust to the reality of the world outside of our bubble, I looked around and saw several women (myself included) doing yarn work. Needles clicked and yarn sang as we all sat there, openly weeping and crocheting and knitting furiously. And I thought, this is what we do. In the face of shattered dreams and illusions, of inclusiveness and kindness exploding all around us while chants for new walls echoed in the distance, we sat there and made blankets.


Well, what is a blanket? A source of warmth, of comfort. A necessity in times of extreme cold, they're also a source of connection and love for little ones missing mommy or daddy. Blankets are the ultimate symbol of what we as humans need. Our survival depends on being warm enough to get through the night, and being loved enough to get through the day. And the import of the moment crashed in on me (along with a host of other emotions) as I continued crying and crocheting, letting the warmth and love of my community sink into me, helping me get through a day that seemed as bleak as the night.

Today in church, I brought my supplies again. I plopped myself down in the front, and started on my blanket again, metaphor in mind. But this time, there was a snag. I went to pull out my yarn, and it was tangled. The night before, while I was at work, the kids had gotten into my yarn bag and one of my skeins was horribly tangled and snarled. I paused.

I couldn't make my blanket. Not when the skein was so tangled, so twisted.

The next thing I knew, my hands and fingers began the complex-yet-familiar process of untangling the skein. I've made many blankets. I've seen this before. I know what to do. Take a breath. Let go of who tangled the skein, because it's too late to do anything about that. Right now, I need to deal with the fact my yarn is unusable. I need to begin to separate out what is usable and what's not. I need to find where the snarls begin, and work my way back.

Experience has taught me that if I get frustrated and pull or yank on the yarn, things get worse. The knots pull even tighter, and there have been times when I had to abandon an entire project because I'd muddled the skein up to the point it was beyond saving. Those were the times I had to get out the scissors, cut things off. Those were the times I gave up on my project and ended up throwing a lot of otherwise good yarn in the trash.

I can't do that now. We NEED this blanket.

So there I sat, a new meditation in my mind as I slowly, gently tugged and pulled, sometimes shaking things loose, sometimes coiling up the loose ends. There were times I got lost, made new snarls. Then I'd simply take several deep breaths, focus on the healing words of the minister and others in our community, and go back to it. More than once I dropped the ball...only to have the person behind me pick it up and place it down next to me, gently. Other times I had to put it down to stand, or sing, or talk, and when I sat again I'd lost the thread. Had to start over again. More deep breaths. More listening. More shaking, and tugging, and gently untwisting.

By the time service was over, I'd untangled the skein. Well, by the time the second service was over--truth be told I was there for both, and it took me the whole time. But no matter. I did it. And I was able to get two new rows on that blanket.

It will take me a long time to finish, as I want it to be big enough for all four of us to cuddle under. It's a lot of work to undertake, making this blanket. And I know that, when it's all done and I look at it on the bed or wrapped around the twins, I won't be able to see any of the twisted tangles or snarls. I'll just see our blanket, finished and warm and filled with love.

For now, I'll just do one stitch at a time.

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