One of the nicest things of being in the 5th decade of this journey called ” Life” would be the profusion of babies in the lives of my near and dear ones. Friends and cousins proudly share grand tidings, nieces and kids-who-have-grown-up-in-front-of-my-eyes share that impossibly scary and wonderful miracle of becoming parents,my favorite blog writer goes ga-ga over her nephews in a faraway continent, and every knitting admirer asks me, with hope/nonchalance, ” can you knit me a beautiful baby blanket?..I am becoming a grandparent!!”.
One of the good things of living in a tropical country would be the minimal requirement of warm clothes, sweaters, shawls and quilts. Large swathes of this country have homes without a quilt!! We wear cotton and silk and man-made fibres, but warm bulky sweaters and coats are stored more, worn much less. Babies do fine with cute cotton, or soft flannel and anything warmer than that is kicked off with scornful energy. Lace, with its exquisite filigree and softness looks good on babies and makes babies look good too!
One of the happy outcomes of a developing tropical country would be the cool baby nursery, where an air-conditioner hums a lullaby and sets up a screen of comfortable white noise. Little cherubs can dream through infancy in a pleasantly cool, sufficiently quiet place. And that, my dear reader , is where baby blankets come in! Babies need to feel cosy, babies need to have a little warmth in their cocoon and babies do well with a little swaddling, before being passed from one set of adoring arms to another.
One of the most challenging processes would be knitting an idea out of my head into reality. Baby blankets top that category. When I think or design a blanket, I need to have a good idea of where the blanket is going. Is it going to a home steeped in tradition, or is it a Mom-Dad-baby place? Are Mom/Dad into Dr Spock or parenting classes? Is the blanket a gift from a proud granny? Working parents? Settled out of India? no help or too much of loving fuss? Does the dog or Dettol take priority?
Baby blankets need to have a few critically essential bits about them….
- Since babies drool, spit and generally spill on every aspect of clothing, blankets need to be of washable yarn. If using pure wool ( some babies are reputed to be allergic to pure wool), the mother needs a little note about washing instructions. If that is not polite, prepare to visit the baby often and wash the blanket yourself!
- Lace patterns need to be closely knit..eyelets and spaces can be expanded to cavernous holes by little toes and excited fists.
- Initially, the blanket works for adult eyes and infant slumber. As months ( and years) pass, blankets can graduate to becoming comfort objects, TV companions and even go to school dormitories and hostels.
A decent sized baby blanket can become a beloved object..
An intricate blanket can be stored for heirloom purposes..
An unusual blanket can become a wall hanging.
The possibilities are endless…as diverse and as interesting as the possibilities for the baby which was covered with that blanket…as quirky or quaint or unusual as the new blankets which keep emerging from the knitting needles of our group!