It's been a long time since I've done much heirloom sewing. But a few weeks ago when I received an email from a church friend I knew it was just what I was intended to do. I've been participating, sporadically, in the prayer shawl ministry at my church over the last year. When a request went out for someone to make prayer blankets for twin baby girls with cystic fibrosis (CF) I knew pretty quickly that I was the one who was supposed to take on this project. For ten years I worked in a hospital lab doing breathing tests on patients, and took a particular interest in the ones with CF. During that time I met a college student, Chris, who was beating the odds and doing very well managing his disease. We remained friends over the years and the miles. I have a friend from my college years who lost his teenage daughter to this disease, and just this spring my family traveled to Richmond to attend a fund raising dinner in Lucy's memory. CF has touched my life many times over the years. Those of you who know me well will have also made the connection to twin baby girls. I lost a set of twin girls at 30 weeks gestation almost 7 years ago. You can see now why I was sure that I was the one to make these blankets. At first, I hesitated, thinking about how slowly I knit. Then I had the flash thought that these blankets did not have to be knit, I could sew them. And I knew immediately what form they would take.
Years before my kids came onto the scene, I used to travel with my sister to various sewing events. We attended lots of American Sewing Guild conferences together but our greatest times were spent in Huntsville, Alabama attending Martha Pullen's School of Art Fashion. There I learned to sew delicate, lacy things in the heirloom tradition. One of my favorite teachers at these schools was Carol Ahles. Carol is a wonderful teacher who shares her knowledge and encourages students to do their very best. One year my sister and I took a class from her on making a lace-edged, hemstitched baby blanket. She provided luxurious cashmere flannel and Cluny lace for the project. The edges were corded and hemstitched, which gave a lovely and sturdy finish.
Here's the blanket I made in that class
and a close up of the lace edge.
I wrote to Carol and ordered several yards of light pink flannel for my project. I decided that monograms on the blankets would serve to distinguish them from each other, and I used Hope Yoder's Fancy ABC's for the letters. The Cluny lace came from my stash.
The blankets measure 36" x 45" and have rounded corners.
The edges are hemstitched using the Parisian hemstitch and a 100 wing needle. The cording is size 5 perle cotton. Here is a close up of the hemstitched edge:
Carol's instructions for these blankets originally appeared in the November/December 2001 issue of Creative Needle magazine. You can purchase the instructions, along with all of the necessary supplies, from Carol's website.
While I was working on these blankets last week my friend Chris lost his battle with CF at the age of 41. He lived longer than many with this disease, and the timing of his death in the midst of my project was especially poignant. I pray that the babies who receive these blankets will grow up in a world where there is a cure for this disease. If you'd like to help support research into a cure, please consider donating to the CF Foundation.