I’ve finished the Birthday Blanket and am ready to raffle it off for charity!
If you’d like the chance to win a handwoven (by me!) king-sized, mostly wool, blanket. All you need do is donate money directly to Doctors Without Borders and then email me and tell me the amount that you donated. There is no minimum donation required; give what you can. One entry per person. On February 19th, I’ll randomly select a winner from all of the entrants and mail the blanket to them.
If you’d like to see the blanket in person, I’ll have it in the rotunda at Madrona Winter Retreat in Tacoma on Friday (2/15) and Saturday (2/16). I don’t have a booth or any formal support, so just look for the woman spinning on a Pocket Wheel with a ginormous folded blanket next to her.
The blanket is delightfully cozy. I used Highlands Shetland in Black Cherry as the weft and it became lofty and soft once washed and brushed. The other yarns are mostly-ish wool. They range from hand-spun silk and cashmere, to alpaca, to acrylic, to various types of wool. They were sent in by people all over the U.S., and some overseas. Much of it is handspun, including some of my first yarn, a lovely three-ply by Brenda Dayne, and some singles yarn spun by my son Kai when he was three years old.
The binding is recycled silk from old shirts. I folded it over as in a quilt binding and hand-stitched it on. This blanket is full of intention and love. It’s light enough for three-season use in most parts of the United States. And it’s a generous king size. If you have a smaller bed you can probably fold it in half and use it. Here’s what it looks like on my king-sized bed.
It’s been a long time since the project started, so let me restate what this is. When I was 39, for my 40th birthday I asked that people would send me 40 yards of a yarn that represented them. My plan was to take their warp yarns, weave it off with a weft that represents me, and have a wonderful reminder of all the people in my life who encouraged and supported me.
I got yarns from WeaveCast listeners, WeaveZine readers, friends, family. I was heart warmed by the amount of yarn that came in. I had a birthday party / warping party in which people, both weavers and not, helped me wind 21-yard warps. The plan was that I’d weave off two king-sized blankets. One to become my bedspread, and the other to raffle off to charity to support Doctors Without Borders.
Then life happened, or rather life and fear. Or if I’m completely honest, mostly fear.
I hate to disappoint people, and ironically, that often leads me into doing exactly that. Fear that what I create won’t be good enough can paralyze me.
So the fact that this blanket is finally finished, and that I’m posting it here is a triumph of sorts. A slow, painful triumph over eight years of fear and exhaustion.
I’m trying to learn from this experience how I can get out of my own way when working on big projects. Some of the things that made this one hard were:
- Being afraid of failing, of disappointing others.
- Fearing the technical challenge of weaving a warp with so many different yarns, each with different shrinkages.
- Fearing my new-to-me AVL loom, with all its unknown complexity.
- Moving house, and being afraid to re-assemble my loom.
- Working insanely long hours at Amazon and coming home too exhausted to think.
- Having a breakdown from overwork and getting diagnosed with a chronic condition.
- Looking away from the project because it had been sitting idle too long, and I was embarrassed it wasn’t done. (repeat endlessly)
- Avoiding the project while writing a book.
- Avoiding the project while working at Google.
- Finishing and then being too embarrassed to write this post or ask for help getting the word out about the raffle.
Through all of this, however, I never forgot the project. I felt that I owed finishing it to the folks who’d sent me yarn. Slowly, quietly, I worked on it. Not as often as I could, not as frequently as I should. Now it is finally done, and I’ve gathered up the courage to write this post.
The emotion I’m feeling is some combination of pride at never giving up, embarrassment at how long it took, and relief that I can finally get this out into the world and let it go.
The blanket is lovely. Like me, it’s imperfect. It was created with love and intention. I hope the person who wins it enjoys it.