March 5, 2014

Hayley's Blankets

I am so, so proud of Hayley’s heart. She approached me late last fall because she wanted to make a blanket for her aunt’s upcoming baby.

Be. still. my. heart.

And then she asked me to help teach her how to sew so that she could contribute to the blanket... and she asked me to sew the rest.

Be. still. my. heart.

*It’s been a lifelong goal of mine to teach all four of the children to put a bit of themselves into everything creative that they do – to hope it, to dream it, to make it with their fingers or their voice – and then to eagerly give that gift which includes a part of their heart, to someone they love. This is why ‘handmade’ means so very much.

And so Hales arrived one day with enough blue and gray minky fabric for 2 crib-sized blankets. I had never sewn with minky before because the rumors are awful; minky is the absolute devil to stitch because it is slippery and makes a holy mess everywhere. But having the minky gave me some direction at least. I fussed over details for many weeks. It became sort of an ordeal.

If I’m being honest, my heart was sitting out on a cold and scary New York apartment ledge about these blankets. They became very symbolic to my heart because the whole request meant so much to me. I was so concerned the blankets wouldn’t be ‘good enough’ and I wanted them to be just right for Hayley. I wanted to make Hayley happy and make her family happy, and because I’d be sewing more of my own heart into them with every stitch, I felt strangely at risk. Would feelings about me as her stepmother cloud Hayley’s beautiful gift? I have to say, there were times when it was hard for me to be Jesus about it, pinning minky on the floor and fussing. But I prayed it out and God got my heart to where it needed to be. It finally occurred to me that it only mattered if the blankets were good enough for Hayley and for me. We were about to have a whole experience together. And we would stitch as much love into those blankets as God would give us!

Once I had that epiphany, everything went so smoothly. With Hayley’s blessing, I selected white flannel fabric with itty, bitty, blue polka dots for the front of the blankets and gray acrylic yarn for the ties. I purposefully kept the blankets super simple and full of opportunities where Hayley could help. We did not use a pattern. We used blue minky on the back of one and gray minky on the back of the other.

Once the fabric sandwiches were made and turned right side out, Miss Hayley got to work on the floor with me. We strapped our hair back and put on a wedding show. She helped with the pinning and the repining and the unpinning (there was lots of pinning). She learned how to thread a darning needle with yarn (lots of times) and how to line up her knots. She learned to stitch them super tight because a baby could be chewing on them. She asked lots of questions and we practiced division because, duh, why not with all of those knots right there in our hands? We had time to jaw about boys and cooking and her new glasses, too. Hayley is the best at sneaking in soft puppy licks of quality time like that. Hayley patiently worked on her blankets beside me for hours.

After our knots were knotted we hit the machine. Hayley was fabulous! She was eager to power that sucker up and was very interested in the mechanics of the walking foot while she used the pedal. She asked a hundred questions and I found myself completely forgetting what I was ever worried about because clearly, this whole experience was more than good enough for the both of us. My heart was grinning! I felt like the luckiest mama ever to be sharing this with her!!!

It just so happened that the blankets were finished on her aunt’s birthday. After finding the perfect box, Hayley picked out some wrapping paper from the closet and made a birthday card. We folded and wrapped and then had a quick lesson on curly ribbon string for good measure.

When Hayley left our house that afternoon, she was glowing. GLOWING. She beamed from ear to ear, just like my heart. She said she was proud she had the idea to make something using the love in her heart and then finished it. She carried the gift out to the car and giggled the whole way.

Late that night I considered our project and I was humbled. I texted Hayley to thank her for allowing me to help her make the blankets. I told her how proud I was and how much I loved her. She sent me a huge THANK YOU!!! back and my heart flip-flopped sideways in my chest. She told me that her aunt cried when she unwrapped the gift and held the blankets in her hands. In fact, she said Hayley’s blankets were the best gift she’d ever gotten.

Well, oh my. Now THAT is handmade heart right there.

But I think maybe I’m the one who got the best gift out of the whole ordeal instead.

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