by Cameron Hildreth

Temperature Blanket Update: May

I really did not see any of this coming. "I should make a temperatu...
Temperature Blanket Update: May

I really did not see any of this coming. "I should make a temperature blanket!" I said. "It will be fun!" I said. "It will bring up all kinds of introspection and reflection of how I came to be the weirdo I am!" I absolutely did not say. Also, this thing is going to be huge. It has nearly achieved its full length, thank goodness. Whose design was this, anyway? But, as per usual, I digress. Back to the reflective bit.

The month of May holds what I recently learned is the holiday responsible for nearly as many gift purchases as is Christmas; Mother's Day. For many people, it is a day to consciously and joyfully honor our mothers, letting them know how much we appreciate everything they have done for us in addition to the often unacknowledged physical feat of irrevocably ravaging their bodies in the act of delivering us to our existence. For others it can be a painful day, reminding them of a mother from whom they have been separated; through death, distance, or estrangement. Whatever the day means to a given person, it usually evokes a thought (or a thousand) about one's mother.

While working on my blanket in this month of the mother, I got to thinking about mine, albeit in a rather roundabout way. (Admittedly, this is generally the way I think about anything. I VERY rarely get from point A to point B without at least 128 tangential stops at random mental carnival rides or museums of Completely Useless Information. As you have probably noticed by now.) Poking through the pile of bits and bobs of yarn chosen for my blanket,  I found myself taking a good look around me at the sometimes comforting, sometimes smothering and overwhelming, cocoon of yarn and fabric in which I nest. Perhaps one day I will emerge from it as a glorious fledgeling butterfly, but at the moment I feel I more closely resemble an ignominious middle-aged caterpillar. A caterpillar with a seemingly unhinged desire to have all of the yarn and fabric she can get her tiny little legs on. This one cocoon could hatch a million butterflies, but for now the walls of it seem to get thicker while its inhabitant does not develop.

Upon deeper (self) examination, I realized that it is not entirely unhinged. I am a third-generation yarn shop owner, although that was not my plan for life at a younger age. My maternal grandmother had a little yarn shop in rural Pennsylvania long before it was cool to be a yarn shop owner. My mom had a huge, beautiful yarn and craft shop here in Bozeman in the late 80s-mid 90's.  I had been attending college while working there for my mom, but quit school to help her manage her shop while she got through an illness. I discovered then that the siren song of yarn was much sweeter than that of higher education, and abandoned other career ambitions in favor of yarning. After she closed down her giant yarn shop, she and I had a little hand-knit gift/yarn shop together. The rest, as they say, is history.

Needless to say, I have spent more time with my mom than may be typical for others in my generation. The gift of this time is something I am deeply grateful for. I've had the chance to know her as her child, but then also as a mother myself, giving me the perspective to see her as the person behind the motherhood. I understand better the feat of strength that it is to keep your own spark of personality alive while trying also to keep your offspring alive. My adult friendship with my mom let me see who she was in a much more intimate way than had my childish dependence upon her.

This tiny little person is host to a bonfire, not merely a spark. (I point out her diminutive stature at every opportunity because she is one of the few people I know who is shorter than I am. Sorry, mom.) She is tough as nails and perhaps the most stubborn person in the history of stubborn.  She left home at a young age and moved across the country to California by herself, which when I was young I thought terribly glamorous, but now seems terribly brave. I don't know what prompted the move, but I do know that it was something that had never been done by anyone else in her world. I've traced her family tree back many generations, and they all lived and died in the same small rural county.

If you need a seemingly impossible amount of stuff Tetris-ed into a very small U-haul truck, or can't remember the name of a character from a TV show in the 70's, she's your girl. Cooking, not so much. Her most memorable weekday dinner from my childhood was something we affectionately referred to as "grey stuff". Don't ask. When the computer program she purchased to manage the inventory of her shop (in the late 80's, mind you, when VCR's were still a new thing) didn't do what she needed it to do, she re-wrote the program in binary code. Who does that? She can make anything grow, anywhere. She is quietly hilarious and brilliant and empathetic. Do NOT piss her off.....she may be tiny but she can can take you out with a verbal rapier of wit and humor that leaves you laughing even while you are trying to locate whatever is left of your dignity. If you are fortunate enough to be someone she loves, she will do absolutely anything for you, no matter the cost to herself. I could go on for days about all the things I admire about her, but I won't. She would get up on a stool and punch me.

I'm not sure which of those traits I have inherited, other than the cooking. Ask my children about that one. The one thing I do know I got from her, looking at it through the lens of this blanket, was the gift of being able to look at the tiniest little ball of yarn or scrap of fabric and having 17 different ideas of what to do with it. I promptly forget most of the ideas, but I do have some good ones. For her, this gift applies to things in addition to yarn. She has the ability to wring the last drops of usefulness out of anything and coaxing them to grow into something new and beautiful. 

Broken chair? Art in bloom. 

For me, I have all the ideas. All of them. As a result, I am utterly incapable of letting even the smallest scrap of yarn out of my hands, because I am sure I will do something brilliant with it. (Hence, the very over-grown yarn cocoon.)  Which brings me in my usual roundabout way to the point of this post, which you have probably forgotten by now. I am making this blanket from yarn accumulated as a result of this beautiful gift from my mother. The fact that I don't always use the gift to its fullest potential doesn't matter. I'm so grateful for it, and for her.

The hexie centers for June are navy blue, which fortunately looks great with any of the other colors in the blanket. Those kind of shocking confections of green and mismatched yellows in the hexies pictured above the little navy centers could have benefitted from some color neutrality. Stay tuned for the next update, and call your mom if you can. 


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Your words made me laugh and tear up! The image of your mom getting on a stool so she could punch you is hilarious! Thank you for paying tribute to your spit-fire of a mom with such beautiful and reflective insight. Sounds like you two really are “cut from the same cloth.” The wit, the stature, the creativity, and, sadly, the cooking. Hey, if one area has to go, let it be cooking!! Love, Claudia

Claudia Crase

Tracy! You are impressive in so many ways. Your creative energy is clear from your work, your kindnesses and this writing! So good. Thank you and sorry I missed you at Knit in Public Day. See you at the store soon, I suppose. Hugs.

Jodi Hausen

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