This is Gray Bear. At least, that is who is he to me, even though we only met for the one day it took me to make him. He has since traveled across the country to his destined home in the wilds of Montana… or really into the arms of a little boy. He is the finishing touch to one of my best kept secrets, and it is certainly a hard thing to keep such a secret from a dear friend for so long!
In September 2014, I had the idea of putting together a (surprise) baby blanket for my friend Katie and her little boy to be. I envisioned making something that as a whole represented her nearest and dearest friends and family members, so I put a call out to those who might be interested in contributing a personalized square. In anticipation of having to stitch everyone’s individual creations into a streamlined grid of a blanket, I requested 12″ squares, knowing that this way I’d have some extra fabric to work with. I also wasn’t sure how many people would end up making something and wanted the pieces large enough so that together they equaled the size of a baby blanket. Although they did end up varying in size, it was easy enough fitting the pieces together in a tidy fashion. As I began to assemble the squares, I got a bit carried away and made a few extra ones to include throughout. What resulted was not really a baby blanket, but a quilt large enough to fit a twin size bed!
When I was a child, my parents had a large quilted bedspread with an overall forest scene pattern. The print appeared as though you were flying above a forest and looking down on the treetops. Repeated throughout the forest, the pattern featured an estate-like building, some deer, and possibly a bird or two. Even though these things repeated over and over across the entire bedspread, I loved to lie on top of it and imagine scenes happening between the deer, the various estates (I thought of them as castles), and who might be living in them. As I worked on this quilt, I imagined Katie’s son growing up and asking, “Who made this one, momma?” and her replying to him with stories her childhood and from all of her friends.
Here you can click on the individual squares to view up close, and to see who made each one…
Lastly, a few more detail shots. As you can see here, Gray Bear fits into the “pocket overalls” in the second row. These were Katie’s husband’s first pair of overalls that his mother sent to me whole, and I stitched onto a square. I put them near the top of the blanket so that as the little one grows, he will be able to reach into the pocket for his special friend, who will have a safe place to sleep each night.
Sometimes the magic just happens.