The effect is not quite as I wanted. Pam’s bridal bouquet included flowers that shone like molten gold in the Texas sun. The stripes I hook are wine-red, heather-ish green, coral, eggshell and black. The colors are close enough, though. The blanket is for the baby, a first child, who is due somewhere around February.
I so dislike American baby colors, the powdery pinks and humid blues, the synthetic-mint greens and inert yellows that photographs turn chalky white, homogenizing identities instead of celebrating unique and adored new lives.
The Chinese envelop their infants in the most astonishing colors, shocking oranges, glowing pinks and acid greens and, of course, the crimson of good fortune. When my Tattooed Boy was new and unmarked, his Baba sent whole wardrobes from Beijing where she and my stepfather Charlie were “foreign experts.” He was brought home from the hospital in scarlet silk brocade quilted with blue patterned cotton and edged with white rabbit’s fur. He wore one remarkable tangerine sunsuit appliquéd with little figures in the winter because he would have outgrown it before spring.
One day in the late 1970s I was headed into—our maybe out of—the Star Market on Mt. Auburn Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A new mother I might once have described as a “hippie” carried a pink-cheeked cherub in a woven sling. My memory is a haze of sparkling eyes, affection and India prints enfolding the purple paisley scarf tied around that small bald head.
I have crocheted a lot of blankets: the hot colors of dawn in Anja’s wedding gift are still bright some thirty-seven years later; Theo the cat has made our dark-violet afghan her personal blanky; my Tattooed Boy’s baby blanket, reduced to a tangle of yarn, finally vanished in the washing machine when he was about twelve.
I felt bereft when it was gone.
My Tattooed Boy’s baby blanket was crocheted from the softest heather blue, heather brown and cream-colored wools. The colors were my colors, my coloring and the colors I like to wear. Despite the fact that my pregnancy went nine months and nine days, it was still unfinished when I went into labor. In those most ancient of times, it wasn’t unusual for new mothers to spend a day or two in the hospital. I enjoyed the luxuries of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital for a full five days as Jonah—someone I never imagined as a Tattooed Boy—lounged under bright blue lights that leached away the excess bilirubin that had given his skin a faint bronze tinge. As he lay in the basinet, eyes protected by cotton-gauze goggles and a face-mask for a diaper, I sat in a chair knotting the yarn with my hook.
This newest blanket is just underway. It must be complete by October 7 when my Tattooed Boy wings to Texas for a
visit. I do not know whether the baby is a boy or girl, but it does not matter. The crocheted colors are the colors of the bridal bouquet, and like the child they warm, the symbol of lives now knotted together.