Tuesday, March 10, 2009

:: Blanket ::

My dad has raced motorcycles since...um....I can't remember a time when my dad wasn't racing motorcycles. Dirt bikes. Most of my childhood was spent laying under a motorcycle, in the back of a van, inhaling gas fumes, while my younger brother (dressed in full gear) pretended to race and my mom and dad held hands across the divide of the front seats, belting out Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings until somebody got hurt. My dad would be driving us to the mountains, and we'd camp while he looped a hundred miles or so around the mountain on his bike. He rode enduros, which were, well, endurance rides. You couldn't be a champ through brute force, you had to be fast and you had to finesse the clock. It wasn't a race to the finish; it was a test to make sure you 'Goldilocksed' the course. You couldn't get to each checkpoint too fast, and you couldn't get there too slow. You had to get there just right. And my dad almost always did. He was the number one enduro rider for 5 years, back in the '70s. He's still quite famous in those circles, and he's still fast enough and tough enough on a bike that bad-ass riders, half his age, give him his props and shake their heads at what he can still do.

I loved that childhood! I loved that we got to spend every weekend camping and fishing and swimming in lakes. I loved it when it snowed, I loved it when we went to the desert. I loved it when we rode our bicycles, when we rode the motorcycles, when we roasted marshmallows around the fire. I loved it when the adults would get all liquored up, and forget that we were there, tucked into our sleeping bags, and that we could hear them still talking by the dwindling fire. I loved the way my dad would come in for more gas, and he would take off his goggles and he'd have just that strip of white skin around his eyes; the rest of him was muddy and dusty and I loved the way he and his friends would come in and down a quart of gatorade because they were riding so hard. I loved the way the bikes sounded on the morning of the race. I loved that my mom cared only about us, and ignored everybody else. It's amazing how many people want to be your friend when you're married to the prom king! But she just knew him as the jackass who took the sink out of her kitchen, then wanted to spend every weekend in the mountains, while she spent every week doing dishes in the bathtub. You could say that she wasn't as impressed.

I did not love, for the record, being attacked by wasps, losing a Barbie doll in a particularly rough river crossing, or breaking a rib on the mini-bike. But everything else? I definitely loved it.

My dad doesn't race anymore. But every year, he and his motorcycle club (my second family, all of them I've known since I was barely Scotty's age) put on a race. We all go up there, camp, and chip in however we can. There was a box of t-shirts in the closet of the office at my mom's house, and they were most of them from that race. It used to be called the 'Cowpuncher' (a bit of a sick joke at the expense of a rival motorcycle 'gang' (ha!) that put on an enduro called the Cowbell), and I think over time it just sort of became known as the Wilseyville Hare Scrambles.

I cut off the fronts of shirts, where the graphic and the year shows, and sewed them together into a big grid, five feet across by six feet down. Sewing with t-shirt material? Not that fun, for an amateur such as myself. I understand a "serger" is a machine that would come in handy in these cases. I puzzled and puzzled, and finally ended up ironing stabilizer onto the backs of each t-shirt square. It gave the knit fabric just enough 'umph' to make it through my low-end machine.

It was a really big job, but I finally got it all put together. It's impossible to photograph a blanket, I've decided, and this time I can't even blame my camera! It's just hard. But this is the general idea of the front of the blanket.

I sandwiched the t-shirts, some Warm and Natural batting, and a piece of dark blue flannel. The flannel is printed with little black paw prints of different wild animals. I didn't have enough flannel, so I had to spend, oh, about a month trying to figure out what I was going to do. It was too long, and too skinny. So I trimmed off the bottom, cut that extra part into two pieces, and pieced it back together some pretty red t-shirt material. I found a t-shirt with The Bone on it (there is a real bone, I think it is a cow femur that they found in the woods on a ride) and I also cut out a piece with the name of their racing team. The Bone is given to a member of their motorcycle club, usually because they did something really, really, stupid. Usually involving breaking something on their bike. Or their person.

Do you know? In the end? It turned out I liked my little work around better than if I had had enough flannel to just back it in one piece. Isn't that a nice surprise? I really hope he likes his blanket. I made my husband sleep with it for one night, to test it for warmth, comfort, and durability. He gave it a thumbs up!


  1. Your dad is going to love it! It came out so good. I always wanted to take pieces of my kids old clothes and make cut outs for a sentimental blanket. In the end, I just felt so bad when those clothes could still be used by other children so most were donated. Maybe I can do it for my Grandchildren :)

  2. I'm sad because my comment from yesterday is not here...but what I said then was "whhhhyyyyy? whyyyyy don't we live closer? I want to come over and sew with you. whyyyyy?"


  3. I'm the other aunt of Kelly. Betty was up recently and told me of your quilt. Great Job! I, like your Mom, had a bag of race shirts and good intentions of making them into a quilt. They were my son's triathlon race shirts. When he married some fifteen years ago, I happily handed the project down to my daughter in law. What a cruel thing to do to a new daughter in law. Three children later, she is still the proud owner of the bag of shirts. I know one day when life settles down she will make the quilt.