Whatever happened to rickrack?

My parents, who were likely attempting to clear space in one closet or another, gave me my baby blanket not long ago.

I’m about to turn 49. And the idea of using my own baby blanket to swaddle my offspring is moot — that bus has left the station. No babies here.

It’s sort of funny how we hold on to things. Like baby blankets. Long after the baby and all her siblings and even her nephews are grown up. But we all do hang on to things. The baby blanket is not just some quilted fabric. It’s the blanket. That comforted me. When I was still sucking my thumb.

But who throws away a handmade baby blanket? No one, that’s who, not even a woman who never procreated and is just fine with that decision. Do not even speak such heresy.

baby blanket

My baby blanket is a snapshot of an era. You’ll never find a baby blanket like mine in the hands of a baby today:

  1. Note the gender-neutral yellow gingham. I was born before doctors could definitively predict a baby’s gender in utero. When I was born, Mom and Dad had no idea if their baby was going to be a Monica or a Monty (OK, I was never going to be a Monty either, but you catch my drift). Nowadays, couples have gender-reveal cake parties where they announce their baby’s blueness or pinkness long before the baby’s genitalia can be diapered. Yellow is so yesterday.
  2. Check out that rickrack. Remember rickrack? That wavy-gravy brown trim on the clown’s attire? This is how Wikipedia describes rickrack: “Rickrack’s popularity peaked in the 1970s and is associated with the Little House on the Prairie and the pioneer sentiment brought about by the 1976 American bicentennial.” So my baby blanket in 1966 was actually ahead of trends. When I was 16, I worked in a Ben Franklin store that carried a vast array of fabric, thread and other notions. Like display after display of rickrack. Rickrack. Rickrack. RICKRACK. If you say rickrack too much, it ceases to have meaning. It also, I daresay, takes up less display space in the local sewing shop.
  3. About that clown. In the 60s, clowns were sweet and fun. Kind of like cotton candy. But in 1978, serial killer John Wayne Gacy — aka the Killer Clown — was arrested, and in 1986, Stephen King wrote It. Clowns entered the cultural consciousness as scary monsters. Only a depraved parent with a twisted sense of humor would decorate the nursery with images of clowns nowadays .

I have vague, pleasurable recollections of my baby blanket. I apparently fingered the clown’s shoes until I wore them away, so the blanket must have been something special to the little me without fully formed memories. So I will store it away somewhere in my own generally overstuffed closets. After all, it might make a nice lap blanket someday when I’m playing bridge, and the nursing home is kind of drafty.

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4 responses to “Whatever happened to rickrack?

  1. When Elizabeth was born my mom very sweetly (and no doubt clearing out closet space herself. You accumulate a lot of stuff after 25 years and six children!) gave me the baby blanket my great grandmother made for me. Elizabeth isn’t too interested in it (it is a little itchy), but I too suspect that someday when I am in need of a lap blanket this little gem will fit the bill perfectly.

    • See! It’s unthinkable to throw something handmade like that away — even if it’s itchy. Maybe itchy was trendy back then!

  2. My little Evelyn has been wrapped in her daddy’s baby blanket, my baby blanket, hand-made sweaters, and soon she’ll be using a hand-made bunting to stay warm in the Minnesota winter. These hand-me-downs are precious and special in a way that can’t be met with store-bought polyester.

    • It’s true — my blanket is well-washed cotton. Very comfy. As I was writing this blog yesterday, I had the blanket on the floor so I could see what I was describing. Immediately, the dog had to be involved, and she found it comfortable enough for a nap. I hope your baby sleeps so soundly in her hand-me-downs.

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