personalized cotton knit baby blankets by ellaine caplan feferman

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Thebabyblanketlady Ellaine Caplan Feferman Personalized Cotton Knit Baby Blankets

 

Growing up I never imagined I would become the Baby Blanket Lady ! How did it all start ?

I  was born Ellaine Caplan and raised in St Catharines, a quiet city in  Southern Ontario. Even as a child, I loved crafts and was always making  things with my hands. My mother, who taught me how to knit, still tells  how my nursery school teacher, Miss Currie, saw my artwork and praised  me for what she considered my natural talent. I did it all: embroidery,needlepoint,knitting,  crochet, sewing, macrame, rug hooking, sculpting, painting and even  designing my own creations for my beloved Barbie doll.

When  the time came for University, I had my sights set on the Ontario  College of Art( now OCAD ). But in those days, the OCA only granted a  diploma, not a University degree,and my parents wouldn't hear of it. So,  I went off to York University for a " real" education in Psychology,  only to discover the newly created Fine Arts Department. Each year, I  took more and more Fine Arts credits, and by my fourth year, I was  totally immersed. After graduating from York U., I attended University  of Toronto Faculty of Education and received a Bachelor of Education  degree in Art Education. I landed a job with the Scarborough Board of  Education and taught High School Art for 5 years. During this time  I enjoyed my real love of textiles as we developed a Grade 12 textiles  course that covered spinning, dyeing, weaving, needlepoint and  knitting..all the things I loved. On my own I wove large freeform wall  hangings of hand spun and dyed wool, and had my first one-woman show at  the gallery in the Scarborough Civic Centre.

​At  a Club Med holiday in Playa Blanca Mexico, I was introduced to hand  painting on silk with French Dyes and I went home and started painting  scarves, garments and challah covers for the Jewish Sabbath. When  boutiques in Downtown Toronto began selling my creations, I was featured  in articles in the Globe and Mail National Newspaper. At this point , I  left teaching to devote myself entirely to a career in the Arts. I  enrolled ( finally ) at the Ontario College of Art ( now OCAD )  and  studied textiles. It was there that I was introduced to Machine Knitting  !

When  pregnancy with my first child Benji forced me to stop using toxic  French Dyes, I enrolled in a course at George Brown College to study  Machine Knitting. While studying there, a cousin gave birth to a baby  and I decided to knit a blanket with the baby's name, and so began my  long and rewarding career as the Baby Blanket Lady !

The  first blanket was made of Sayelle, a synthetic yarn and looked nothing  like the blankets of today. I developed my style through experimentation  and finally sourced out a local brand of cotton that came in a  beautiful array of colours. People began to place orders and suddenly  business was booming....many of my contemporaries were having babies and  when people received a blanket as a gift, they wanted to give them to  their friends...the business spread by word of mouth !

​I  was constantly knitting and when I became pregnant with twins, Cory and  Robyn , I was sitting crocheting edges on my blankets while in the  labour room !

​Shortly  after they were born, we moved to a very large and very beige house.  This prompted me to study Faux Finishing which was just becoming popular  at the time. I studied at the Finishing School, a very well respected  school in Great Neck, NY and I was soon accepting commissions for faux  finishing and stencilling in other people's homes, while still producing  baby blankets.

​There were  roadblocks, too. The firm that manufactured the cotton in mid town  Toronto closed and Brother stopped producing knitting machines.  Nevertheless through it all, the blankets were still made, as did new  inspiration and new classes in mixed media painting at the Arrowmont  School of Arts and Crafts in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. I also  had the great privilege of studying with acclaimed doll maker Akira  Blount. I also attended Teesha Moore's Artfest in Port Townsend WA  many times. I loved studying with wonderful artists such as Claudine  Hellmuth, Janet Cooper, Lesley Riley, Juliana Coles, Lynne Perella and  Michael de Meng, to name a few. All had a tremendous influence on my  creative career.

I  feel that I have flourished as an artist because of the loving support  of my children Benji, Cory , and Robyn as well as my life partner Leo.

​Today  I am making second generation blankets....Babies that loved my blankets  are now becoming the parents and buying my blankets for their children  and friends...even my own son Ben who had many blankets as a child has  his own four children, Yoni, Ezra, Shaya and Orly and they are enjoying  my blankets.

​I  get phone calls all the time, and the first question is "Are you still  making the baby blankets " and they are thrilled that the answer is is "  YES ". I hear so many warm stories from people about how the blankets  have impacted their lives in such a wonderful way. I love hearing how  children now in their 20s and 30s still have their blankets !

Thanks  for stopping by. Now you have a bit more information about the person  behind the baby blankets that you have come to love. I feel privileged  that so many thousands of children call my creations their " blankie"  where they cuddle for comfort and warmth.It truly warms MY heart.

To you all, my deepest thanks for making me " The baby blanket lady ""

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