December 7, 2020 by Dr. G
In 2017, I started crocheting temperature data. It was inspired by a tweet I saw on Twitter at the very beginning of that year of a temperature blanket the size of a bed comforter, and I’ve had an incredible amount of fun scouring the NOAA records for daily maximum temperature data to use. I’ve made items that include a scarf made from a year of data following the first day of work for an administrator at my campus, to semester-long mini-tapestries separated by 50 years of data to show my students as the semester progressed. I crocheted a temperature tapestry representing the temperature record starting at the establishment of a local arboretum (see summary). And I’ve even presented about these crocheted temperature examples at an American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting (see summary).
But my latest focus of crocheting temperature data – creating a temperature blanket as a baby gift.
It is very simple to do. Once the baby is born, I can look online to see what the daytime high temperature was, and each day add a new row to my blanket. After three months, I have a very personalized baby blanket as a gift! Granted, the gift is then three months late (after the baby is born), and I have to guess what the range of temperatures might be to establish the yarn color scheme from the start, but it is worth this when the reaction comes in from the newborn’s parents.
I’ve created another blog post as to how and where to find temperature data, especially if the baby is not born in your local area. And there are no rules that say you have to crochet a row each day – one can certainly wait until after the first three months have concluded to determine the colors to use with the temperatures. And there is also no expectation to use the rainbow colors – red for warm temperatures, and blue/purple for cooler temps. I’ve actually been criticzed for using the ROYGBIV scale, as it can be difficult for those with varying degrees of color blindness to see the difference across the scale. I encourage you to use which colors you feel comfortable with (and which colors you have in your collection and available to use!). I’ve been a fan of using the super bulky  Bernat Blanket yarn (regular, Baby, Brights) for my rainbow effect.
When I gift the blanket, I also include a description of what the blanket shows, a graph of the temperature data plotted, and some facts about what happened with temperature during the first three months. For example, for the blanket pictured in this post, below is the graph and random facts I included with the gift.
I should note that I focus on daily weather data, not how much the temperature varies from the climate record for that date. Having the blanket share climate data would have it look like something you would see in the climate warming stripes graphic – an all-red blanket, and a reminder that the baby was born into a warming world. Temperature data is much more friendly and less anxious when it stands alone.
This handmade gift is then shared by the parents with family and friends – in essence, I am also turning the parents into science communicators, getting them to think about the changing temperature in the world around them and how it has changed in such the short time of their newborn’s life. I don’t know the long-term impact of the temperature baby blanket – does the family talk about what the colors mean in the blanket with the kid when they get older? Does the family keep the blanket? At least, for the short-term, I know the blanket brings joy and a little bit of science to the lives of the family.