Centennial Blanket

Cactus Needles Knitting Guild
Arizona Centennial Blanket Project 2012
    The Cactus Needles Knitting Guild  was started 17 years ago for people of all ages and skill levels to get together and knit, share their projects, and socialize. Our goals are to provide education to advance the quality of workmanship and creativity in knitting endeavors, to contribute to charitable community organizations such as Project Linus http://www.projectlinus.org/, and to provide social opportunities for knitters. Our members are a diversified group, coming from all over the Valley of the Sun, working and retired, and with varying levels of knitting ability.
    Our guild members voted to be a part of the Arizona Centennial celebration by designing and knitting a blanket that would represent Arizona and contribute to the education of our citizens.
    Designed by Liz Rees, a 13-year guild member, the overall blanket is made up of nine blocks, each one knit by a different guild member. Liz then sewed the blocks together and knit the basketweave border. Each knitter was allowed to choose their colors from the available light and dark yarns given to them. This blanket is made of cotton, which is an important crop in the growth of Arizona.
    At the top of the blanket, you will notice the word "Arizona" flanked by the numbers 1912 and 2012. These stand for the date of our statehood and our centennial year.
    Mirrored handprints trail vertically down the right and left sides and across the bottom of the blanket. These represent the diversity of people in Arizona and the many hands that created this blanket.
    The center of the blanket features a sun motif of concentric circles surrounded by rays. Some ancient people considered the sun to be their main deity, therefore, the sun was the symbol of life, protection and goodness. The sun plays an important part in our lives as it brings tourists to our state and nourishes our crops and cattle. Cattle are symbolized on our state seal, along with cotton, as another important industry for Arizona growth. We find the word "sun" in many of our state names, including the ASU Sun Devils, and on our state flag as a setting sun. Old gold and liberty blue are the state colors, which are also seen on our state flag. The Centennial Blanket motifs float on a background of blue.
    Arizona's sunny climate is also largely responsible for the state's thriving sports life, including, but not limited to golf and baseball.  For example, the economic impact of Baseball’s Spring Training on Arizona is enormous as we realized more than $362 million in 2011.   The golf industry contributes well over $3.4 billion to Arizona's economy each year, provides nearly 20,000 jobs to local residents, brings thousands of visitors to our state and significantly contributes to the beauty and value of our communities.
    Notice the cactus vine winding between the sun and the handprints. The cholla cactus vine represents a common image of the Sonoran desert and represents our ability to flourish in a land of little water and an abundance of sunshine.
    The symbols used in this blanket are based on petroglyphs. This term is made out of two Greek words, “petros” (stone) and “gliphein” (to carve). Our designer used the book, Rock Art of Arizona--Art for Life's Sake by Ekkehart Malotki, in her research and for inspiration. The author's notion that petroglyphs helped reduce the huge vastness of the landscape into something more manageable and human was a great influence on Liz's design plan. Petroglyphs are located all over Arizona and can be viewed at such places as V-Bar-V Heritage Site in Verde Valley, Painted Rock Petroglyph Site near Gila Bend, and Deer Valley Rock Art Center http://dvrac.asu.edu/ in Phoenix. These various rock carvings were created by the native people of Arizona, which include Hohokam and Anasazi.
    The basketweave stitch used around the border evokes pine needle basketry and the mountains of Arizona.
    At the lower right corner of the blanket are the words, "Cactus Needles Knitting Guild," which declares the makers of this Centennial Blanket.
Suggested Readings and References
Arizona, A Celebration Of The Grand Canyon State by Jim Turner (Gibbs Smith, 2011)
Arizona Impressions by Bernadette Heath and James Randklev.  (Far Country Press, 2005)
Arizona, 100 Years Of Grand: The Official Book of the Arizona Centennial by Lisa Schnebly Heidinger
National Audubon Society Field Guide To The Southwestern States by Peter Alden and Peter Friedrici. (Knopf, 1999)
The Nature Of Arizona, An Introduction To Familiar Plants, Animals And Outstanding Natural Attractions by James Kavanaugh  (Waterford Press, 2005)
The Rock Art of Arizona: Art for Life's Sake by Ekkehart Malotki, Mary Jordan and Donald E. Weaver (Kiva Publishing, July 31, 2007)
Learn to Knit
A To Z Of Knitting, The Ultimate Guide For The Beginner To Advanced Knitter by Gardner, Sue (Ed.) (Martingale Company, 2007)
Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitter's Guide: Stories, Patterns, Advice, Opinions, Questions, Answers, Jokes, and Pictures by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne (Potter Craft, Feb. 9, 2010)
No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting by Anne L. Macdonald (Ballantine Books, April 7, 1990)
Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook by Debbie Stoller (Workman Publishing Co., Sept. 3, 2004)
Super Stitches Knitting, Essential Techniques Plus A Dictionary Of More Than 300 Stitch Patterns by Karen Hemingway  (Watson, Guptill Publications)
Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book by Vogue Magazine Knitting Editors (Sixth and Spring Books, Aug. 28, 2002)

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