Fort Augustus resident Sarah Defoe turned a newfound passion for crocheting into a unique keepsake to remember how she found comfort in 2021: a blanket that uses bright colours to record 365 days' weather in Prince Edward Island.
Defoe said she got the idea of making the temperature blanket after seeing some other crocheters' creations online, including mood blankets.
"I know people have done the mood blankets, but moods are all over the place. I figure this is kind of more straightforward — I can follow the colour pattern of the weather," Defoe said in an interview with Island Morning.
Defoe needed about 20 minutes to complete a single row of crochet for each day's weather. That amounted to about 121 hours altogether.
Defoe only began crocheting last year, and welcomed it as a way to enjoy "downtime" away from household activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I get the cleaning up done and hide from the kids playing during the day, and then I take a little bit of time to crochet and just relax," she said.
The colours on Defoe's blanket span from white, which signify the coldest days of the year, to orange, which signify the hottest. Together, the spectrum of colour tells a story.
"You'd be able to see like a bright orange in the middle of summer, or you'd be able to say, 'Oh well, that must have been a really hot day,'" Defoe said.
"And then you'll see like a really light coloured white where it was probably –16. Like in January, February, you'll see a bit of a white colour for it because it was a colder day."
Other colours in the blanket such as purple, dark blue, blue and violet indicate the colder days of the year, while green and yellow indicate warmer weather.
P.E.I. warmer and drier in 2021
Defoe's work visualized data for a year that had remarkable weather.
According to Adam Fenech, associate professor at UPEI's school of climate change and adaptation, the weather on P.E.I. last year was warmer and drier than usual.
"This is what climate change has promised us, and it sure delivered last year," Fenech said in a recent interview.
For instance, the Island broke three temperature records on June 8. Summerside recorded the highest ever June temperature on P.E.I. at 32.7 C, breaking a 74-year-old record.
Unlike previous weather records, the new ones set in 2021 didn't just beat preceding records by minor numbers, Fenech said.
"Historically, when we talked about records being broken, it's usually just by a percentage of a degree Celsius. But no, this year (2021) in June, we had that day (June 8) breaking the old records by as much as one degree, two degrees, or even five degrees warmer in Summerside," he said.
Despite worries about climate change, the warmer weather brought some benefits to P.E.I. last year, such as a good harvest season for farmers.
"I have often said that there will be winners and losers under climate change. In the short term, Prince Edward Island stands to benefit from the warmer and drier conditions that climate change brings," Fenech said.
As for Defoe, she completed her project on Dec. 31, after six steady months of work. She enjoyed making the blanket and has received positive feedback about it, she said.
"It was a lot of fun. I had my kids help hold it up, and I took some pictures of it and then put it on the couch. It is so warm," Defoe said. "A lot of people have said that they have liked it, and it's neat. It's a big project to do."
The temperature blanket will not be Defoe's final crochet project. She said she hopes to complete a crocheted wall hanging mural in the near future.