I have mentioned before that my Mother taught me to knit. I think I’ve mentioned that my Mother is a serious Knitter. She’s been knitting her entire life, and was taught by her grandmother – who sounds like she was another serious Knitter. Mom remembers going over her grandmother’s when she was a very little girl – and my grandmother asking her where her mittens were. My mother said she didn’t have them – and my grandmother just whipped up a pair right there, ready for her when she went home. So knitting has been always a part of my mother’s life, and my memories of my mother always involve the clicking of her aluminum needles.
When I was growing up, I always had mittens and hats made by my mother. I would occasionally get a sweater, and I remember one Christmas where she made my father and I fair isle sweaters from Icelandic Wool (I still have my father’s – and that’s a story for another post). As I got older, though, she didn’t knit for me as much – frankly, before I was a knitter I don’t think I really appreciated what she made as much as I should have. But I did get the occasional scarf, mittens or sweater. Since I started knitting, however, my Mom hasn’t made me anything. She figured that since I knit I could just make things myself. So she’d send scarves, mittens, sweaters, socks to my brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews and occasionally, Dan, Andrew and Cieara. But never me. And I understood it – but sort of wished that I’d get something too.
My Mom is 90 and is starting to lose her eyesight due to macular degineration. She still knits but she can’t knit with anything fine or small needles. And she has a hard time with patterns and remembering where she is. She keeps on telling me that she thinks she is going to have to stop knitting – but you can tell she just doesn’t want to. She loves going to yarn stores, reading patterns and trying new things. Its really hard for her to give it up – and I think she also thinks she’s giving up that connection to me. She was so excited when I started knitting and she loves to talk about it with me.
Anyway, when I was visiting her in February, she was making my sister a scarf. I was joking around that I never got scarves – and she told me she’d make me one. And when she finished my sisters (my mother is a one project knitter), she started mine. I heard about the yarn, the pattern, and how she was struggling to find the right pattern.
Long story short (its already been long I know!) – my mother has been working on this scarf for months – and has struggled through it. She told me its much harder to knit for me than it is for anyone else because I would “see the mistakes” She’s frogged it three times completely because she thought it just wasn’t good enough. I kept on telling her that I didn’t care – that everyone has mistakes in their knitting but she just couldn’t do it. She wanted to send me something that I would love because its perfect.
Last week I finally got the scarf, and I had to share it because I think that it represents the best thing about knitting – the memory, the love and the meaning behind some of the projects we do.
I don’t think that every project represents something – I churn out scarves and socks and things simply because I want to make them. But sometimes projects have a bigger significance to me – the shawl I make for someone carries with it my love and thoughts about the person. The baby booties I made carry with them my good thoughts for my nephew and his wife. And this scarf that my mother struggled to make for me for months carries with it the connection we share as knitters, the love she has for me, and the memories that I have of her. I see the scarf, and although I see some areas that aren’t as perfect as she would have liked, I see the hours, the struggle and love she put into it. And I don’t think that I could ever love something more. When I wear this, I’ll think about her, and will love the scarf, not because its perfect or imperfect, but because she put so much into it. And I’ll cherish it a little bit more because it may be the last thing she makes for me because of her eyesight. I think its a pretty amazing scarf, don’t you? It holds so much meaning, and yet its just a couple of balls of yarn (really nice yarn, but still just yarn).
Thanks for all the nice comments about the cashmere scarf. My mother loved it – in fact, she loved it so much she forgot that I was making it for her friend and thought it was hers. When I reminded her, she asked me if I thought it would be terrible if she kept it -= that it was too nice to give away. I really had to laugh – but it was really nice so I completely understood it as well. I told her that I would make something else for her friend. But I guess that I should make sure its not too nice!
I finished Artemis and just blocked it so next time I’ll have pictures of that. And I may have started a new project – it took me an entire day to decide but I’m really enjoying it. And its not blue!
Have a good week!