It’s something I’ve been meaning to teach myself to do for a while – I crochet a bit (see “15 Years of Blanket“), but I’d never tried knitting. My grandmother knit – I have two sweaters she made, and I’m pretty sure everyone else in our family does, too. Those sweaters are everything wool is rumored to be – a little itchy, but exceedingly warm. According to Project Runway, knitting is faster than crocheting, and you can make thicker garments. So, I got myself up to Workshop, where in just three hours, I learned to cast on, bind off, knit, purl, yarn over, slip stitches and knit front-to-back. I went home with a ball of yarn and a set of size 10 knitting needles.
I forget how I ended up there, but somehow I found myself at ImagiKnit on 18th and Sanchez. I bought myself a copy of Stitch n’ Bitch and some hanks of yarn to get me started on a few projects. That was a little over a month ago and since then, I’ve turned out three scarves – one garter stitch with alternating colors, one 2×2 rib stitch in this fabulous wool I’m in love with (Araucania) and one 1×1 rib stitch, formerly stockinette, started by my grandmother and the last project she was working on when she died last year.
I thought long and hard about frogging (the term for unraveling a project) my grandmother’s scarf, which she was going to donate to someone in the military – I wanted to be true to her memory, but it did have a few holes in it (but only a few, which is pretty impressive for a 90 year-old woman who was basically blind). In the end, I decided that because it was meant to be a gift, I should frog it and start again. I chose a rib stitch because it lays flatter than stockinette.
Things like spinning, knitting, weaving, etc. are said to have hypnotic, trance-inducing qualities and I have always found this to be the case. It’s the sort of activity you can get lost in, but that requires a certain amount of vigilance and attention (don’t want to drop a stitch or increase by accident!) at the same time. As I knitted my grandmother’s scarf I replayed the few stories I have of her over and over in my head. About halfway through, my mother was kind enough to add a bit more to a story I already knew – the story of how Grandma managed to get four kids (three of whom were under the age of five – my mom was just a few months old) across a country, and then an ocean, to France, where Grandpa was stationed at the time. The bit Mom added was about how she was too young to be vaccinated, but that they wouldn’t let her go overseas without her immunizations. The military, in their infinite wisdom, suggested that my mom be left behind until she was old enough to receive her immunizations, while the rest of the family went on to France. One call to a family friend (who happened to be a pediatrician), some not-so-above-board vaccinations, and a very sick and grumpy infant later – all five of them were able to make the trip. I took the new information and wove it into the fabric.
I finished Grandma’s scarf a few days ago and have moved on to learn to knit in the round on circular and double-pointed needles (I am by no means proficient at either one of these), right- and left-slanted decreases, single- and cable cast-on. My current project is a triangular head-kerchief (to reinforce the increase and single cast-on skills). My mom has often remarked on the uncanny similarities between me and my grandmother, and as I was finishing the last inch of Grandma’s scarf, Mom and I had the following conversation:
Me: [Spam] is good!
Mom: F—! You are your grandmother! How did you get reincarnated into the woman while she was still alive?!
Me: Think of me as a horcrux.
Mom: Yeah, Grandma probably did kill someone during her lifetime.
Now I’m faced with the task of finding an organization to donate the scarf to. I want to write them a letter explaining why I’m making the donation, but I also feel like I should tell them something of my grandmother’s story. But, the pieces I have are so fragmented and few and far between that I wouldn’t know where to start or what to tell them. Maybe I will just tell them of her intention, and hope that the wearer will find the rest between the stitches.
When we love another heart
And allow it to love us,
We journey deep below time
Into that eternal weave
Where nothing unravels.