I finished knitting a new sweater the Sunday before last. This wool is from my neighbor’s East Fresian sheep down the street, that I told you about a few months back. This sweater was a long time in the making as I had to knit it twice. Yes, twice. The pattern is written so that you knit the front, then the back, then each sleeve. And if you’ve been knitting for a while too, you would probably have been just as disappointed that you had to knit four separate pieces. There are so many knitting patterns now where you knit the front and back as one continuous piece and combine it all with the sleeves so that it’s basically knit as one big piece. So believing that I really knew what I was doing in the knitting world, I decided to knit it from the bottom up, front and back together and add in the sleeves and work my way combining them right on through to the shoulders. Then I tried it on. As it turns out, I don’t know as much about rewriting knitting patterns as I had thought. The sweater fit horribly. Sometimes it’s very good to be humbled.
My mom taught me to sew as a child and when I’d sew a seam that was slightly askew, or a dart that didn’t taper just perfectly, she’d head straight for the seam ripper and rip it out and have me do it again until I’d gotten it right. She wasn’t mean about it in anyway, it was more of just a calm insistence that every seam must be correct or you are going to end up sewing something that doesn’t fit well at all. And isn’t that a big point of making your own clothes? So they fit you much better than anything you can buy?
So with that in mind, I ripped the whole darn thing out and started over. This time following the pattern writers exact directions. I sized down a needle size and a pattern size to get a better fit. And I knit all four separate pieces. Now it fits almost great…except my mom’s voice keeps calling me from the back of my head saying, ‘you’d better redo the top part of those sleeves again’. They just aren’t fitting into the arm holes correctly. That can be fixed pretty easily.
Now while it was my mom who taught me about sewing and the correct fit of a garment, it was my grandma who taught me how to knit. Growing up she would have me down to her and my grandpa’s house one weekend a month. And each month she’d have a new project for me to work on. We made all sorts of different things together, from Christmas ornaments, to mushroom prints, to needlepoint, to rug hooking, and of course knitting. It was in her green floral print chairs that I first held those straight metal knitting needles so incredibly awkwardly. She was a big believer in the idea of keeping your hands busy. She too sat night after night in front of the tv with some sort of hand craft project to do, usually hand quilting. She believed in the social aspect of craft, meeting monthly with both her Quilt Guild and her Lady Fingers group (love that name for a craft group!). Had this been her day and age, she would have been so excited by all the quilting and knitting and general crafting being shared online!
She was a patience and sweet teacher to me. To everyone. Aside from my parents she was my greatest influence in life. She taught us to keep my fingers busy, to keep learning, to travel, and to explore. By example she taught us to enjoy live theater, to eat your leafy greens, to appease your sweet tooth in moderation, but mostly she taught us by example to be kind and generous to everyone you meet.
She passed away peacefully, with my mom at her side, the same day as I finished this sweater. I love this sweater. I love that the wool comes from a short walk away, from a very nice family, I love the cable pattern on the front. I love that it completely softened up after blocking. And I love that it will always remind me of what my grandma and my mom have taught me. People don’t last forever, but what they can teach you can be passed down from generation to generation and in that way their spirit will always be alive and with you.