Thursday, November 17, 2005

Blanket of many colors

What knitting means to me can be summarized in a short story about my grandmother and a blanket. I told a very short version of this story in a reply to one of my favorite bloggers and it got me thinking.

My grandmother was a knitter. And a cross word puzzle junkie I might add.( Her vocabulary was endless). When I was 15 my family moved to Missouri to be closer to her. At that age, I didn't really grasp how special it was to have such a great grandmother just down the street. I didn't take advantage of her wisdom. However, the few memories I have of her make me warm and bring pleasant feelings. I remember going to church with her out in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road, mowing her lawn and drinkning instant Lipton iced tea afterwards, the small cute glasses with images of boys and girls dancing on them. I remember her rose bushes, the cotton field just across the street and her tool shed filled with all kinds of treasures. I remember her hydrangea bushes but I also remember her knitting blankets for my cousins. Unfortunately, she didn't get around to making a blanket for me. She passed away on Thanksgiving night in 1997.

I wish I could tell her I now know how to knit and often wish I could ask her questions when I get stuck during a project. Or just to pick up the phone to talk about life in general when I get stuck during a rough time.

Shortly after her death my father gave me a blanket. It was a blanket my grandmother had knitted years ago to put on the back of her sofa. I remembered seeing the blanket many many times lying on the back of her sofa in her living room. (Although as a child I didn't look at it closely nor did I care whether is was handmade or store bought.) But when it was given to me, I began to relize its value. I cherished that blanket, I put it away for safe keeping and only looked at it occasionally. Then last year I began knitting (which is another story I'll get to later).

I took it out of storage and began using it occasionally. No one had ever knitted anything for me before, (or since). I realized it must have taken a lot of time to make such a blanket. It was nice to cuddle with to keep warm. I began looking at the stitches closely. They are wonderful, just beautiful. Everything is so perfect on that blanket; spacing, tention, patterns, sizing. Each square is a different pattern. Cables, bobbles, diamonds, ribbing, basket weave and numerous others. Maybe there is a different stitch and pattern to represent each new pattern or step in my life. Maybe this is a way she can be with me as grow.

I feel like a piece of her, or her soul, is in that blanket. I wonder what she was thinking while she made each stitch. Although I can't hug her or knit with her now that she is gone, somehow I feel closer to her when I look at that blanket. I can hold or knit with my blanket when I long for family or need to feel a sense of belonging. I find it ironic that a craft I had no interest in 18 months ago has helped me to grow closer to someone I lost years ago.

If one lesson can be learned from all of this, it is to cherish my friends and loved ones each day. as I swim in my Sea of Scarves I hope that the gifts that I present my family with this Christmas will bring a fraction of the warmth and comfort my blanket has brought me.


At 7:07 PM, Blogger FemiKnitMafia said...

What a beautiful story! I am sure that your sea of scarves will bring much joy for many years to come. And ... post a picture of the gramma blanket, will ya? A girl needs to see those cables and bobbles (in spite of your excellent description).

At 7:09 PM, Blogger FemiKnitMafia said...

Oh yeah, one more thing. This post reminds me so much of Like Water for Chocolate. Did you see that movie or read the book? Emotions are cooked into food, and emotions are knit into stitches. So her love is truly there with you.

At 9:53 PM, Blogger Tallguy said...

Agreed. What you are working on, you put your emotions into it. That is why you never bake bread when you are angry. Everything I knit for someone, has all sorts of memories of them, and feelings for them, and I feel it will go into the item and be with them as long as they still have it.

You are so lucky to have something your grandmother made. Mine grew and spun her own hemp, and wove many things for the family. But she died young, leaving a family that needed to use all she made -- and nothing is left. But I feel connected to her anyway; I never met her, but I think I know her.

Yes, please post a pic of the blanket. She never taught you how to knit -- but she left you her patterns. Because she knew.


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