Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Influential People

This past mother's day, I thought a lot about the people responsible for "leading" us to knitting. They aren't necessarily the same people who taught us how to make the stitches themselves. My paternal grandmother taught me to knit and purl when I was seven. I never continued to make things after that first sad garter stitch square. My mother sewed but I like to believe she understood how therapeutic it is to create something. When I was in 4th year University I came home during February mid term exams. Sick with a wicked cold and sleep-deprived from studying - I had a bad case of the February blahs. "You need a project" my mother announced and we visited our local craft store on the way home. Our mission- to pick up a project to save my mortal soul from the depths of melancholy. I found some beautiful yarn and a pattern that caught my eye. It was an intarsia mohair sweater. Gee, there's a great project for someone who's only knit a Lopi Icelandic sweater before! It was 1985 and sweaters were baggy and images were geometric. I still have a few of the balls left over, the brand name is Georges Picaud Tricheuse and I remember the project cost about $78 - a huge expense. Mom paid for it without commenting on my usual champagne tastes (some things never change). I cast on and picked away at the project over the course of my final year. Thursdays were for Knot's Landing and knitting! My room mates often asked if they were going to get to see it finished before we all graduated. Not a chance.

I worked on this sweater off and on over the next 10 years. I'd think about the project when I came across it from time to time but never picked it up again. During this time, my mother became ill and our last summer together we went to a cottage in Northern Ontario. The weather was incredibly horrid forcing us to stay inside and read those ancient Reader's Digest issues that seem to be a standard feature of every cottage. An article entitled "Mr. Knitting" caught my eye and for the first time I got to see some of Kaffe Fasset's designs. I was smitten.

When I got the call the following March that it was time to fly to Vancouver Island and be with my mother, I impulsively reached for the mohair sweater. Long hours sitting vigil in a quiet house and then a quiet hospital room were spent picking up where I'd left off ten years prior. The nurses would come in to check on mom and take a look at my work. It was a welcome "normal" conversation in the midst of craziness. After the funeral, I kept at the knitting until finally, it was done. I've never stopped casting on since. My assembly is very primitive (it's still not my forte) but it fits and it's an FO. I've never really worn it. Mostly because fashions have changed and this feels so "eighties". I'll never part with it though because it was such a key part of delivering me to this hobby ( no), pastime, (not quite), obsession (yes) called knitting. I'll also never part with it because there's a bit of my mom in every stitch.


8 comments:

Lolly said...

What a lovely post. The sweater is a true treasure. xxoo

Romi said...

Now I'm all teary! And speechless.

May said...

Michelle, glad to came by today to read your post. Thanks for sharing your sad but beautiful memory.

Robin said...

What beautiful and bittersweet memories are reflected in your sweater! Definitely an item to keep in a special place in your closet.

vanessa said...

count me in on the waterworks. lovely story michelle.

Hope said...

Awwwwwww. I'm all choked up.

Diane said...

Me three on the teary stuff. Nice post.

Dr. Steph said...

A great story. Thanks for sharing.