My mom knits. When I say she knits I need you to understand, I’m not just talking about the occasional hat or scarf, the freak-show holiday sweater. She really knits, a true knitting machine. She learned this skill (and I do mean skill) from my father’s mother, Virginia Eldridge – who was a masterful knitter. Mom took to it whole-heartedly and has made many crazy -freaking- rad, things for me, and others (but most importantly, me), over the years. As an added bonus, she has style and taste; so being on the receiving end of one of her projects is always (almost.always.shhhhh!) a serious thrill. Case in point: Dig this purse she made me years back. Maybe it will help you see that my mom is not the run-o-the-mill, every day, ordinary, knitting granny. Now keep in mind, it’s a little worse for the wear. It’s several years old and well loved.
Most of the things I’ve been fortunate enough to receive from her, I’ve absolutely gone nuts over. Some things, well, not so much. But every one of them was and is appreciated because of the love woven into each stitch. Like with any time consuming craft, just the knowledge of all the effort and focus, time and commitment involved in the construction of whatever she makes is worth way more to me than the actual gift itself. And that speaks volumes, because the actual gift itself is so often priceless.
With some help from my sisters, and a few of their adorably perfect kids, here are a some of our favorites through the years:
Naturally, I’ve tried on several occasions to pick up the old needles and create something equally impressive, but I’ve only ever finished one thing. I made the standard, the token, the most typical first project of all: a scarf. This scarf was horrible, so horrible it was used only once, on a snowman. You know how frosty was transformed by an old hat? He was magically brought to life and it was wonderful. My scarf had an equal, but opposite effect. The snowman transformed, but in a bad, bad way. Very angry snowman, evil looking even. It went on a rampage and frightened small kids. All due to the rottenness of that scarf. True story.
So anyways, you must be wondering why I am so obsessed with knitting when I’m so obviously disconnected from the knitting abilities in my family? Simply this. What I remember most vividly about watching my mother knit in the past is not the painfully slow progress of a project, but rather the fluid unraveling of a mistake. She would simply tug at the yarn and the rows would disappear, almost magically unwind, into nothing but one single string. Always fascinating to me, she could just pick it right back up, at the exact place she chose, and start again.
Several years back, I started having the feeling that I was a design unraveling. And I pulled on that string for dear life. I began unwinding. All the self-destruction, every stitch of my wasted time, wasted brain cells, my wasted money, love, hate – all of it – I wanted it undone. Not so that I could get any of it back, but so that I could forget I ever threw it way it to begin with. Let me tell you, the speed of the deconstruction was terrifying, yet at the same time, not quite fast enough. Because at some point I realized when it was finished, what would remain would just be the string of me. And I could pick it back up; I could become something new. Something better.
I’ve learned so much from my mom, directly, and indirectly, by watching, by listening. So lucky am I, not just because she makes me the awesome knitting projects I often demand, but mostly because I once got to witness her become a masterpiece from just an unraveled string. And that people, gave me hope when I was falling apart. Best. Gift. Ever. Except for maybe the slippers. I really, really love the slippers.