I’ll be honest and tell you I debated whether to post here about this precious little cardigan, but the point of this blog for me has always been a shared connection with you: fellow knitters of the world who’ve stumbled in here, being people who understand what a mysteriously powerful thing it is to knit, and especially to knit for others. We often describe it as a hug, but what this tiny sweater has really driven home for me is that to knit is to form bonds — some of them beyond description.
This sweater is for my great-niece, Matilda, who lived only a few days. Before she was born, I had envisioned a future hand-me-down. I wanted to knit a Gramps cardigan (because the only thing better than a shawl-collar cardigan is a miniature shawl-collar cardigan) and had picked out this sweet, soft green yarn for it.* As with E’s sweater, I would have made it 6-12 mos size so she’d have time to grow into and out of it before it hopefully got passed on to another baby. When she died, I still very much wanted to knit it and didn’t entirely understand why, but thankfully her mother still wanted it and so I got to have this unexpectedly profound experience. Time spent knitting it these past couple of weeks has been time bonding with her in a way I couldn’t have imagined. I didn’t get to meet her, and she became so real to me as this sweater took shape. And once it became a keepsake, the shape of it changed — I wanted it to be very specific to her. Newborn sized and a pure expression of love.
It’s a gift I hope will convey feelings I don’t have any other way to express.
I’m making this post a Q for You because what I would love in response to this is for you to tell me about the strongest bonds you’ve formed through knitting — with a family member, friend or stranger; someone you’ve knitted for or with, or who has knitted for you? If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear it.
*The yarn is Bummull in “grass green,” which is a misnomer — it’s more of a dusty mint color, so pretty — and I’ve knitted the smallest size of Gramps on US5 needles with this yarn to get it to be newborn sized. (It’s less than one ball.) I added the garter ridges above the ribbing and did a garter-stitch button band minus the shawl collar, but otherwise it’s true to the pattern.
PREVIOUSLY in Q for You:
Oh my goodness. I am so sorry. And glad that you can find some solace in making Matilda this beautiful little sweater. Thinking of you and your family….
I can feel the pain of losing a child. I also lost a child 39 years ago, but I had 18 years to see him grow and his potential. When I read or hear about someones loss the sadness wells up in me. One thing I have learned is to not hold it in. Feel free to to talk about it. My bond is to enjoy my family. I have 5 little Great Grandchildren to knit for, 7,4,3,2 and 22 months, but taking care of husband and home (especially husband) doesn’t leave much time.
I’m deeply sorry about your son but glad you have all those greats to pour love into.
My son was killed and I have his yarn and I am knitting hats for his brothers and sister. I feel a bond with my son while I am knitting with his yarn and the connections between him and the bond he had with us
That sounds like an excellent use of it, knitting you all together.
My son was stillborn in 2009.
I was given a receiving blanket by my mother in law, a beautiful big white lacy knitted shawl. At the time, I didn’t knit, and though I somewhat realised how long it had taken and that it had been knitted, with love, by his Nana, I didn’t fully understand the emotion behind the blanket.
Now, I do. I cherish that blanket and I still have it tucked away in a drawer. I’ve not had another child since, but if I do I will have to decide whether to use that blanket, or knit my own. Part of my wants to have my son connect with his sibling somehow and the other part wants it to be his and his only.
Thank you for knitting the cardigan, I truly understand how cherished it will be. Every small thing I have that is a reminder of my sons short life is so incredibly precious.
Mine has been making hats for all my grandkids…over and over, heh. They love that Grammie can just make a hat in a color they are loving.
I’m so sorry for your loss, and for Matilda’s mother’s, as well.
I’m sure they think you’re made of magic. ✨
When my daughter was born with a major heart problem she was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital. My mother in law made excuses not to come to see her and later admitted she didn’t want to meet her in case she died. I must be honest and say I have resented that ever since. If my daughter had died her grandmother intended to pretend she never existed. In making this little cardigan you are saying that Matilda is part of your family and will always be loved and cherished. And that is the wonderful gift you have given her parents – to know you care and you will always remember her.
I mainly knit for myself, but occasionally for friends and my daughters. Although I adore knitting sweaters I’m currently knitting two blankets and have already knitted several others. My husband loves them and says a home can never have too many hand knitted blankets to get out on a winters night. I love that he appreciates and enjoys them.
That must have been a shocking statement to hear, but I’m so glad your daughter survived. And thank you for articulating that so well about what my gift of this sweater means to me, and hopefully to them.
I felt my eyes brim reading about Matilda. Even to lose a child in utero is terribly painful, and so many women experience that. But to lose a child who came out into the world, I can’t grasp the enormity of that sorrow. What a wonderful thing you made, Karen.
I took up knitting when my mother died too young. She was a creative spirit who knit, crocheted, tatted, embroidered, sewed, gardened and cooked everything from scratch. She had taught me to knit as a kid and I made a few beginner things and didn’t really continue. After she died I desperately needed something tangible to feel connected to her, and so I picked the needles up. I knew to do the knit and purl stitches, that was all. That was 2004. It’s been 15 years, and I haven’t put them down.
I’m so sorry you lost your mom at such a young age, and glad you have that connection. Every time I sew, literally, I think of my mom teaching me how to thread her machine, so she’s always a part of every project. I can imagine that will be a kind of comfort when she’s gone
One of the vivid memories of the days after my son died (it was sudden and unexpected) was having to go home and take his babygrows off the dryer. All babies should have a hand knit and I’m glad that something beautiful made with love has been made for Mathilda. And please tell her parents that it is possible to get back to happy / normal after such a devastating loss even if it doesn’t feel possible right now. All my love to them and you xxx
I have only a fractional sense of that feeling and am so sorry for what you’ve been through. And thank you for those thoughts.
What a lovely gift for Matilda’s mom—and for you, imbued with a range of emotions, healing, and love. And a perfect, soft green, such a healing color and symbolic of life.
It really is the perfect color.
I, too, am very sorry for your family’s loss of sweet Matilda! How wonderful that you can offer some comfort to your niece through knitting (which also gives the knitter peace and comfort)! Baby sweaters are my favorite garment to knit. You can feel creative and accomplished in a gratifyingly short time and they are so cute! When I began to run out of babies in my own family, I started a tradition of knitting a 6-12 month size sweater for my close friend’s new grand babies. Apparently there are no knitters in most of these families, so the sweaters are much appreciated and I have formed new friendships with these lovely young parents. Truly a bonding experience!
Thank you. And I can understand wanting to make as many baby sweaters as possible. They’re so incredibly darling.
So sorry for your loss, Karen.
My grandmother didn’t speak English, and I never learned Chinese. But I have vivid memories of spending days at her house while she sat in her rocking chair and knit. Her home was full of handknit flowers – each of them modeled after real flowers; irises and crocuses and roses and lilies. I always loved them, and every time we went to visit we’d come home with more flowers.
I didn’t learn to knit until after she passed away. I have a small vase with some of her flowers in my bedroom now. Now that I knit, I appreciate them even more, and they’re a warm reminder of her.
That’s an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing it.
Last year, I made hats for my parents, siblings, their partners and my in-laws in the weeks leading up to Christmas. As I made each one I thought about the person I was knitting for. I felt this incredible connection to each of them as I worked. There is definitely something that connects us to each other through this craft, those we knit for and the knitters who came before us.
I do think it’s nearly impossible to knit and not be aware of it as this tradition that is passed from one person to another. And I’m not sure why that’s so palpable when that’s true of everything! It’s such a wonderfully mysterious thing.
One of my close friends taught me to knit 15 year ago, and I think of all the visits we have enjoyed knitting together through life stages. She has had two bouts with cancer over the past few years, and the time spent together knitting while she endured and healed are precious. It inspires reflection on all the feelings and moments in time that get stitched into each garment we knit. The conversations had, soft comfort of the yarn held, interested strangers who engaged in conversation about knitting, memories made and honored over/by/through knitting make it a unique meditation that binds us together. Your blog is a celebration of that. Thinking of you and your family as you mourn. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for this, beautifully put.
I started knitting a baby sweater when I was pregnant with my first child- in light green since we didn’t know the gender. My water broke at 31 weeks. I was admitted to the hospital and told I would be there until the baby was born.
I asked my husband to bring my knitting to the hospital to help pass the time. Three days later my 3 pound, 13 oz daughter was born. She went straight to the neonatal unit. I left the hospital on Thanksgiving day, without my baby.
I spent every day in the NIC unit, at my baby’s side. I felt compelled to be there, even though there was nothing I could do. I worked on that sweater while I sat there, knitting my hopes for my daughter into every stitch. Having something productive to do helped keep me hopeful and sane.
I finished the sweater in time for my daughter’s release just before Christmas. My daughter is a healthy 21-year old now – but I can’t part with that sweater!
I hope this does not sound selfish but the bond is with myself. I knitted straight scarves until age 58 when I said I want to make a hat without a seam! So I feel knitting and I will be old dear friends as it is now my one constant.
II do knit for friends and each project has them in my thoughts when knitting. Pretty awesome how that works.
I support that.
I learned to knit and bake Christmas cookies from my Tante Kristi from Norway. She and her husband were like a third set of grandparents, especially since most of my actual grandparents died rather young. Almost 50 years later, I can still feel Kristi with me when I knit and bake. My mother painted a picture is my first knitting lesson with Kristi, and it is a treasure.
Oh wow, that is a treasure.
My mother (91 years old) returned a cowl that I had knit for her. I frogged it, with a tinge of resentment, and knit myself a hat and mittens with the yarn. In some strange way, it has become a positive connection to her. Funny thing, she does not remember the cowl or that she returned it. I love the hat and mittens and thank her everytime that I wear them.
That’s hilarious, I love it.
I feel a special bond when I make something to send to someone who lives far away. I’ve knitted hats and socks to send to faraway friends and family, or sewn project bags for knitting friends, and it’s so nice to feel that connection and think of the people you miss while you are knitting for them. I also knitted socks for my grandma, who doesn’t live far away, but is the one who taught me to knit, and it felt so special to be able to give back by making her some warm fuzzies.
I’m sure she was thrilled to have those.
I’m reading this after putting down my sweater knitting for my 4 month grandson and I understand you completely. Others have scoffed at my project choice as it will fit just a mere minute, but we really never do know how many minutes we have to offer up love. This is my gift of love. Thank you for sharing, and I am sorry for your loss and that of your family.
My knitted bond is thankfully a much more joyful experience. When asking my grandsons which knitted hat they would like and showing them different patterns the middle child pointed to one. When I explained the dinosaur wasn’t on the hat he exclaimed “I know, I want the sweater too!”
Knitting the sweater with a dinosaur in intarsia was quite a challenge, but when my daughter sent a picture of him sleeping in it my heart sang.
It’s like being able to hug him every time he chooses to wear it.
Such a good grandmother! And lucky little boy.
I think we often forget that the loss of a child affects aunts, uncles, and cousins in a unique way. That you’ve been able to work with mourning and the loss of who you hoped Matilda would become, and that you can hold on to her in this way is a precious thing.
Frankly, one of my strongest bonds in the knitting world is the one I share with you, and I am forever grateful for you.
I feel the same way, Liz, thank you for your friendship.
I lost my son who was just 2 months away from his 18th birthday in 2015, I was completely devastated, had no clue how I could overcome this grief and immense sorrow. He was a handsome young boy with so many dreams and goals, so full of life and was super intelligent and funny. He was loved by everyone. He loved to sew and would often tell me that he wanted to learn sewing. So I thought I could learn something similar and I started crocheting in 2016. This was a much better way to slowly come out of my depression instead of popping pills. Living is become an effort but I have my two daughters aged 31 and 26 for who I have to continue living. My 26 year old is married for 2 years and my older one is engaged. I am looking forward to my son coming back to me as my grand child soon. There’s is a whole in my heart which will never heal and the vaccum he created will never be filled, but I hope I can find some peace through my grand kids. I gift all the scarves,hats, baby blankets to my friends and relatives. It gives me some peace, I know there’s no healing or coping I and my husband and daughters are learning to live with the pain. Crocheting gives me strength to live with the pain….my son lives in my heart…
I’m so sorry for your loss and glad you have that way to feel connected, as well as the rest of your family and those future grandkids. Wishing peace for the whole family.
My great-aunt taught me to knit and crochet when I was 4 years old. Her daughter (my second cousin) took me to craft fairs every year and we would sit and knit together for hours at a time. I grew to love all needlecrafts and I still consider it one of my primary relaxation and creative expression activities. I still have vivid memories of my time spent with them. It was probably the best part of my childhood.
I love that.
Knitting is my life line, it connects me to my past, my lovely nany and all the wonderful talent gifts she passed on to me. Knitting reminds me how simple meditative , repetitive stitching can be to soothe my soul, to listen deeply while doing it. I don’t do lace anymore, just lovely stockinette and garter, love the textural effects of garter. Love the feel and colors of all the new yarns. Deep bright greens and fuschia…sigh…
I was taught European, and my mom knit American. My grandmother taught me and the lady across the street supported my journey through projects. When I watched Mom knit, and anyone else who threw the yarn over, I have no idea what is happening. Remembering all 3 of them is a great memory.
I think this story is a great example as to how “making” pulls us through pain. It honors the difficulty but pulls us through.
Blessings to all.
I only knit for people I love, and have knit many sweaters, hats, socks, etc for family members. Years ago, my sister found out she was having a girl, and I knit a while cardigan with a pink heart on it just for her. She died at birth, and never got to wear the sweater. My sister had three more kids, all boys, and they all wore that sweater when they were babies. I loved that she dressed her boys in their sister’s sweater as a reminder of her.
Thank you for sharing this story with me, Brenda.
I made a beautiful little hat and cardigan for my partner’s niece before she was born. The items were extra special because his family doesn’t have any knitters or crafters, so this was the first baby to be welcomed with handcrafts. Unfortunately, we lost her – she was stillborn. Her parents buried her in my handknits. Her mother was so grateful to have something special to keep her warm.
I haven’t spent much time with my partner’s family, and never got to meet this baby. Knowing that I was able to give them some comfort is a powerful thing, and helps me feel closer to them.
It sounds like it was deeply appreciated and will always be remembered.
I began knitting a scarf when my grandmother was dying, out of yarn from a festival that I had been saving for some unknown purpose, in autumnal colors that reminded me of her. I brought it with me when I traveled to visit her. I knew that it would be the last time we saw each other, and I worked on the scarf during quiet moments, when she was resting and the family was all sitting together in the living room. It was a sad and surprisingly peaceful time.
I took the scarf-in-progress back home with me and continued to work on it. My grandmother died a couple of weeks later, and I ended up running out of one of my yarns a few rows from the end. Unable to reorder any more of the yarn, my heart sank. Then it occurred to me that I had a small stash of handspun yarn that my grandmother, who had been a fiber artist herself, had made many years earlier. One of the yarns was a perfect match for the scarf, just a little brighter than the other skein. I knitted the last couple of rows using my grandmother’s yarn, and I still think of her every time I wear it.
What an incredible way to have her with you.
I learned to knit nearly 20 years ago after watching my grandmother continuously crank out amazing sweaters. She was bedridden for the last two years of her life and could no longer knit. I would knit while I sat by her bedside. In the last few weeks of my grandmother’s life, I was making a baby blanket for a friend. My grandmother would work her hands as if she were knitting while she watched me work on that project. I finished the blanket after my grandmother died, but I just couldn’t give it away. I still have it tucked away in a closet. I think of it as my grandmother’s last knitting project even though she never made a single stitch on it. Your gift is filled with such love. My condolences to you and to all who love Matilda.
I completely understand why you couldn’t bring yourself to give it away. Will you not use it?
Last year I found out I was expecting our 3rd child and decided to make a project that had the same name as the one we had picked out for our baby (I had done the same for my other daughters so it seemed fitting). Unfortunately I wound up losing that baby but made the shawl anyways. When her due date came up I wore the shawl and kissed it while weeping for the baby I wouldn’t be able to hold. I have since lost two other babies and don’t know if we’ll keep trying or not. But I have taken to designing my own patterns and knitting beautiful things to keep my hands and mind busy with positive thoughts instead of the sadness that sometimes wants to overwhelm me. Knitting has been very therapeutic for me to say the least.
I’m so sorry for your struggle with this. That shawl sounds like the hug you unintentionally knitted for yourself.
I’ve knitted and crocheted sweaters, shawls and hats for preemies and for bereavement sets. I shared these with a local hospital labour and delivery department. I also knit and crochet “angel baskets” for a local organization who shares these with parents whose babies do not survive. It is very rewarding to be able to contribute to causes such as these. While I make these precious items I think about the babies, the mommies & daddies and other members of the families who have to deal with losses of this nature.🤱👼🤱👼
That’s so kind of you. Would you be willing to share the name of the organization?
My husband and I struggled with infertility for years, and when my younger sister got pregnant before me I was devastated. I didn’t find out until later that she had several miscarriages previous to that, but I felt broken knowing she was growing a beautiful little life and I couldn’t. I hadn’t knit in years, but suddenly it was my lifeline. I made him a beautiful brioche blanket, hats, sweaters, anything that would help me not resent him. It was slow and hard, but it worked. He turned 6 earlier this year, and my oldest, who just turned 2, became a big brother in August.
I can’t imagine losing either one of my boys. Sending love and hugs to your family.
Thank you. That’s a beautiful way to have worked through that situation, and congratulations on your sons.
A sweet memory for you and Matilda’s mama.
My own daughter passed away too young, but longer than than we had been told. Jennie was born with severe seizures, developmental delays and multiple health issues. Every day was a gift and a challenge. We were blessed to have her for 14 years. I was making matching dresses for her, my younger daughter and myself. I had finished my dress and my younger daughter, but had yet to finish Jennie’s when she became ill. Over the next two weeks we watched her leave us. After she died, I sewed well into the night and for the next two days, putting all my love for her in each stitch. It was the last thing I could do for her. Jennie was buried in that dress, her sister and I wore ours for the funeral. The dresses were spring, pastel, florals and they were a reminder of our happy, loving blue rose. A blue rose is rare, different and beautiful, just like our Jennie. My dress became a pillow, my youngest daughter’s dress was put away for her daughter. It may have to wait for her granddaughter as she has a sweet boy.
Much love and prayers for peace for you and your family.
It must mean so much to your younger daughter to have that dress. Wishing peace for your family in return, thank you.
My personal bond with knitting is that it ties me to my mother and grandmother, and the generations of Welsh women, all of them wivs fo sheep farmers, that preceded me.
But to your point: I worked in an LYS for a dozen years, and it impressed upon me all of the intense emotional reasons that tie us to our knitting. people shared with me the blanket that they were knitting for their premature baby or grandchild, each stitch a wish that things would be alright; they knit through hours of sitting at bedsides of sick and.or dying friends or family members, passing the time, but in a way that each stitch had meaning. They knit for soldiers away at war, friends who are in danger, they knit in memory of what could have been.
This is a lovely thread. Thank you for the question ; I look forward, with tears in my eyes, to reading more.
Thank you. I hadn’t really thought about how many and what kinds of stories must be shared in that setting.
I’m so sorry for your family’s loss; sweet Matilda!
I have strong bonds with a few projects. One is with a 9-year-old scrappy blanket called Parcheesi. I started knitting it on a whim, then thought it would be a great blanket for a then-future (not even a twinkle at the time) grandchild, then it provided focus and solace as my sister Sharon moved through her last months, and I finished just a couple of weeks before she died. It was worked in pieces, so portable, and I’d work on it when we’d sit together. Sharon was an extraordinary artist and knitter; though not prolific as a knitter, she chose the most amazing projects and the quality of her work was incredible. She died 9 years ago this week. I’ve kept that blanket for myself, reasoning that it can then be shared with everyone! I use it often, and have now wrapped THREE actual grandchildren in it… it’s so full of love.
Another bond is with chemo hats that I made for my mother — mostly knit, but also sewn (Alabama Chanin style). My mother was very stylish and, well, she was also quite vain, so I had to knit a few hat variations before there was one that she’d actually wear! I was determined to hit the mark!
Finally, the last time I spoke with my mother we talked about my knitting. I’d just begun a TTL Mystery KAL with some friends/former bloggers in an FB Group, and had brought it to the hospital to work on while we visited. I explained how a mystery pattern works, told her that I dyed the gradient yarn myself. I was happy for the distraction that knitting provided while her condition fluctuated, and eventually declined. It didn’t faze me a bit – I was even grateful – to tink back and re-knit many rows, stitch by stitch, to correct an error. Knitting was something that I could fix! It was the most complicated lace pattern I’d ever knit, and gave me something to concentrate on and think about that wasn’t my mother, though of course I thought about my mother constantly. I looked forward to knitting every night — after work, after visiting the hospital, no matter how late it was – I had to take time. I enjoyed following along with my friends, reading about others’ progress with the pattern, how they felt about their colors, how they were working out transitions, concerns over yardage and whether one had enough stitch markers in their possession. I spent time carefully highlighting my pattern clues, color coding the different sections so that it would be easier to keep my place; breaking it down… keeping control. Therapy knitting at its finest. Though her prowess in knitting never matched that of her sewing, my mom was knowledgeable and appreciative – and I knit many beautiful things for her over the years — and I know she would have loved this shawl. (This paragraph is an edited version of my notes from my mother’s memorial… I talked about and wore that shawl, even though it was August!)
You’ve done such a beautiful job of knitting together the pain and joy and love in the telling of these stories; thank you for sharing them.
For me, it’s the surreal feeling of knitting for my baby girl, with yarn that I purchased when I didn’t think I would ever get pregnant. So when she did arrive, five years and many dashed hopes later, it’s a wondrous emotion to see her crawling wearing something made with yarn that I bought when I was at my lowest.
That’s incredible and I’m so happy that it turned out that way.
Last year I broke down and knit a sweater for my boyfriend of 12 years and the father of my child. When I gave it to him at Christmas, I joked with him and his family about the “sweater curse” and we all had a good laugh.
Not one year later, the bond I attempted to forge with him has been irreparrably broken. Now I am facing the first Christmas I will spend apart from my daughter, as I have canceled plans to go along with her and my now ex on a visit to his family in order to begin our separation.
I’m so sorry, Anna. Wishing you as much peace and comfort as possible as you navigate this.
Your story really touched me. First, because lost life especially at such early age is beyond tragic. Secondly, i had a need to give you a hug to take some of it off of your heart. My story and connection to knitting is somewhat similar to yours. I did not knit for long time. I started briefly when i was young, when i was told that i would not be able to knit what i wanted, out of pure stubborness i did it. Didn’t knit before that and did not knit for long time after that. Most likely because it was really difficult and complex sweater even for me nowadays so it made me lose interest in it. When i had my son my mother knitted pretty things for him and 24 years later i still have them. I did not knit at that time so i missed that opportunity to make something for him, to have that something special between us which these days i am trying to correct.
It isn’t working as i hoped. He doesn’t like sweaters or scarves or anything really that makes him too warm. We live in warm climate now, so not much need for winter clothes. But, i keep knitting for him. Who knows, maybe one day it will mean something to him, too. All the best to you and yours.
I feel certain one day it will. All the best to you in return.
I’ve knitted lots of socks in all kind of hilarious colours. For homeless people, friends, displaced people, hardworking people, etc.
All these socks had my good wishes knit in. Often they brought a smile on the face of the receiver as they saw the psychedelic stripes and colours.
That is the bond in my knitting.
Thank you for doing that.
My grandmother taught me to knit when I was 5, and I never stopped. I still remember that dark green pot holder. My mom was also a fabulous knitter. I inherited their needles and my mom’s stash and while I don’t use the needles much, I enjoy seeing them mixed with mine. My dearest friend battled breast cancer and had difficulty finding a prosthetic that fit. She sent me a photo of a knitted knocker and asked if it was something I could do. I called her and asked if she wanted it to have a nipple, and when I saw her the next day, I gave her her first of many. I used some baby fingering I had on hand. I knit her one to match every bra, but her most worn knocker is still the baby peach, lavender and teal that matches nothing.
That’s amazing — and what a bond for you two to share!
My mom taught me to knit. She taught me and my three sisters. I taught my daughter to knit; sitting across from her as she followed because she is left handed. But one year I dared myself to knit 100 hats as part of a fundraiser for Canadian Grandmothers for African Grandmothers (Grandmothers for Grandmothers) part of the Canadian Stephen Lewis Foundation.
I got pledges from friends and family and earned $850.00 for G4G.
I made hats for everyone in my family for Christmas. And for my grandchildren. I taught knitting and shared my stash with a grade 7 class at one of our elementary schools. I donated hats to G4G for selling at craft sales.
But the best thing I did was to knit 25 different animal hats to donate to a local daycare in the community in Mexico where we go every year. I taught the kids the English names of the animals. And they taught me the Spanish names.
An equal exchange of knowledge is a beautiful thing.
I have made hats and blankets. Stocking hat for our service men and women and blankets for children at Christmas time. I also make blankets for my children, freinds and friends I haven’t met yet . I love giving them away.
Do you go through a particular organization that takes knitting for the troops?
My son had a friend in the service and I sent the hats to him. It was a thank you for helping my son after the bombing at the Boston Marathon.
I once finished a sweater that a dear friend had begun before she died. It was hard and each stitch hurt, but it was an honour, too, that I could not shirk.
I can imagine how happy she would be that you finished it.
I learned to knit over 20 years ago at my Grandmother’s side. No one was more shocked than I to hear that my grandmother knew how to knit. She was the least crafty person I knew. As she sat there she told me about how she learned from my great grandfather who learned to knit in the orphanage in VT. When she was little, he would knit all the hats and mittens for his 9 children. She learned at his side and listened to his knitting stories much In the way she was now teaching me. My grandmother passed away 3 years ago shortly after my mother. Every time I knit I remember my family and their knitting stories. It helps power through the charity scarves and hats that seem like a never-ending stream. I picture the cold children now made warm by the gift of generations past and I smile.
That’s quite a legacy, thank you for sharing it!
Xmas ’95 I made 5 “shoulder huggers” (sorry: although I knit, these were crocheted.) I received 2 back this year (Dec 2019). One belonged to my deceased aunt and one to her older, still living sister. I also got back one of the blankets I crocheted one Xmas, again from my deceased aunt. And, yes,it is a comfort to see my “old friends” again and think of my aunts.
Please don’t apologize for crocheting! I’m sorry I didn’t make it clear that I consider them equal crafts and welcome all stories! And I loved how you’ve described these old friends coming home to you when they could no longer serve your aunts.
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So many lovely tales. May I commend to you all the lovely short story The Silk, by Joy Cowley? It’s often anthologized, and there’s also a film on Vimeo that is wonderfully faithful to the story. It’s entirely in tune with this thread.
I don’t know that one and will look it up — thank you for the tip.
Here’s a link: http://www.rodrigofilms.com/thesilk/
Amazing reading all the touching stories here. My most “bonding” project was a shawl in vibrant, fine gauge wool, for my sister. I started it when we had both just found out that we carry a genetic disease (not sick, just carriers). It took me a couple of years to finish knitting it, much of it in hospital waiting rooms. Fast forward 10+ years, we’re both living well. I love that she has all the love and hope and warmth I knitted into that shawl.
I’m so happy you’re both well!
It’s been almost 17yrs ago since I knit a prayer shawl ( my first) for a fellow Army spouse. After I finished it, I wrapped it up and set aside. I couldn’t bring myself to send it to her. Finally weeks later I sent it to her. She sent me card saying it arrived on the day of what would have been their 25th wedding anniversary.
That’s so lovely.
I learned to knit from my Grandma Joan when I was about 5 – I still have that first little (8 inch) “scarf.” She was a prolific, generous knitter who raised four kids and THEN went to college for anthropology so she could study women and textiles, volunteered teaching natural dyes and collecting textile artifacts, and ran a support center for southeastern Asian refugees, including textile business support for female artists. She always, always had a knitting project with her. After battling ovarian cancer for about 5 years, she more or less suddenly passed away my first day at college. I eventually inherited much of her yarn and several unfinished projects. The most intimidating was an Alice Starmore fair isle vest, maybe ⅔ of the way done. It sat for almost 10 years after her death before I had the courage to pull it out and go after this new style of knitting. As a knitter, the most striking thing to me about finishing that vest was the difference in our gauges – I could actually feel the difference in her fabric and in mine. I always get compliments when I wear the vest now and it really is one of the things I’d grab if the house was burning.
Wishing you and your family peace in this hard time.
She sounds amazing and I can imagine how much you must cherish that vest. She’d be so pleased!
I’m late commenting on this blog, so it’s probable that no one will see this. But I want to tell you about the shawl that I knit for my mom when she was in the nursing home. She was always cold, so I knit her a simple garter stitch shawl out of alpaca yarn. She wore it almost every day for 8 years. She died this past October, so I took the shawl home to wash it, and then brought it to the funeral home. We buried her in it. I know that she can no longer feel anything, but I love that she still has that shawl wrapped around her shoulders. She always hated being cold.
Whether she can feel it or not, she’d no doubt appreciate the gesture, and no doubt knowing it’s there with her is some comfort to you. I’m sorry for your loss and wish you much peace as we head into the new year.
I am deeply touched by your story and that Matilda’s sweater is a way to express your love and loss. Twenty-two years ago I lost a baby son, Patrick, after 6 days of life and I connect on a visceral emotional level with your family’s loss. I am so sorry.
Seven years ago my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer and during his short illness I spent every moment with him and took up knitting. While he was sick I found some yarn and needles in my closet and just knit while I sat with him at home and in the hospital. I hadn’t knit in many years and I think the piece I knit during my husband’s illness was just a very long stockinette rectangle.
After my husband’s death I continued knitting. Knitting became my meditation, my safe place, my place for grief. Eventually and now, knitting has become my joy. I am not an expert knitter by any means but I see beauty and pure joy in choosing colors, holding the yarn and watching it turn into something handmade with love. I knit mostly for other people and it is still my place for meditation and safety but also a place for me to express my love for friends and family and my gratitude for the beauty of the life I have and the memory of those I love.
Knitters often talk about how comforting knitting is, but to have taken it up while your husband was hospitalized and then had it to sink into after he was gone — I’m sure that has been a literal form of comfort. I’m very sorry for the loss of both your son and husband, and thank you for sharing your story with me.
I knit elaborate Aran sweaters for my sons and two of their girl cousins as high school graduation presents. My older son, Kris, died in 2017, at the age of 30, after three years of battling ALS. His high school graduation sweater was one of the most impressive things I’ve knit, and I’ve always loved it. Through the years he would tell me about the compliments he received when he wore the sweater — though he didn’t wear it often. It’s VERY warm. When he died, I asked his wife to give the sweater back to me, and I wear it now. He was my height — not very tall — and it’s actually quite a good fit. But more than anything, the sweater keeps him present for me and reminds me of how much I loved being his mother.
I’m so sorry you lost him but so glad you’re able to keep his memory alive in such a tangible way. It must really be something to put that on.