I started knitting at Easter this year. I had learned to knit as a teenager, and made a jumper under my Mum’s direction. I hated it, so many rows done and redone, to the point that I put down the needles and didn’t pick them up again for nearly 20 years.
My Mum was an avid and beautiful knitter. Almost every knitted thing my children have owned through their lives came from her. The teddy bear suit my daughter had as a baby, my son’s incredibly complicated and impressive circular blanket, the rainbow jumpers made up of all her leftover wool which were always greatly admired by everyone who saw them. My house is filled with her creations in various mediums, but the knitting was most transportable, so I saw her knitting the most. When I think of knitting, I think of my Mum.
This Easter, my Mum tried teaching my daughter to knit. She managed to cast on 10 stitches, and then declared herself done. I thought “I know what happens next” picked it up and haven’t really stopped since. My Mum bought me materials and a pattern for a wash cloth, and then I knitted and knitted and knitted. One of the washcloths I kept, one I gave to my sister and the best of the three I gave to my Mum. She loved it.
I tried my hand at crochet as well, making little hearts and flowers, some of which I gave to my Mum before I moved from New Zealand to the States mid-year.
My first big project was a blanket for my dearest friend. I knitted the blanket and crocheted flowers to decorate it, sharing my progress with my Mum and sending her pictures regularly as it progressed. In between finishing the knitted blanket and the final decorated flowery present, when I felt intimidated by what I was trying to do, I knitted a wash cloth for my Mum for her birthday (which wasn’t until December).
Also in this period, my Mum got sick. She went into hospital in September. I sent her the birthday washcloth early in the hospital as she’d been hinting she wanted more (with great subtlety!) and I thought it would help her feel good.
As soon as I finished the blanket I started knitting more washcloths for Mum’s birthday. I had been planning to do four, and now I had to find more patterns because I’d sent her one early! I also knitted other washcloths for other people (some of which have been given, some not yet). Everytime I felt worried, or scared, or wished I could help my Mum, or help my Dad and sister caring for her in the hospital, I knitted.
As my Mum recovered and a trip to visit us next year was mentioned, I knitted. As she took a turn for the worse, I knitted. And when it became too much and she moved to palliative care and it was obvious birthday presents weren’t worth saving, my dear sister and Dad took time to show my Mum pictures of the things I had made for her. The washcloths and the crochet elephant that were meant to be messages of birthday love and were not really sufficient to properly convey a lifetimes worth of appreciation and admiration.
I shared a hobby with my Mum for six months. Being honest with myself I know that one of the reasons I picked up the needles in the first place this year was because I was moving away and it was something that made me feel close to my Mum. If I had dreamed for a minute that the last time I saw my Mum alive would be July I can’t even begin to list the things I would have done differently. Knitting and sharing those very first steps and creations with her would not be one of them.
I am so glad I started knitting, so glad I was able to make my Mum proud and show her I loved her in one of her mediums this year. So glad that I started this while she was alive and didn’t discover I enjoyed knitting when it was too late to share this with her at all. So glad for the moment when I first put my hand in one of the pockets of her jacket, which is now my jacket, and found the little hearts and flowers I had made.
I’m so grateful to have her needles and to feel my heart breaking and mending a little with every stitch. I have so many more things I had found which I wanted to make for her “one day”. I thought I had time.
She was one of the most amazing people I will ever meet. Everything I ever knit for the rest of my life will in some part be for her.