This photo is a pretty good representation of a lot of my memories of her. Knitting everything on long straight aluminum needles. And yes I had to take a photo of a photo because that's how old I am!!
These two are the only photos I could find of me wearing hand knit sweaters made by her. This seems insane in this day and age where there are a thousand photos of EVERYTHING, but that's the way things go. And can you see that to take the 'selfies' above I had to use a long cable attached to my camera on a tripod. A manual camera, with FILM in it. I don't think my son will ever really know what film is! But I digress.
This sweater in particular is extremely special to me. I still have it tucked away in my cedar chest. My mom made it for me when I was a junior in High School. As you can see it's an incredibly intricate pattern. Even the background stitches over the ENTIRE sweater are basket weave! This is a 40" chest people, that's a lot of switching from knit to purl. The most insane part of all of this is that even though I lived with this woman I never saw her knit a single stitch of this sweater. It just appeared on my bed one day folded in all it's immaculately new glory. How she managed that I can not tell you. Nor can she tell me, since she passed away 20 years ago, just a few years after this sweater was knit and those 'selfies' were taken.
I'm pretty sure that I was drawn to really learn how to knit by some need to connect to her. I didn't learn for real until I was out of college and working for a children's publishing company. My mom had tried to teach me a million times but it ever really took. Then as a 28 year old working at my publishing job the call went out for test knitters for our new Knitting book. I told the editor that I was a knitting novice and that I hadn't held needles since I was 7 or so, but the magical thing was that when I picked them up again and started knitting, it clicked. Somewhere deep in my brain was the knowledge my mother had given me years ago. It was still there and I haven't put the needles down since that day! I feel connected to her whenever I knit and it almost feels like she's knitting with me.
Fast forward to this year. I kept wanting to knit a cable sweater that would remind me of her, but be one I could actually wear now. Somehow that 40" chest seems outrageously humongous now! How I ever wore it then is a mystery. Ahhh the early 90's when girls wore enough clothing for 3 people instead of barely enough for one.
I purchased yarn and pattern for Burrard thinking it would fit the bill nicely. I cast on last JANUARY!!!!!!! and started knitting away. I got the sleeves done in no time. Then on to the back where I got stalled for a few weeks because I mis-crossed a cable and didn't have the bravery I needed to drop down those stitches to fix it. My best knitting friend P helped me get over my fear while she was visiting for Stitches West. Then I moved on to the fronts and halfway through the first one I bottomed out. It went in a bag for the entire summer while I happily knit socks and hats and other small mindless items.
This Fall when I picked it back up I realized I was no longer intimidated by it. I could anticipate the cable crosses and I could sense when a mistake was about to happen before it happened. And then ***Poof*** it was finished!
It still needs buttons and a serious photo shoot outside on a bright day since this color is impossible to photograph, but there it is. My 21st century rendition of the cabled sweater my mom made for me. I think putting it on will feel like a warm hug and I will pretend it's a hug from her. Thanks mom for teaching me that you can do wonderfully amazing things will a ball of string and a couple of sticks!