Friday, July 27, 2007

Love Monogram

Knit for the Love of it

It started with the measuring tape, as it usually does. I got it for my Mother one Christmas when there wasn’t a lot of money; it is hard to narrow down the year as there were quite a few tight money holidays. I purchased it from the Lillian Vernon catalog and sent the order form off with my check in the days before the instant gratification of online ordering through the Internet. My mother was an avid craftswoman and needle artist with an emphasis on knitting so I knew a tape measure was just the ticket. The case was silver, sterling it said and the tarnish that exists today tells me that this is at least partially true. I had it monogrammed, BJJ, not because there were more sterling silver tape measures in the house but because it was pretty, and she liked pretty even as sensible as she was. Mom always did like pretty. Every time I would come to visit I’d notice the tape measure near the sofa where she sat doing another Aran sweater, or perhaps a fussy piece of lacy something. I knew she used my gift and probably thought about me each time she slid the tape from the shiny case to check her progress on a project. As I held the tape measure, now mine and most cherished in my hands I remembered her lasting legacy, that of using your hands to create love with yarn and floss and sometimes strange things like pantyhose and empty liter bottles. My Mom gifted me with the art of being creative, of loving fiber and of enjoying the work of my hands.

I was 7 when I learned to knit, I mean REALLY learned to knit. I had flirted with one of those early I Cord machines and had knit the same two rows of garter stitch, ripe with holes and ladders before having my Mother cast on afresh—but I was only 5 then and not experienced and mature like knitting at 7. My Mom and I were off to Girl Scout Camp, how I had looked forward to it. With my troop of giggling girls I spent weeks folding newspaper and cutting and lacing oilcloth to make a serviceable Sit-Upon. I had created my Buddy Burner and had collected recipes for delicious Toad-In-A-Holes and Campfire Stew. My bags had been packed weeks ahead of the day we were to leave for camp, I was so excited. And there, under the swaying oak trees, the Spanish moss waving to me from their perch above, I became a Knitter. A group of girls, I remember about 10 of us, sat with my Mom on our Sit-Upons, ready to embark upon the adventure of knitting. My best friend Carolyn just didn’t get the whole thing and soon ran off for a boring game of some kind. She still doesn’t knit, poor thing! But under the tutelage of my Mother we all learned to cast on our thick woolen yarn. As we learned to form the stitches our clunky wooden needles worked under our furrowed brows. “In through the window, out around the back, out through the window and off pops Jack” mumbled our lips as we worked the verse to guide our clumsy fingers. Calamine lotioned poison ivy and red bumps of mosquito bites were forgotten as the magic of knitting grew under our fingers. It was a wonderful two weeks at Camp, and by the time I left for home I had almost completed a scarf. It was royal blue and the stitches were so tight that it really didn’t have much drape. But I had insisted on the heavier yarn because I so loved the color, and at the time I found the scarf to be perfect and I wore it for several years until Kenny Morris stole it from me. I heard he married badly---- darn shame, isn't it?

The case is now tarnished no matter how many times I polish it, and it boasts years of use marks-- fine scratches and scuffs. It resides in my felted knitting bag, back in the pocket keeping company with the other tools that see frequent use. Still the silver tape measure always brings me back to my Mom and her stitches. I will always see her using it, and I will always hear her voice and feel blessed that she gave me one of life’s most precious gifts.

Her sewing box, Wedgewood inspired blue and white with a ding on the lid, a few old and ratty skeins of yarn long missing the identifying band, a crochet needle too fine for much of my use today and a package of long rusted sewing needles are my reminder of my Mom and that summer comes but once a year. It is time to laugh, and love, forget about the things that really don’t matter in the long run, and to knit like you first fell in love with it. To hunker down with a big smile and knit like crazy, to knit for pure pleasure and maximum satisfaction.

Knit for the love of it, the happy process of smiles and giggles. And maybe, if the day is to be perfect you might open a box of graham crackers, and slide on a hot melty marshmallow and a square of chocolate and enjoy one of the finest summer treats in the world.

The Gull border is coming sloooooooooooooooooooooowly because I can't sit in my jammies and knit all day and am a little miffed about it! This is the last nubbit of yarn before I crack the last skein.

the growing 'raisin':

I bought the CUTEST pattern for a bag last night (Dana you got me in trouble!) and the yarn for it from KnitPicks. I must say that I'm now very anxious to give it a go. Deets later...........


Jenni said...

The measuring tape is so pretty. I have a bunch of cheapo plastic ones laying around. That was a great gift idea.

You could always finish a repeat of the gull pattern and then start knitting plain. That's the beauty of Pi. It will still look great.

Renée said...

Tina, your Pi is gorgeous. Love that Gull pattern, don't you? Your yarn in the pictures looks so much like my own Pi. Brown with little flicks of other color fibers? I know the computer changes color shades sometimes. What yarn are you using?

Beautiful thoughts about your Mom. A real tribute.

hapagirl said...

What a lovely post about your mother! I love your description about learning to knit at Girl Scout Camp.