Originally uploaded by fireflowerknits
The shawl edging is two-thirds of the way completed now. I’ve been able to pick up the pace on it somewhat by placing a marker through the last repeat I worked the day before so that I can see just how much I’ve knitted each day. I feel much more motivated if I can see some indication that I really am making progress. At this point it is an act of knitting endurance. I have to stay focused and make steady progress, day after day, in spite of the lure of other projects. It was encouraging to spread it out across the floor for this picture and see that it is really coming together as I envisioned.
I’ve started thinking about why I feel the need to embark on epic projects to mark significant occasions. This one is in part a tribute to my parents endurance, to their determination to hold together even when things were tough. To me it represents the beauty and symmetry of their relationship, burnished by decades together. To see them together, so happy, is a profound gift to my brothers and me. It has taken work, and courage, and faith. They have given us something rare these days, a family that extends unbroken through multiple generations.
Somehow when I go to express my deepest feelings for people, it comes out in knitting. Words don’t seem enough, they seem too easy. I’m not good at keeping in touch by phone. I can be flaky at times. But from time to time I make something for a loved one that they can always keep with them, so that a piece of my love for them is there to wrap up in even when I’m far away from them. When my youngest brother went to college in Chicago I made him a steady stream of knitted and crocheted gifts as my way of keeping him warm, even though he was now all grown up and definitely past wanting my big-sister protectiveness. On his own in the Windy City, he was happy to receive my knitting and I was happy to send it. I was both pleased and horrified last fall to find he was still wearing a scarf I had knitted from bargain acrylic (at least it was soft bargain acrylic) in my earliest days as a knitter. I promptly made him a new scarf, although that was before Knit Picks had come out with its superwash line, so a nicer wool-acrylic blend was the best I could do on my budget at the time. I was almost sad when he and his wife and son moved back to Arizona, since they hardly need my knitted love living in the desert. However, I have found that keeping my two children supplied for Pacific Northwest winters (and falls and early springs) has kept me with plenty of outlets for my knitting. And of course, I’ve discovered epic lace knitting, which is good for sending knitted love to desert-dwellers (at least the female ones). I seriously considered coming up with some separate anniversary gift for Dad, but I realized that really he has everything he wants already, and whatever makes Mom happy is what pleases him most.
Knitting for the people we love is a natural way to find the intersection between our creative pursuits and the other people in our life who may not share them. It is a tangible way to express our feelings to loved ones who may be far away. Thoughtful handmade gifts can be more meaningful than storebought ones because our loving intention goes into the working of them, and carries through to the person who recieves them. A family friend recently mentioned that when she was visiting my sister-in-law on the east coast she was asked to repair a bear I had crocheted years before for my niece. It had been literally loved to pieces. Few storebought gifts live long enough or are loved enough to be repaired after years of use. I certainly don’t knit every gift, but for certain people who I know will appreciate them, a knitted gift is the best way I know to communicate my love.