Knit the Dog

[...because if I ever run out of yarn--- I can just knit the dogs.]

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mom's Laprobes

Mom would have loved our bright pink azaleas; just the color for an afghan. When I was young, she crocheted and tatted a bit, but was probably too busy to give yarn much attention. After Dad died in ’91, though, she took up knitting with vigor. She’d go to the bargain store and get log-size skeins of synthetic variegated yarn, the brighter the better, preferably with some pink or red included. [This woman had a bright pink kitchen with red and white curtains and red-checked oilcloth on the table for 60 years. She knew what she liked.] Then she’d cast as many stitches onto long aluminum straight needles as she could, enough to make a rectangle about three feet wide. The only stitch she ever learned was straight garter. When it was long enough, she cast off. My job, when I came to see her, was to weave in all the ends, go around the edge with single crochet, and then crochet a shell stitch border. When she had a few, she’d take them up to the nuns either for the old folk’s home [older folks than Mom] or to sell at a flea market.
The last afghan, knit during her final year when she was very unwell, was never finished. As her sight got poorer and the pain medication more frequent, the piece spread into an uneven mass of dropped stitches and knots. Still, she liked to spread it on her lap and pick up the needles, and drift off to sleep. I kept the last skein, a rather startling mix of fuchsia, purple, pink, and blue. I kept all her metal needles and the bone crochet hooks, the silver thimbles, wooden darning egg, and soft faded tape measures. I still use the needles now and then, and the worn down tips and silvery ends fill my heart. I feel connected to a long chain of women knitting and crocheting, back to some ancient Irish grandmother spinning thick sheepy wool for a fisherman’s sweater. Some Red Heart yarn in the “Azalea” colorway would have been right up Mom’s alley.

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