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I knit to be connected

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I knit to be connected.

I could easily write about a million words about why I knit. This morning...(guess what time it is....???) I'm starting the first of a million words about knitting or crocheting to be connected. Connected to each other, connected to our individual histories. Just as each stitch in the fabric we knit or crochet is connected to the stitches before and after it, knitting and crocheting connect us to our past and our future.

I love the connections to my past with knitting and crocheting. Nearly every week someone comes in the shop and asks about the tiny peach sweater in the shadow box. I say "It was my baby sweater." "Your baby's sweater?" "No, MY baby sweater, I came home from the hospital in it." The tiny peach sweater was knitted just for me in 1968. (I'm the last of 5, so there were a LOT of hand-me-downs, but that sweater was just for me.) I was a February baby in Wisconsin, and wool was what you bundled small people in. That beautiful sweater, knitted in peach wool, on size 2 needles was what my grandma thought was the best way for her new grandbaby to be warm. Mom hand-washed the sweater and blocked it bigger as I grew (pssst....hand washed, last of five kids...) I wore it for a lot of the first year of my life. When I look at that tiny sweater, knitted on tiny needles, just for me, I feel an amazing connection to my amazing grandma.

My Grandma was an incredible knitter. In the days she was knitting, the garment being created was actually knitted to keep her people warm. My mom tells stories of the blue cardigan, hand knitted by her mom, that she wore to school nearly every day for first and second grade. It was Wisconsin, it was cold, and hoodies were not allowed at St. Mary's Catholic School. Navy blue cardigans, please and thank you, worn over the required uniform.

The black and white picture on the magnet board behind the register of the cutie with the fantastic bow, and the even more fantastic dimples is my mom, in the nave blue cardigan. First grade, 1942. The navy blue cardigan was hand washed gently and blocked a little bigger as needed. And when mom grew out of that cardigan, the entire sweater was unraveled, the yarn was wound into hanks, soaked, hung to dry and then re-knit into a bigger size. Mom figures she wore the same wool in some incarnation for several years.

My past is strongly connected to sticks and hooks and string. From the red vest my mom crocheted for me in kindergarten, to the afghan worked as a giant granny square that adorned my bed in high school, and still gets pulled out on chilly days, my history is connected to this art I love so much.

And, my future is connected by sticks and hooks and string. At the point my dear sister was graced with the joy of becoming a grandma, I could not wait to knit for that newest little person. I've knitted for all of her grandbabies. In fact, tomorrow I will package up the last of silly knitted monkeys for kiddo number four. The first three got their monkeys a couple years ago for Christmas. Hannah Beth has just turned 18 months and is much in love with big brother's monkey. When my lovely niece asked if I would knit another monkey to keep peace in her home, I was delighted to pick out yarn that would suit this sweet, amazing little person. I hope monkey number four gets loved and dragged around by his crazy silly legs for years to come. Maybe some day in the future there will be picture of sweet great nieces and nephew with silly monkeys. Maybe they will hear about who knitted them, and we will stay connected.

I knit for a connection to my right now. My people, the people I love the most in this world get hand-knit things. (Well, most of them do....remember that 'knit worthy' rule). Sweet guy has about a million pairs of hand-knit socks (ok, only 27 pairs). In fact nearly every person in my family, and a ton of people not related by blood or marriage have hand knit socks, or cowls, or hats. Those hand-knitted things, stitched with love, are my way to show those far away people (and the one snoring in the other room) that they are loved.

I delight in hearing that the cowl was perfect for slogging through the Wisconsin winter from the parking garage to the hospital. Or that the socks are the very best thing to put on tired toes at the end of a long day. And, even though I cringe when I see it, hand knit socks on a 'chilly' Florida day with flip flops under them still make me smile.

We pull out our sticks and hooks and string to connect our lives to the lives of people we love. We knit and crochet to make our love tangible. Hand-knit socks say 'I love you!' over and over again. And maybe when the distances are big and the lives are hectic that hand stitched gift of love reminds our person how loved they are, even when we seem a million miles away.

Keep connecting you to them. It matters, really, I promise.

In hooks and sticks and string,

xoxo-j


 

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