A sweater

On Christmas morning, I unwrapped a box, and it was some strange thing that I didn’t understand.  On the front of the box it said the cables captured audio and visual from "sources" and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how that would be relevant to my life really, and I smiled at Ken, and hoped that like with most odd tech things he’s given me  (like this blog) he would explain how I would love it, use it and need it,  and I would grow to wonder how I’d ever lived with any sort of happiness at all without capturing audio and visual from "sources."

A minute later, I remembered that I had told anyone who would listen that if they were looking for a wonderful present for me, they need look no farther than a large pile of VHS tapes upstairs. They’re the home movies from when the girls were little, and if someone could move them from VHS to – whatever makes sense these days… if they could just, like… capture those images and sounds and… all of a sudden I understood.  The cables weren’t the gift.  What Ken was going to do with them was, and I was a little bit overcome. He’s been working on it for the last few days, and on the night of my Mum’s family party I got a preview, and there they were.  My little babies, and I was captivated by them. Perhaps because they’re all so big and so independent now… I mean, my youngest will be a legal adult in a few weeks… all of a sudden all I wanted was for them to be little again.  As I watched those images with my big beautiful girls beside me, it was all I could do to keep myself from trying to pull a 22 year old woman onto my lap,  but I did, and later when I said to Joe that it was such a wonderful time when they were little and he just looked at me like I had lost my mind, I thought maybe I had. 

What the hell does this have to do with a sweater?  I don’t know.  I’m not sure, but I know that in those movies, lots of them, there are sweaters I knit. Amanda’s stomping through the leaves in the park, two years old in a purple cabled sweater  I made her. Fast forward a few video’s and there’s a tiny Megan unwrapping a blue sweater with bunnies on it on Christmas morning … fast forward again and there’s Sam, my last little baby, snuggled down in that same sweater.  Five year old Amanda talking into the camera, her (new) purple sweater tossed on the chesterfield behind her… A pudgy little Meg toddles beside Amanda as she rides her first bike.. a white and fuchsia sweater buttoned over her. Those sweaters suddenly like a bright neon sign to me, a mark on those girls  telling everyone who will ever see it "This child is loved, this child is loved, this child is loved." There was something, something about seeing them wearing those sweaters, that made me very glad that I knit Megan a sweater this year – and that there’s more on the way for her sisters. 

Owls, by Kate Davies, knit out of two skeins of eco-wool.  (I changed the gauge, and lengthened the sweater. I’ll put details on Rav.)

They might be big, and they might not always (hardly ever) be with me where I can keep them safe –

and I might have to work on some acceptance around that, as they head off to school and jobs and life and their own apartments and deciding where they will put coffee mugs in their own cupboards (while I still try to accept that they drink coffee at all.)  And I might still have to find a way to figure out how to stop wondering if they’re okay all the time when I can’t see them… and I know I can’t make them little again, and I guess I don’t really want to (but I do) but I can keep them warm, and make them sweaters, and have them out in the world with that mark on them.  They can pull those sweaters over their heads, and they can know who loves them…

And that look, and these sweaters will be in the movies we make now, and it will mean the same thing as it did when it was that little blue sweater with the bunnies on it.

Happy New Year everyone.  All our best to you as you ride into a new year.
I’ll catch you on the other side.

212 thoughts on “A sweater

  1. The daughter, the sweater and the pst are all so beautiful.l I have tears in my eyes!
    Thank you.
    Happy New Year!

  2. Happy New Year to you as well. Lovely sweater. Glad you have all those memories – it is so true that they grow up before you know it!

  3. there’s this little stripey shirt that my brother wore 23 years agao, when he was 2. it’s been passed down, and passed down, through all my littler brothers who came small enough to wear it. it’s shown up in myriad family photos, and just seeing that shirt makes everybody smile. this year, we found it in my mom’s goodwill bag, wrapped it up, and sent it to my oldest brother, who now dresses my nephew in it. family legends are beautiful, and clothes always play a part.
    ps- that sweater is in my queue too!

  4. You do good work: the sweaters, the writing, and more than anything else, the beautiful family you have made while nurturing your daughters.
    Thank you for putting it into words for all of us.
    Happy New Year to you and your stunning, strong family.

  5. What a wonderful post. Brought tears to my eyes. I have a special box for sweaters that my boys have outgrown, passed on to their cousins (who also have outgrown them) and now they await the next generation.

  6. That’s beautiful. Both Ken’s gift and your memories. The love you gave your daughters is wrapped around them, always. Thank you.
    And now I must burrow into the stash to find yarn for a baby hat and booties for my oldest niece’s first-born, just over a week old. He already got a hand knit blanket from me and quilts from the niece’s mother and sister. When I talked with the nephew-in-law (already the parent of a 13-year old from his first marriage) he said that no one in his family ever made gifts. They bought nice presents, but no one sat down and spent time making a gift. He was touched by how much love went into those gifts.
    He’s about to be more surprised. When his daughter returns from her Christmas visit with her mom, there’ll be a gift of a hand knit scarf, made from Angora yarn, because “she likes soft things.” I wanted her to know that she was loved and welcomed to the family.

  7. What a wonderful gift to get all those tapes transferred!
    I’m inspired now to see if my son-in-law could put our honeymoon slides on computer disk.
    Also remembering that we took a wedding check from my great-aunt to buy film to make those picture memories. Without her gift it couldn’t have happened. Ah, student poverty!

  8. Lovely sweater! wonderful gift from Ken and yes, you have a very loved family which probably acounts for the many people who like to read your stories.
    thanks for a great year of posts. Happy 2012.

  9. Oh, what a wonderful post. Got a little teary reading it.
    I know just what you mean, except mine are two loud boys in their mid 20’s who won’t let me put them in my lap ever again. Two grown boys who always seem to call their mother whenever anything good, bad, frightening or confounding ever happens to them. Because they will always be my boys, and I will always be their mother. We will always be mothers, no matter what.

  10. Lovely sweater, lovely daughter and lovely sentiment. I was already feeling a little nostalgic for my little girls who are out in the world with their own families now… beautifully said, the tears are streaming as I think of all the little sweaters I knit in the past and the ones since. I might need to have them peruse my rav queue for gift suggestions.
    Happiest of New Years for 2012. Happy Knitting!

  11. You made me cry with this one. For the sweaters knit by my mom for me and for my daughter, and all the photos I’ve been trying to collect of this “knit love” (because Nana is now gone). Even for the sweater requested by an old friend, who asked for a second sweater after the one knit 30 years ago was gone. And he GETS the love in the sweater, then and now. You captured all of what I’m feeling. Thank you. The happiest of a fresh new year to you and your family, Steph.

  12. Echoing the sentiments of others. Happy New Year not only to Steph, her family but also to “THE BLOG” whose members are part of my “village”. May we all knit into the new year with as much love, grace and compassion for each other as we have in the past.

  13. You have made me cry on a day I was trying so hard not to cry! My first son is moving out of the house for good today. He went away to college, came home afterwards and is now moving to a home with two friends. It is good for him, he is ready and I have no reason to be sad, but I am. I will always want all four of them close enough to keep them safe, but have to trust they will feel our love long distance.

  14. Happy New Year, Ms. Harlot, and thank you for another 12 months of riotous entertainment!

  15. Wow! That is amazing. Beautiful gift, daughter and sweater. It makes me sad that I didn’t start knitting years ago. What a lovely post. Happy New Year.

  16. As the mom of 17 year old twin boys, on the verge of college and all the wonderful things that are coming their way — you made me weep.

  17. What a lovely and thoughtful present, and what a lovely and thoughtful post. My own sons are 27 and 22, and I still want to wrap up the older one — who is having a very difficult time right now — and cuddle him on my shoulder and sing him to sleep.
    Happy New Year!

  18. Truly lovely post, Steph. Most of us are saying good bye and good riddance to 2011 (floods, hurricanes, and such), it is sweet to welcome in 2012 with you as our guide. Happy New Year!

  19. Both the sweater and Meg are absolutely beautiful! Love the ecowool too. I just recently finished my first sweater out of it.

  20. Well now you’re making me cry! I’ve been slacking on knitting for my daughter, and I will pick up her half knit sweater just as soon as we’re home from the holidays. This is a lovely posting.

  21. Awww….you done good. With the sweaters, sure, but especially with your daughters. They’re wonderful, you know.

  22. What a lovely gift! I think Ken’s a keeper.
    I don’t want to relive my children’s childhood, but I would like to have them back as little people for an hour or two. I was too tired for too long to actually remember much from that 15 year period.

  23. Totally made me cry (although I am pregnant and hormonal). I really hope to make beautiful sweaters that follow my little one through the years. Happy New Year!

  24. Wow, Stephanie. How I wish my mother felt even a fraction of the same way about her daughters. Your children are very fortunate in their mother (and their father too, I’m sure!!!).
    So are you. Someday, they will realize what a jewel they have as a mother.
    Happy new year to you and your entire family. I feel privileged to share in your life in any small measure. Thank you for your wonderful writing, and for sharing your life and your lovely family with us.

  25. Steph,
    Like the rest of the ladies (and gentlemen) that read your blog, you have a magic with your words and your wool that are unmatched by the rest of us mere mortals. I hope you know that I hunger for the day that I too have photographs of babies that I have knit for and a husband who is wrapped in my warmth and love. Thank you for guiding me through a difficult year and paving a path of beauty for the new one.

  26. happy tears shed this morning as i read this entry. i, too, cannot believe how fast they grow up and change. sometimes i do wish they were all home again riding cardboard boxes down the basement steps. 🙂 but i enjoy them now immensely. happy you got to see your photos in a new media form and could see all those little sweaters and little girls again.

  27. They will always be “your babies” regardless of how old they get. I pulled my 19-y.o. son onto my lap on Christmas morning & my sister did the same with her 14-y.o. son. Both boys rolled their eyes, but we didn’t care.
    And there is a sweater that my mother made for my brother way back when, and it’s now gone to his two boys.
    What a wonderful gift Ken has given your family! Happy New Year to all of you.

  28. All the sodding best ( as my friend sue likes to say) for another splendid year. What wonderful memories – all wrappedd up in love and wool. That sweater looks perfect on your beautiful daughter too.

  29. I so agree with you that wearing Mom’s sweater reminds a daughter of the love that went into it. My mom was a fantastic knitter, and I always appreciated what she knit for me. She started knitting sweaters for me when I was little and continued all the way through my adulthood. At one point in my 30’s, I had 60 hand-knit sweaters to choose from. For Christmas that year, I put every one of those sweaters on and had a picture taken of me wearing it. I put these into an album for her. She’s gone now, but I still think of her whenever I wear one of her creations.

  30. I rarely comment, but I had to today. You’ve made me cry. My baby, who is 5, obviously needs a sweater. His little friend Nora, who died last week, wore a sweater that her mother swore and slaved over. She knew she was loved. And still is.

  31. Lovely, lovely post, and beautiful sweater (not to mentionn the beautiful girl…). Loved ones who have a knitter in the clan may not realize that all we are really trying to do is wrap them up, keep them warm, and surround them with our love. But we know. Stealth protectiveness, fuzzy style. May they all be safe and warm, those loved ones of yours. Any may you, too, have someone wrapping you in their love. Happy New Year.

  32. You made the poor pregnant lady cry! Now I’m sad I didn’t knit my daughter a sweater for Christmas, although I did knit one for Baby Boy to wear when he gets here in a month.

  33. Thanks for today, and everyday. My little girls are now 40 and 37, and as much as I enjoyed them as tiny ones, I swear I enjoy them more now. And it is probably good for my character for me to act as though I am not at all worried about them! Once the grandchildren start coming you have someone new to knit for, and fret over. P.S. The owl sweater is fabulous!

  34. Thank you (once again) for sharing.
    My Mom is in an extended care facility far from my home. I can’t visit as often as I want to, and I can’t stop the dementia from taking her from us, but I can knit a hug and a kiss into every stitch. Blankets, shawls, hat and scarf – a declaration to the world that she’s wrapped in love. Even if she can’t tell me, I have to believe that she can feel it. Today’s post was a lovely affirmation that the declaration of knitted love has no age limits.

  35. Thanks for another amazing year of blog posts!
    I really appreciate all of the work that goes into creating these posts, as well as your fundraising for MSF or the AIDS ride to Montreal.
    All of the best for 2012!

  36. You made me cry lots. 🙂 And, now I’ll get the gumption to finish my 3 year old’s train sweater. And take video!!

  37. Lovely daughter and lovely sweater. I know what you mean. My boys are both grown now (one of them with a boy of his own and living 600 miles away from me). The other is actually out of the country at the moment, and when he isn’t he also lives 600 miles away in the opposite direction from his brother. I spend a lot of time wondering if they’re okay and wishing I could have them back as little boys again. I don’t knit as well as you and maybe they wouldn’t want to wear my sweaters, but just maybe I need to knit them both one anyway. Thanks for all the posts this past year and may next year be full of peace, joy, and prosperity for you and your family. p.s. – I’m reading your latest book which I got for Christmas and loving it!

  38. Ya know, I LOVE that owl sweater, but not on me. How hard would it be to find a beautiful young woman (like your daughter) who will wear an owl sweater I make and follow me around, so I can admire my handiwork?

  39. I agree there are not enough days to keep them little. As the grow we grow away with time but not love. I am not the knitter you are and may never be able to put a sweater on my child (not that he would wear it)however I can give him love and my understanding. Maybe he can love and understand me wanting to keep him close

  40. With a husband who is an early adaptor, we faced the problem of our only child’s practically every waking moment captured on Beta tapes. Fortunately, a roadside garbage find of a Beta player solved the problem and all the tapes have been safely transferred to CD’s.
    That is very reassuring to me. Our daughter probably won’t look at them until she has her own children.
    I didn’t knit them, but she does sport clothing that I made for her, particularly in the early years, and her beloved quilt, Mr Lion, shows up often.

  41. Aww, you made me verklempt (and gave me an idea about buttons for petunia’s owl sweater)!
    Happy new year Steph! Thank you for being an inspiration to us.

  42. What a wonderful Christmas gift from Ken, and what a wonderful post, especially for those of us whose children are now grownups with children of their own. Ah, the memories!
    Meg is beautiful, and in that last picture, she looks like a model straight out of a knitting magazine. Thanks for another year of great posts, and Happy New Year to you and your family!

  43. I am not a mom, but I am totally teary-eyed. This winter I am snuggling up underneath blankets that my maternal grandmother crocheted twenty years ago, while my paternal grandmother snuggles up under a lap blanket that I made her last year. 2011 was a hard year, but we are loved and that’s all I can ask for.

  44. I, too, have tears in my eyes. This year I learned to knit and had my third child, my first daughter. My boys have had many hand knits from my mom and I’m excited that I’ll be able to add to pile. Yes, hand knits really do say “you are loved, you are loved, you are loved.” Beautiful. Thank you.

  45. You are a fascinating, interesting women whose words I enjoy reading. And by all the comments you receive so do many others. You bring humour and joy into people’s daily journeys and no doubt have done even more with your family. You make me proud that you are a canadian making a difference. Happy and a healthy new year to you and your family.

  46. What a wonderful gift! Your bestie gave you something that is so precious, the childhoods of your babies. (Which when they are in their 40’s are still going to be your babies.)
    This is a good thing… And have a safe and (reasonably) sane 2012.

  47. This one made me cry. I have a box of small sweaters, hoping for another generation to wear them. I still knit them new, big ones, as well as socks, hats, and mittens, to wrap them in love. It’s really hard not to be able to hug them in person.

  48. This one made me cry. I have a box of small sweaters, hoping for another generation to wear them. I still knit my girls new, big ones, as well as socks, hats, and mittens, to wrap them in love. It’s really hard not to be able to hug them in person.

  49. That just sounds like the best gift ever – the gift of memories. Your daughter and her sweater are both so beautiful! You are truly well-blessed with family, friends, and talent. The best of New Years to you and yours.

  50. Beautiful story! Beautiful sweater! Beautiful girls! Thank you for sharing all of the beauty that is your family!
    Happy New Year!

  51. That just sounds like the best gift ever – the gift of memories. You are truly well-blessed with family, friends, and talent. The best of New Years to you and yours.

  52. Happy New Year Steph. This post made me tear up. A true example of what a talented writer/mother/wife/knitter you are. Thank you for sharing pieces of your life with the universe. Wishing you all the best in 2012.

  53. Thank you! This was beautiful, and made me tear up. My 4 year old daughter loves the knits I make her, and I hope someday she knows how much love went into each stitch.

  54. Oh Stephanie, my tech husband has done something very similar with dvd videos of our girls. He calls things like this “painted rocks”. He makes sure to give a painted rock to everyone he loves every year. Makes us cry every time! Enjoy your sweater montage. Happy New Year from Oregon!!

  55. Awww. That is such a loving and sweet post of your memories of the little girls. How wonderful of Ken to get you set up with those photos/movies for the rest of your life. Precious.

  56. What a beautiful post, sweater and daughter, who must be at least ten times as brilliant as she is lovely. The “lovely” part is just a bonus … but you know that, don’t you?
    No matter how much and how deeply we wish we could snatch back time, to reel it back in like a fishing line … friends and family die, we get older, and little ones do not stay little. During the years I have read your blog, your kids have turned into fully formed adults, shaped by you and Joe. But you can still keep them warm, both inside and out.
    Happy New Year, dear Stephanie. Thank you, thank you most sincerely, for all your hard work … for all the unpaid blogging before you were “discovered” as a writer … for the long hours of writing … for the endless hours on planes and in airports and nameless hotels … for enduring annoying people who thought you were not “working” because your fingers were not moving while you thought about writing … for everything you’ve painfully deleted to offer us something more polished … for the wonderful and well-honed essays lost forever because the computer ate them … for the wonderful books that resulted from all this … for the effort you put into garment designs and sock summits and everything else … for the funds you have raised for DWB/MSF … you, along with Elizabeth Zimmerman, shine as the very best the knitting world has to offer in the way of giving life and breath and poetry — not just instructions — to our craft. Yes, I’m putting you up there on Mount Olympus. You deserve it.
    Thank you for everything you do. But ultimately, it’s really about what you said in this post. We knit to surround those we love with a tangible expression of that love, to send them out into the world clad in the armor of love. A piece of love they can take with them wherever they go, on whatever adventures life has to offer. A piece of knitted love (and a towel, of course — can’t go anywhere in the Universe without that), is really all they need to face the wonders that lie ahead:
    “O King and Queen of Cantelon,
    How many miles to Babylon?
    Three-score and ten.
    Can I get there by candlelight?
    Yes, and back again,
    If your horse be good and your spurs be bright,
    You shall be there by candle-light.”
    May your new year be filled with good and wondrous adventures.

  57. How lovely! My granddaughter (just 3) is currently wearing a sweater (and occasionally the matching skating skirt) that I knit for her aunt 30-some years ago. We didn’t do home movies, but you’ve inspired me to plow through photo albums to see what images we have (besides my mental ones) of other sweaters through the years.

  58. My baby just turned 16. I’m feeling the same way right now. I hope you and your family have a lovely New Year and I can’t wait to see what comes from your brilliant brain (and hands) in the year to come.

  59. Oh, man. I am already an emotional heap of mixed feelings, and this post pushed me right off the edge. Our first of three children and older of two daughters just got married one month ago. This whole Christmas has been a whirlwind of emotion.
    It is amazing how deep those feelings are when you look at your children all growing up and moving out of your home. We miss our “baby” very much. Photos help and hurt, ya know?
    LOVE the owl sweater. Thanks for your posts—some days I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t get some comfort from your posts. You are like the worst enabler to most of us readers!
    🙂 🙂 🙂

  60. I read this post while holding my sleeping preemie-sized 10-day-old in my arms. One whole drawer of her little bureau is full of little sweaters knit for her by me and my knitting friends, and a sweater I wore as a baby that was crocheted by my grandmother. I look forward to the days when she is big enough to wear them, but also know that the closer I get to those days the further I get from the days of the itty-bitty baby in my arms.

  61. The picture you paint of your children in their childhood sweaters gave me goosebumps. Also reminded me that my videos of my children need to be converted. I’d have to say that those cables have to be one of the best christmas presents EVER!

  62. Finally someone expressed perfectly why I knit for my daughters and those I love. Thank you for sharing your wit and wisdom with all of us all through the year. Happy New Year!

  63. What a sweet post and wonderful sweater! I just knit an owl hat and now that I know there’s a matching sweater, I’ll have to check out the pattern.
    Happy new year to you and yours!

  64. You made me weepy. I’ve got one in college and one bringing a boy home, and I badly want to have a 3 and 6 year old again.
    The sweater is lovely, btw.

  65. Well now you’ve made me cry!! I have two daughters of my own, you know, applying for jobs, applying for college far away (sniffle, sniffle). But I guess I now know what I have to do in 2012 — sweaters for both of them!

  66. My husband has just transferred all our old tapes. What a fabulous trip down memory lane! Love the owl sweater, just knit one for my my newborn granddaughter.
    Wishing you and yours health, happiness and wonderful new adventures in 2012.

  67. Lovely sweater – that one’s been in my mental queue forever. Megan looks great in it, as she does in anything she wears, it seems! I’ve been reading your blog for ages now & I can’t believe that your girls aren’t still little girls. It’s amazing how quickly time goes by. You should be proud. You’ve turned out a fantastic bunch of women & if that isn’t the best testament to being a great mother, I don’t know what is. Happy New Year, Steph. Thanks for having shared the last one with us all.

  68. What a lovely post! 🙂
    I also particularly love the way you only put button eyes on one owl. I’ve been eyeing that pattern for a while and putting eyes on every owl always seemed a bit excessive.
    Happy New Year!

  69. makes me think about the day I unpacked the tiny sweater I knit for my oldest son, washed it, packed it with love and sent it off to my brand new – first! – granddaughter. I’m in Vermont and she was in Seattle, but I could wrap her in generational love across all those miles. thanks, Stephanie. happy new year.

  70. I tell my children that handknits from their mama are like hugs. anytime they need a little bit of me, they can wear something I made. Of course, mine are still little. Love the sweater and the sentiment. Happy New Year!

  71. Aw, Steph. My own little girl isn’t a little girl any more, either, and your beautiful post has made me cry. I’m so proud of her adult self, but oh how I miss the curly headed little imp who laughed and danced her way into our hearts.
    Thanks for inspiring the memories, and best wishes for 2012 for you and yours.

  72. Thank you! You write such great posts, but this one hit closest to home.
    The love of my life, and father of my children, died of cancer last may and the Holidays have been hard on all of us. What keeps us going is the memories, they are so precious!!!
    I wish you and your loved ones a very happy 2012, health, love and a lot of beautiful yarn.
    I wish all of us health, love, a lot of beautiful yarn and many more of your beautiful posts…

  73. Those sweaters with pictures are your track record in time and space. They say “you were here and you did this at this time”.
    That is an example of why hand knitting, crochet, weaving, wood carving…etal…are so important to us and to our time. They say “Stephanie Pearl McPhee existed and here is what she did”.
    Our children, hand knits are a record in time and space that have eternal significance for the rest of our society and our world. Keep knitting my dear. We and the rest of the world need what we do.

    The history of our kids from first Christmas until their 21st is shown by the embroidered foot print each year on our Christmas “skirt.” And I have loved the journey!

  75. What a wonderful gift to get and a wonderful post (even if it made me teary). I’m in the midst of those early years (with the two year old and the new one on the way), and watching my parents and in laws negotiate having adult children. There’s a lot of emotion in both phases — I love that you channeled some of it into the sweaters. It’s such an unconditional, supportive, MOTHER thing to do. They are lucky kids.

  76. Not a dry eye here! Thanks for putting words to such love. It makes me realize how brave I am to have a daughter 4,000 miles away. And how lucky I am that she contacts me so often. I’m filling her little one’s life with sweaters, as fast as I can knit! Happy New Year to you!

  77. When our two daughters left home, i thought about how i had raised them to be independent from birth. BUT, I didnt’t actually mean that!!!!

  78. My girls are roughly the same age as yours and this made my eyes fill with tears. One is living in another state and doesn’t like hand-knit socks, but that owl sweater is right up her alley. The other is a bona fide knitter and made me a cowl for Christmas. Now if I only had a Ken…
    Happy New Year to you and those you hold dear.

  79. That is one beautiful sweater. Just beautiful. From one who makes things, it is wonderful when it is appreciated. Thank you for sharing.

  80. That was beautiful, the sweater is beautiful, Megan is beautiful….and I have a lump in my throat. You summed up so nicely what it means to be the mother of adult children. Thank you.

  81. You put into words what I have been feeling- about motherhood and how you keep the love coming even when they are adults doing their own thing. You have such a gift for words. Thank you. Also,I loved the sweater with the owls. It fit perfectly and Megan looks like a million bucks in it. Happy New Year. I so look forward to your blog each day.

  82. One more teary-eyed reader, searching for a tissue. I don’t have children, but I do have a niece and nephews and their children to love. Sometimes I wonder how it would have been to be a mother. When I read your blog and your books and talk to my wonderful niece, I get a sense that maybe I could have done it after all.
    Thank you for all you have given all of us! Happy New Year and three bows to you and your family.

  83. Beautiful post.
    There’s an old expression that a home made quilt is made with ‘love in every stitch.’ That surely applies to knitted clothes too.
    Kids grow up too fast but just think, maybe some day you will get to knit for grandchildren.

  84. Happy New Year to you, Stephanie McPhee! Thanks for the post…it reminded me that I need to go squeeze my own three little girls (ages 8, 5, and 2) and try to remember how excellent they are right now. A thousand thanks for that from a tired, but appreciative mama. All my best to you in the new year!

  85. Wow, all these people all around the world crying over this post – me too – words are “our most inexhaustible source of magic”.
    My baby is from home visiting his girlfriend and he will become a legal adult next week. My oldest is moving in with two friends in a nearby town, also next week. Lots of changes, lots of adjustments, lots of acceptance.

  86. Wow. I only wish I had had a mother who cared about me, or any of us, like that. Sad to say it, but it’s true. I’m old enough–as are my siblings–to know that the only children any of us will have are those that have been born to the youngest by far of any of us, the grandchildren none of us (by an unspoken, unconscious pact) could literally not bear to bring to our family.
    Stephanie, you have given your daughters such love. What a wonderful thing. 🙂

  87. Thank you for stirring up those burried emotions.
    Sometimes we forget what a part we played in raising proud young people, that will someday, do the same to enrich the world with love.

  88. I just wanted to thank you for all the wonderful posts this year that helped me get through it. Thanks especially for the memorable visit to Portland
    and you patiently letting me take a pix of your
    sweater. You’re the Queen! Happy Happy New Year to you and your family. You are one loved girl.

  89. Awww….this brought tears to my eyes. My son is just over a year old, and it’s already hard knowing he’ll leave us one day.
    Gorgeous sweater, and what a wonderful gift from Ken. Happy 2012 to you and your family!

  90. Thank you for reminding me how much my Mom loved me with all the beautiful sweaters she made me over the years and then later for her grandchildren. I so very proudly wore the green reindeer sweater she knit for me in 1979 to school before Christmas! One of my students was in shock that my mom had made it for me. I think I’ll knit this special little girl a pair of mittens so she knows the same feeling that someone thinks she is pretty special:D

  91. Golly! Sometimes you have the nicest way of bringing tears to roll down my face. Your children are so lucky to have you for a mom. They are loved and when they are old those sweaters will hold magic memories for them.

  92. You always write your blog so that each person reading it feels as though you were talking just to them, part of an ongoing conversation about life and about knitting. It has turned into one of the best moments of my day. And I have many wonderful moments each and every day.
    Thank you for putting into words what is often in my heart. Especially when it comes to family.
    I wish you a happy and healthy New Year!

  93. I needed a good cry! Give Ken a great big smooch for making one of the most remarkable gifts I’ve ever heard given. You have one absolutely incredible friend! Happy New Year to you and yours.

  94. Weeping as I’m knitting for my 7 y/0 and 3 y/o daughters right now! I may make them owl sweaters 🙂

  95. I love your post not only for your words and the memories you seem to make us all actually see through your eyes but because this year at Christmas we did the exact same thing! I understand what you are saying because we (my husband and I) are watching our now legal adult child make an entrance into the world and grow up! The videos to DVD are spectacular because it is like they have been tucked away in a vault waiting for us to catch up to technology. Enjoy your time with your babies again. We will always have them (our babies) because of technology!

  96. Your daughter and her sweater are both beautiful. I understand what you mean about the old movies, videos etc. It was a very touching thing to share.

  97. Beautiful. Your words always touch my heart. Thank you for sharing your life and wit with us. Many blessings and lovely knits in the new year.

  98. We just had my son’s 18th birthday party yesterday. What a mix of feelings I have! Your post was beautiful. We love them, care for them, and then it’s time to send them out into the world. It’s so hard to let go. Looking back at photos and videos is bittersweet.

  99. Hi, Steph…. when our daughter was pregnant with her first child, our first grandchild, an ultra-sound showed a “possible problem.” Every day I knit that baby’s lace blanket, and every row was full of love and prayers, from me, an atheist agnostic type. But the prayers said: “This child is loved. Bless this child/” He was born with no problems, and still has his blanket, and it still says: “This child is loved.”
    Thank you for this post.

  100. Trust you to put the words to my feelings. My two older girls resisted knitting when they were young, but have both picked it up in their independence. I hope the message of being loved came through, and passes on in their knitting. My eldest will make me a grandmother in June, and I bet she will be making darling things. I KNOW I will. Just so you know, you are loved. You are loved. You are loved.

  101. happy new year to one and all. may your needles never be empty and your stach be never-empty.

  102. The comments for this posting are as heartfelt and loving as the post itself. Thank you for providing the safe haven where we can share these precious knitting memories with like minded souls.
    As soon as they were old enough to choose, my two boys (now 43 and 37) did not want any more hand knit sweaters, but they did request hats, mittens, soft toys, etc. Even better, as they grew older they started asking me to knit things for their friends and then for their friends’ children. There are many, many Freddie Bears and Christmas stockings out there from “Auntie Faith.”
    My oldest is temporarily living with me, and it warms my heart to see him wrap himself in the scrap yarn afghan I crocheted for him when he first went off to college in 1986. The younger son has just provided the first grand baby, and she will be wrapped in the lace edged Christening blanket I knitted for him and dressed in the gown made by Great-great Grandma in 1941. This baby will know that she is loved, She IS loved!

  103. damn it. I read this aloud to my manfriend and ended up sobbing. Yeah. So. My youngest is 22 too… damn it. Anyway, thanks (for real) and Happy New Year. Hope your year is full of wonderful things and Rhinebeck sweaters that are finished in time to actually wear to Rhinebeck (without miscrossed cables and stuff… although I would NEVER have told you, but instead insisted that it was the MOST beautiful sweater I had ever seen, but hey, that’s just me… anywhooooo… Thanks so much for another year filled with laughter and lumps in the throat. You are an incredible writer with an amazing voice, a great woman and an exceptional human being. Thank you for sharing yourself every week. Srsly. You are amazing.

  104. Thank you for a lovely post, Stephanie. And thank you too for all the pleasure reading your blog has given me over the past year.
    Happy New Year to you and your family.

  105. You have made me cry!!
    My boys are 33 and 31 now and I’m a grandmother- still knitting little sweaters which are still appearing in photos.
    So it goes on.
    Happy New Year!!

  106. Ok, like the vast majority of other commenters, you made me get all teary. I have a VHS of my son when he was 2 1/2 years old. It was our first Christmas at home so we shot the video for all the grandparents. It cost a fortune at the time because we had to rent to camera, but I’m glad we did it. It’s hard to believe he was ever that small.
    I’ve always made things for him and he’s always loved getting handmade gifts.It started with the suit I made him to wear to my brother’s wedding when he was 3. When I started knitting I made him a Pirate Bag for his MP3 player. I’ve made him hats and scarves, a crocheted cotton blanket, and all sorts of assorted things, but his favorite thing that I have ever made him is his Color Quilt. It’s the first quilt that I ever made and it looked it. It is all bright primary colors and he’s used it ever night ever since it was given to him. It’s really sad and rather ratty looking now. It’s almost used up. I’ve offered to replace it on more than one occasion with a new one but he won’t have it. He said that he loves sleeping under that quilt because I made it for him so sleeping under it is like sleeping wrapped in a blanket of love. This is why I love making things for him. How cool is that. Happy New Years to you and yours. I hope it’s a wonderful one. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
    PS: This year for Christmas he went to a local pottery and jewelry place and made me and his grandmother silver pendants for gifts. I think the fact that he thought to make me something from his heart was the best present that I could have gotten. Long live craftiness!

  107. A happy 2012 and may all your good hopes and wishes come true manyfold. One of the things here in the Netherlands, at least in my part of it I still keep fervently true to is: never take old food with you into the new year. By old food I mean dishes you served at dinnertime and were not fully eaten. You use up all of those on 31 dec., so you can start the new year with fresh food, you will have enough food all year (and not have to fill your hungry body with leftovers). Of course this does not apply to specially cooked food for these two days, like oliebollen (kind of deepfried flour and currants round dumplings)and other special end of year treats, it applies to just potatoes and vegetables. There are places over here, where the housewife carefully guestimates the amount of alcoholic beverages that will be consumed before midnight, because you have to finish the bottle before twelve o clock, so you can start the new year with a full one, to be assured you will have full bottles all year. She will pour out what would not be consumed before midnight for “cooking uses” before she enters the bottle into the room. Women can be so clever! In the pictures of my sons I can see so many things I made them, my tall and oh so slim boys, always two sizes up in length from circumference, had to make clothes myself (or buy extremely corly Italian designerware) to not let them look frumpy. Your daughters have indeed have clothes with love knitted into every stitch, like my sons had love knitted and sewed into each and every trouser, jumper and shirt. Sometimes they uotgrew their trousers within 6 weeks and I had sewn both of them three pairs!

  108. That is such a wonderful post! I am a mom myself and really touched by your words.
    I wish a happy new year to your and your family!

  109. I got the same gift! I stack of DVDs that were made from video tapes we’ve taken over the years. It was great to see my boys as babies but better still to get to spend Christmas morning seeing my Dad who passed away three years ago.
    Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year.

  110. Well, I think there are a lot of us are in tears at your post. Beautiful words, Steph–may you and yours find all the joy and peace that 2012 has to offer!

  111. Such a wonderful post. It’s a wonderful sweater and I really love the single owl with watchful eyes.

  112. I don’t knit as prolifically or quickly as you do, and with a one year old hanging from my arms I hardly ever finish anything these days. I do a bit better with sewing, but its still slowed down alot. But, I’m suddenly so glad there was a sweater under the tree for my girl this year and a dress at my sewing machine.

  113. As the mother of 2 daughters in their early/mid 20’s, I understand completely. You do what you can and hope that everything you said and did as they grew sunk in. Happy New Year to you and your whole family.

  114. It is early morning on New Year’s Day and I just happened upon your post. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing. I pray your daughters feel the love!

  115. I hardly ever comment, but I have to tell you this nearly made me cry. My kids are 4 and 2 right now and I have knit so many sweaters for them and this post just puts it perfectly.

  116. My grandmother knit my kids vest when they were little. And the vests had owls on them, very similar to your sweater. She did everything out of love, even if we didn’t always know it at the time.

  117. I sent my two daughters (20 and 17) off to celebrate their New Year’s Eve plans only after, at my insistence, they each wore something I had knit them. Wanted that knitting love and magic to help protect them from all manner of crazy things last night. It made me feel better, and it worked!

  118. What a beautiful tribute!! I often wish my two girls could be little for just a day so I could spend the time just enjoying them–at an age when I was the center of their world. I miss that, but now, they have their own lives and children; that’s a good thing, but I miss the little ones. A lot.

  119. I am so with you on this one! My one hopeful thought to deal with the sometimes unbearable sadness that comes with your kids growing up and away, is the possibility and YES actual arrival of a grandchild! More love, more babies and MORE KNITTING! To this I can confirm. Happy New Year Stephanie.

  120. What a beautiful post, beautiful sweater, and beautiful daughter! I used my birthday check from the in-laws to buy a photo scanner for much the same reason. It should be here on Tuesday. I have a closet full of photos, and my parents have twice as many that I’d like to save for the same reasons!

  121. Megan looks beautiful in that sweater. I love that design and would like to make one for myself.

  122. And every time your girls wear sweaters that you’ve knit for them it’s like you are right there hugging them. Kind of like a permanent hug.
    Knitting Magic. :o)
    Happy New Year Stephanie !

  123. Thank you for being a writer. I love to start my days with your words in my head. Happy New Year!

  124. What a wonderful gift. And what will be even more fun will be your future grandchildren. We spent the holidays caring for one or two of the granddaughters (15 months and 4 1/2)…the third was born Dec. 23, a few weeks early, and is still in the hospital. But she does have a few quickly knitted Christmas hats!
    Best wishes for 2012!

  125. my mother made me a bright yellow sweatpants/sweatshirt combo once.
    I’m sure she loved me. Just a weird way of showing it to a 14 year old girl.
    (and yes I did look like a banana.)

  126. Oh my gosh,Stephanie, what a touching post.
    Thank you for all the beautiful, touching and inspiring words over the years.
    Happy New Year!

  127. I was reading your blog on my iPad last week and while scrolling, touched an older post entry. It was so cool to look back at pictures of your girls when they were young. I wish I had read your blog from the very start, I think I may have to now 🙂
    Good job raising those kids. I hope I do as well with my own.

  128. Just bawling my eyes out — at your words, at the truth of them, and at the look in that beautiful young woman’s eyes. Thank you, dear yarn harlot, for sharing your world with me.

  129. Got tears in my eyes reading your post. And, now while my 20 month old naps I’m casting on for a sweater for him.

  130. Whew. As mama to a ten-month-old, who is currently pudgy and adorable, this really got me. I should go make him a sweater…

  131. 1) Ken is a Very Good friend. but you knew that. 2) You are a Very Insightful, Thoughtful woman. You also have a wonderful way of translating your feelings into words that make it fun for the rest of us to enjoy.
    3) Let’s hope this coming year brings everyone as much love as there is in a handknit sweater.

  132. Oh man, now I’m all weepy (in a good, sentimental way). Lovely post. Happy New Year. 🙂

  133. You always say the most heartfelt things about your daughters & being a mother of daughters I truly appreciate your words. Your next book should be about daughters – knitting through raising girls – or something like that! Thanks for the sweet words.

  134. Thanks so much for all you share. The sweater and your daughter are beautiful. Happy New Year to all of you.

  135. Love the sweater! I am currently knitting a baby sweater with owls around the yoke and my adult son said he wanted an owl sweater! Now I know where to start!

  136. Like many others, I got teary reading this. Love the sweater. Reminds me of a little vest I made for my son when he was a toddler with very similar owls on it. He’s now 28, and there are days I still wish he was that little towheaded toddler. I don’t know where the time went. Just yesterday I was looking at my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter and wondering when she got to be so big. I wish there was some way we could turn back time for just a few minutes occasionally to hold those little toddlers/babies in our arms again. My mother told me again today that she still worries about us no matter how old we are. She had to check in with me later today because I’d told my father earlier that I was having major computer problems (which thankfully I worked through).
    Thanks for giving me lots of laughs in the past year as I read through your whole blog archive. I really needed them sometimes to help put things in my life in perspective. Wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy New Year!

  137. Sunday night…
    just read your Twitter entries and saw pictures
    it would seem that not only do you knit the most amazing things
    you can COOK too!!!
    wow mmmmmmmm

  138. Hey Stephanie….HAPPY “2012” to you & those you hold dear!! I have SOoooo enjoyed your blog (that I luckily got into this past year) as well as your books…you have SUCH a talent!!! I made our three grown sons each a pair of socks for this Christmas because I want them to ‘feel’ my luv. I have only one rule for myself…I put down the needles IF ever I’m feeling anxious/upset…’cause
    I only want L-O-V-E to go into each stitch!!…(:

  139. Ok…I’m officially knitting obsessed. I wasn’t until about 3 lines into the second paragraph that I realized the cables were electronic things and not the knitting design. Duh. What a wonderful gift to give you.

  140. Reading all the comments has restored my faith in humanity, and in the goodness and love out there. Thank you so much for another year of beautiful posts. Wishing you a New Year full of health, happiness and continued great knitting/blogging!

  141. One of my most precious pictures is one I took of my niece stomping in leaves at the park in a purple, cabled sweater that I made for her. Apparently, this is universal. : )

  142. My kids have flown from the nest as well. It’s bittersweet, for sure. Gorgeous sweater!

  143. Add my tears in with all those who commented before me. I’m so glad you got such a wonderful gift and I want to thank you for the wonderful gift you give all of us with your writing. Happy New Year to you and your family!

  144. I don’t know if you’ll find this as amusing as I did… my brother was peering over my shoulder at the gorgeous sweater, and asked “Hey is that blog the ‘Sweater Slut’?” I choked on my coffee, and asked him “WHAT??”
    He replied that he knew that it was some kind of shameless acts for wool type things, and that the posts I’d pointed him to in the past were funny. Plus, he reasoned, someone got a pretty good sweater in those pictures…

  145. My daughter is now 11 going on about 16. she still likes to sit on my lap though…:) Where did the time go! i could swear she just started grade school like a year ago. i wish i had taken more videos of her when she was little!

  146. Sing it! My babies are 11 and 8, which means 2012 is the year they’ll be 12 and 9. They refuse to wear sweaters of any kind, but they know they’re loved and sometimes they’ll wear handknit hats at least.

  147. I want to scold you for making me cry, but I guess I just can’t.
    My boys are 20, 17 (18 in 9 days), and 15 (as of yesterday). I can’t protect them from their own lives and choices, but I can equip them with as much wit and wisdom as I can so they can deal with what they meet with each day. But, it is a mother’s lot to worry! I wish I had made sweaters. I guess it’s never too late to make sweaters for them.
    Happy New Year!

  148. Knitted love, what a wonderful thing.
    Your post brought tears to my eyes, what a fabulous present Ken got for you, and you made for Megan. She looks beautiful in her owls sweater, i have one of those and I love it to bits!
    Thanks for such a moving post, and a very happy new year 🙂

  149. Wow, I didn’t think I could cry from reading an article but you got me. My oldest daughter turned 5 in November and my youngest is 5 months old, reading your article is an urgent call to remember that every moment is precious bc they will soon be grown.
    And it’s a push to go on and try to make that first sweater, lol, here goes, I hope when I look at old videos I am proud of my sweaters lol

  150. Before you know it those beautiful girl babies will be having babies of their own. And you will look at those grandbabies & get a lump in your throat because they will smile a certain way, or cock their head a certain way or do something that looks so much like their mom or an aunt that you are taken back to those years when your girls were little.

  151. With tears in my eyes, I say thank you, Steph. Like I always comment, I love your writing. Beautiful, beautiful daughter in a beautiful sweater! I SO wish my daughter would love her knits like your daughters love theirs.

  152. Many years ago, I knit a sweater for my mother, which I soon didn’t see very often but by then I was living on my own and only saw my folks once a week or so…..many years later, but by now shockingly long ago (how the years go by!) my daughter came home from an afternoon with her grandparents wearing the same sweater. Which Mom had felted decades ago, but held onto all the same, because she loves me and is proud of the things I make.
    The felting thing is just how Mom rolls. Back in college, I had a nice collection of my father’s sweaters that she had accidentally shrunk down to my size. These days I make her superwash socks, or shawls she’ll never even attempt to wash. She does enjoy felting slippers down to size.

  153. My husband gave me DVDs which were transfers from VHS of our boys when they were tiny. They are still small, only 5 and 8 years old. But watching our babies again and hearing those tiny voices gets me in the very depths of my soul. I’ve only been knitting in earnest for about 1 1/2 years and haven’t done a full on sweater yet. My boys absolutely love hand knit socks! So a few years down the road I will watch home movies and know those cute little toes were lovingly warm!

  154. Darn you, you always have one or two posts a year that make me cry and this one occurred on my first day back to work after a wonderful 2 weeks with my “babies” home. My almost 3yo this morning voluntarily put on a hat I knit her months ago which she had refused to have anything to do with before today. I hope you had a wonderful time with all your girls home over the holidays!

  155. That is a beautiful story, and Megan looks amazing: adult and confident. They might not be babies anymore but if they can keep that take on the world attitude then they can do anything!

  156. Ok… that just made me all teary. As a new mom to a baby who just turned one a few days before christmas, I look forward to all the same as I wrap my little one in love and handmade goods.
    It also gives me new appreciation for all the clothing that my mom made for me (mostly sewing) and I hope that she feels the same as you do as she looks through all our old pictures.

  157. I just wanted to write and say I have been following you since the beginning of your blog, and it absolutely floors me that your girls are so grown. I should realize this, since my own kids have grown so much since those early days of reading you-but damn, they are young women. Smart, generous, adventurous, beautiful young women. What a proud mama you must be.

  158. What a beautiful post. Thank you, Stephanie. Knitting certainly is love made tangible, and it’s never too late to start. I’m the mother of five children, mostly grown now, and I’ve only been seriously knitting for the past eight years or so. So my babies never had knitted things from me (though they were certainly loved). One of the first things I knit for one of my children was a chemo hat for my middle son. It is buried with him now. I’ve made hats for two of my other children, and for my husband. I think it’s time to knit more for them! And I love how you do it throughout the year. That helps you to feel the love through the year, too.

  159. I loved this post. I hope that my children love what I make them, as much as I loved making it. They are 17 (18 in a few weeks) and 11 and are so grown up.

  160. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones, but this post had me sobbing. I only hope my children grow up appreciating the home made goods and knowing that each jumper surrounds them with love 🙂

  161. Happy new year to you and your family. This post made me cry, too. I also have three daughters beginning to make their own way in the world and was thinking today (as I put my 19 year old baby on a plane to Greece for 5 weeks) that life was easier when they were little. I always knew where they were and that they were safe. We live in New Mexico but my youngest goes to college in Minnesota so I’m constantly sending her knitted mittens, scarves, hats, etc. thinking that at least I can make sure she’s warm. I didn’t knit when my girls were small, but I sewed lots of clothes for them. I’m looking forward to grandchildren so I can wrap them in my handmade love like I did for their mothers.

  162. This post just made she-who-rarely-cries more than a little weepy. I have a two-year-old daughter who is already growing up too fast. (In fact, she’s almost three, but I’m already in denial). Happy New Year to you and yours – thanks for the reminder to cherish these moments – and to record them for posterity.

  163. What gorgeous pictures there… the sweater as well as your daughter…she is just radiating…
    And how…I don’t even know what is teh right word…I just finished an owl sweater I casted on just after the year turned…

  164. Wonderful, lovely post. My 22-year-old daughter told me last week that she “depends on the Momknits” for Christmas and told me tales of woe about a lost scarf and a lost hat, both of which she asked me to re-knit asap.
    Ken is a blessing.

  165. Beautiful post. Beautiful daughter. Thanks for sharing. You made me think of all the knits I make for my daughter in a new way. I like the idea of the knits wrapping her in love.

  166. Sometimes, when I look at your girls, I can see your face lurking behind their features. They are beautiful girls and reading your blog, I’ve gotten to share a little bit of their growing with you. Thank you for sharing that with all of us. I watch my three and some days I wish that they were at least a little older but then something happens and I know that when they are, I will cry for these days.

  167. Hi! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My weblog looks weird when viewing from my apple iphone. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to resolve this problem. If you have any recommendations, please share. Cheers!

  168. Oh, my, Yarn Harlot, I don’t even have children (lots of nieces and nephews I adore, though), and this posting made me weep at the beautiful bit of your life you shared. What a priceless gift your husband’s VHS-to-DVD transferral is. The best ones are truly not about money or shiny-shiny.
    My husband had a beautiful scarf fixed for me one Christmas that I had had for almost 20 years from the Netherlands, bought as a grad student when I was so poor and clothing was still so exquisite and expensive in Europe (before the Gap invaded). Our puppy had chewed it up when I had washed it to put away for the summer and its flitty, light, flowing around in the breeze was too much to resist, I guess.
    I had truly given it up for lost. I wept over that scarf when I found it full of holes and the dog happily dancing around–not just for the beautiful thing it was, but for all that it symbolized. When I opened the repaired Christmas gift a couple of years ago, I wept again, but in the good way. I can barely see where the repairs were made. He hunted down a local knitting group and asked them if they knew of anyone who could fix it.
    What a great husband you have and what wonderful markers all those sweaters and scarves and mittens make for the progression of your children’s lives. It’s quite a beautiful thing. Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. My husband is Canadian and so maybe those guys just understand the gift of the giving and the way to a woman’s heart is understanding what is really important to us. What lucky wives we are!

  169. I love this post. I was trying to explain to my longtime bf why I was crocheting a blanket with a heart and lovebirds (from crochet today) (he calls it tacky), and he didn’t understand the “it’s how I can show love and fun and whimsy AND keep us warm. how else can I?”. Maybe its a crafty thing, knowing what a handmade piece means.

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