Connection

I rolled into Vancouver yesterday – a day early for Knit City, because a few months ago my niece Savannah moved here with her Fiancé Kosti, and I miss her. (Them.) Sav’s a midwife, and so when I decided to tack an extra day on to this trip to be with her, I kinda knew I might not be with her. There’s always a chance she’ll be called to a birth, and I knew she was on call, but the odds were great – and the worst thing that can happen is I end up hanging out with Kosti for the day, and I like Kosti, so it was totally worth the shot.

Yesterday, when my plane landed, there was a text from Sav – saying that she’d been called to a birth. I sighed, took the train to her house, Kosti let me in, and I knit, chatted, answered emails and we went to lunch and it was lovely, and against all odds, Savannah walked in the door just before suppertime.  We sat, and had a lovely talk, and we thought about where we’d go to dinner, and Sav started bringing out the knitting projects, things that haven’t worked out quite right, and asking me about them.

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Now, this is part of our relationship, me and Sav. I “help” her with her knitting projects all the time – if by “help” you understand that Savannah will inquire about what could possibly be done to rescue a project in trouble, and I’ll start to tell her what needs doing, and then she’ll look at me and I’ll realize that she just wants me to fix it, and then I do, because I’m her auntie and I love her.  Yesterday she had an extra good one though. About a year ago, Sav dropped by my place and asked about gauge, and borrowed a needle, and I “helped” with another knitting project, and she was starting the Grace Cardigan. She had some great yarn, it was all wound and she was off to a good start.

Well, I guess something came off the rails at some point, and her mum Kelly was in town, and Kelly’s a very good knitter, and Sav got Kelly to “help” with the sweater, which means that Kelly took it home with her to Vietnam, and knit it. On her last trip back here, Savannah got the sweater, all done, with just one little glitch, which is that Kelly was too far away to exactly nail sleeve length, and they were a little long. “What can I do?” Sav asked, in exactly the way that means “What can you do?.”

What could I do indeed.  Well, it’s a top down cardi, so I unpicked the cast off on the sleeves, ripped it back, picked up the stitches, and re-knit the cuff. I got half of one done, and then it was time for dinner. The three of us (four- if you count the cardigan) headed out, and we were no sooner at the corner than Savannah’s phone rang, and she was gone. Kosti and I had a nice dinner, and came back to the apartment, and hung out and I worked on fixing the sweater, and then I went to bed. This morning – still no Savannah (birth can be slow) and Kosti was asleep and I got up, sorted myself out, and tried to finish fixing the sweater.

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In walked Sav, we had a quick chat, and then – having been up for more than 24 hours, she fell into bed.  I sat there, by myself again, and decided to sew the buttons on the sweater, and I was thinking a little bit.

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I was thinking that here my niece lives far away from me, and I don’t see her much, and then I’ve come to see her and the fates have decided that might not totally work out either, and I still feel good about it. I feel like I’m with Sav, doing something nice for her, contributing to her well being. When I leave here today to go do Knit City, Sav will have a sweater that fits, and is cozy, and as the fall advances and she’s chilly she’ll shrug it on, and that’s a connection between the two of us. I sewed those buttons on.

I was thinking about her mum Kelly too – Kelly’s really far away, and I don’t see much of her, and this – unpicking sleeves and re-doing them, sewing seams, finishing sweaters… Kelly and I have been doing this together for a long time too – it’s not the first time we’ve worked together to make a project happen, and that made me feel connected to Kelly too – Maybe it’s just jet lag, but even though I can’t be with Kelly and Sav, I felt like I was with them as I worked (and reworked) their stitches.   It was re-assuring – the more things change, the more things stay the same, and we may not be in the same city or country anymore… but we’re connected, as long as it keeps taking three women to make one sweater, like it always has.

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PS: Savannah, while you were sleeping, I fixed the edge of that blanket you knit. You’re welcome. See you next time.

 

112 thoughts on “Connection

  1. What a lovely visit. Knitting has connected me with so many people at various stages of my journey. I love that about this beautiful craft

  2. Knitting (or any handicrafts for that matter) is also a good way to connect with the generations before us, and all the work, effort and love that they put into their creations.

  3. I have been a part of knitting groups who pass a project around so that everyone has a turn at a few rows. The differences generally show, but how else can we find our part when we give it as a gift?

  4. Lucky Savannah. Her mom makes her sweaters (a woman already a legend from this blog for buying her yarn once a year) and then she has a special aunt who knows so many things. Nice family share. Glad everyone had a good time.

  5. At least you got a chance to catch up with Kosti, and Millie couldn’t attack your knitting! (But I think she’ll want that blanket.) (Savannah: Sleeve garters.)

  6. Very sweet… I too have a “helper” like you.
    My Mom. She once, tinked seven looooooooooog rows of lace because I’d dropped a stitch way back and there was not other way to salvage that. You know you’re special to a person when!

  7. I could not love this more! Something my Mom has always done for me, especially when it comes to SEWING projects, which I stink at and she totally ROCKS! One special way women connect with each other.

  8. How lovely. Reminds me of all the time I’ve fixed or mended something for a loved one – because I love them. Family is wonderful that way.

  9. Lovely! I really really really love that blanket. It reminds me of one that L L Bean sells and I would love to make it. Looks like all garter so easy peasy but I imagine it would take lots of yarn! It looks like it’s pretty big. Anyone know any of the details of that blankie?

  10. I just love this. Everything about it. Comfy, cozy family moments are possible in so many ways.

    I know this question has absolutely *nothing* to do with your post, but is there any chance any more of your books will go to audio? I listen to audios constantly when I knit, and really like both of your books that are available in that format. You’re a reader that’s very enjoyable to listen to!

    • I’m not sure if you are referring to the blanket or the sweater yarn, but if anyone knows the sweater yearn, i’d love to know that too. 🙂

        • I will check that out. I thought I had discovered it via a sock knitting group I am in, but although lovely yarn, it has less colors in the speckles.

    • Thanks for the laugh! I hadn’t thought of that, but if anyone could do it, it would be Stephanie! Maybe on her next visit she could come prepared with an almost finished baby knit so she could spend more time with Savannah.

  11. The blanket is great. I love what one can do with a bit of color. The sweater is pretty as well. You are such a good auntie. I am sure she loves having you visit, not just for your skills but your loving nature.

  12. What a lovely mind-picture you conjured up, of both you and Kelly knitting on the sweater as Sav is enveloped by it and your love… Knitting is such a loving, timeless way to embrace those we care for…

  13. “because I’m her auntie and I love her”
    It’s like you’ve read my mind, I feel the same about my niece. Coincidentally, you are physically closer to mine as she is at Waterloo, and I yours as I am in Nanaimo!

    • The joy of an auntie and niece bond. My niece, now aged 25 and a doctor, at around 3 years old asked me “what do aunties do?” I can’t remember what I said but a little while later my sister passed me a mango pit to finish eating. I took a bite and held it out for my niece to take a bite. Her beautiful little hands came up and took the pit from me and she proceeded to finish up all the mango. I looked at her and said “that’s what aunties do, they give you their most favourite thing in the whole world because they love you”. She is coming to visit next weekend and I can’t wait. I am totally in awe of the person she has become.

  14. I love your reference to ‘help’, My mom taught me to knit, but my mom is a very basic knitter who just keeps churning out the same slippers for the whole family and sweater for the new babies. She tried for a few years to keep up with me after I got the knitting bug at the age of 40, but finally settled back into her slippers and Christmas and baby cardigan for showers and socks…she keeps trying to make socks and cannot turn a heel, or cast on correctly and will only use two circulars (she doesn’t LIKE dpns). She used to call and have me ‘help’ her but after about the fifth pair, I realized she doesn’t want to learn, she just wants to knit rib and stockinette and have socks. So we don’t pretend anymore, she asks me to help, I stop by and cast on or turn a heel and hand them back. It’s our quality time…lol

  15. Made me tear up…to work their stitches is so intimate :). Bravo all you wonderful sisters, aunties, daughters, nieces – family.

  16. My mom was a great knitter. Knitted socks on the beach for her father, knitted me ponchos, knitted for all the family babies. When she got sick with Parkinson’s disease, in her 40s, she was working on a blue sweater for Ben, the baby grandson of her cousin-and-best-friend. Her hands got too unsteady to knit, and the sweater got forgotten. Twenty years later, when she was pretty much completely disabled from the disease–at that point she couldn’t walk or speak, let alone write or knit–I was pregnant with my first, and on one of my visits to her I needed to borrow a stitch holder and went rooting through her old craft stuff. I found the blue sweater in her old knitting bag–pretty much done, just missing the neck and sleeves–so I took it and finished it for my baby boy. When he had worn it a couple of times, someone carelessly tossed it in the wash, and it got partly unravelled at the neck and sleeves. I put it aside and forgot it and it sat around like that for maybe another decade. (I never get rid of anything.) Then my brother’s wife got pregnant with their first–also a boy–and it fell to me, the big sister, to repair the sweater again and pass it on. Which meant that my mom got to see her stitches worn by two of her grandsons, a decade apart, long after she couldn’t knit for them anymore herself. Knitting as connection, yeah.

  17. This made me cry. Then again, I’ve been crying a lot since my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer a few weeks ago. Yesterday we found out it’s Stage 3, not the Stage 2 we originally thought. And so I knit away at yet another hat for her to wear when she looses her hair to chemo. (Hat Number 5 is nearly complete, and I managed a pair of Knitted Knockers after Hat 3.

    So thank you. I hope that Pam will feel how very much I love her when she wears all the soft (but non-woolly, she has an allergy, poor thing) things I’m making for her.

  18. Having major Hallmark moment in this post and the comments. My Mom taught me to knit when I was a tween. I picked it up again when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Partly because I wanted her to enjoy fellowship with fellow Knitters (we joined a guild and went to a retreat) and partly because I was hoping to break down knitting patterns so that she could still follow them (her last project before she got sick was a sweater for herself with all over traveling cables). I never solved the pattern issue, but she took up knitting again when just the act of knitting was soothing. Today marks the second anniversary of her death. Connections are important.

    • My mum also taught me to knit and she was a great knitter. When she developed Dementia, my saddest moment was seeing her sitting with a ball of yarn in her lap during her last weeks. She no longer knew how to knit but the connection to the yarn was there nevertheless.

  19. Yes. This post really resonated with me.
    Two years before her passing, my grandmother started a cabled afghan for my aunt. When my grandma passed and my aunt felt she couldn’t finish the blanket, half of the unfinished project was mailed to me (I was living in Denmark at the time) and my mom knit up the other half (in California). It was a way for the three of us to literally work through my grandma’s death individually. And then, a way for us to all bind together in one project and create something out of her passing.
    We all handled the yarn that my grandma had carefully chosen and wound into balls, we worked through her handwritten notes on the pattern, and finally, my aunt wove all of the sections together.
    Talk about stitched with love and warmth.

    • Wow! There is something to be said about the connection you share in a group project designed to soothe your grief and feel close to your loved ones. Thanks for sharing your story.

  20. So sweet. A beautiful niece and two beautiful knits. Kelly’s knitted things are always pretty (she’s the one whose pretty knitted baby sweaters went missing for a while, right?). That’s a nice connection and a nice system you three have going. I think we can all relate to the love that goes into the things that we make for the ones we love.

  21. As silly as it may sound to some, you and your family are everything that makes me thankful to have been born human! Thank you, Stephanie, for continuing to share your stories. Loving is truly the greatest gift.

  22. Wow, that was one of your best, I must say. I feel that way when knitting for people I love, trying to infuse a little good feeling in each stitch.

  23. She looks too young to be delivering babies. She’s but a babe herself. Delivering babies runs in your family. Spades does knitting apparently.

  24. So great that your family can share such a wonderful art form. My grandmother, aunt and I all knit, my grandmother is capable of beautiful works but rarely does anything anymore. Currently I’m knitting a comfort stole for my mom, she and my dad are getting divorced after 36 years and it’s really hitting us both hard. So I’m knitting as therapy for us both, a knitted hug for her and repetition for me.

    PS, what sweater pattern is that? Love it!

  25. I love everything about this post, but especially the part where Savard is a midwife. That’s so cool. Did she get that from you?

  26. “…it keeps taking three women to make one sweater, like it always has.”

    This so made me smile. Knitting is just way more that “knitting.”

  27. I also have a “special” niece living too far away. Her parents both died before she was 10. Another aunt raised her, but she and I have become close now that she is an adult. I knitted her a shawl for her wedding, and things for her babies. A couple of years ago, she began learning to knit, though she has too little spare time. When I visit her next month, i’ll think of this post as we dig out our knitting once the boys are asleep.

  28. oh my…I just re-re-read your post and although I commented above, here I am again. It is about Lou. I know he is not that old even now, but seeing his wee picture in the very big sweater – framed how time has dashed by. Hello little Lou, good to peek at your again and I’m very glad you have a lovely family to grow up in.

  29. Love the Hudson’s Bay blanket. Sooo Canadian. My sisters and I have helped each other’s knitting before. Feels great.
    Julie in San Diego

  30. I always say I knit sweaters for new babies because it’s like I’m giving them hugs even when I can’t see them…knitting is the best virtual hug out there!

  31. Aww. This reminded me of my mom. I just came across the pattern for a shawl I finished for her years ago (the rows were getting too long). We have an unspoken but time-honored agreement: she knits me socks, and I recycle and dye yarn for her and knit her shawls. 🙂 My last project was actually my first socks (your Foot Oven pattern!)… But it’s okay, because she hates bulky weight yarn, so I’m not crossing our line. Maybe she will read this comment, since we like to connect over your blog, too. 🙂

    P.S. The suspense is getting to me – how is the Rhinebeck sweater?(!)

  32. You deserve the Aunt of the Year award. Not only did you do a very sweet deed for your niece, but you also speak of it in the most kind and loving way – not a hint of that judgey tone people like to throw around these days. Thank you for a lovely blog.

  33. Your story is that of life itself. Isn’t it beautiful that knitting (or quilting or sewing) can be a metaphor for something so special? If we didn’t pick up where someone else left off or fix someone else’s errors, what kind of life would it be?

  34. I am in awe of all your work. Do you do workshops in yarn stores? I would be honored if you could come to see my wonderful clients. They would be insanely thrilled. Please let me know.
    Warmest Regards,
    Angela
    Rumpelstiltskin Yarns
    Milton2@optonline.net
    631-750-1790
    631-824-6688

  35. Stephanie I loved this story, it’s what I have always cherished about knitting. It brings us together, it makes us connected. Enjoy Vancouver, and hope that you will be at Knit City next year, 2017 is my year to be there! 🙂

  36. Lovely post. Know the power of crafting through the generations. Mom did all sorts of crafts, and at one point made small beaded flowers. When she was bedridden and needed full-time care, I found the box containing pieces she had started. Cried, because she’d never be able to finish them, and never taught me how.

  37. Oh, how nice that your love is mingled with her mom’s and there for her to wrap around her. I have still got some fabric, buttons and yarn from my aunt who has been gone 14 years now. I love to be able to use some of them in gifts for my family. The gift is extra-special if it has Betty buttons or Betty yarn in it.

  38. I would never, ever have picked that yarn for that cardigan, but it’s perfect! And I have to hope at least one of my many nieces and nephews has at least one more baby so I can knit that Hudson Bay blanket – it’s gorgeous.

  39. How lovely 🙂 I have a niece I love very much who is far away too. She doesn’t call me for knitting (tho she loves anything I send her). She calls me for sewing.
    “Aunty, have you ever seen The Seven Year Itch?”
    So she got a Marilyn dress for homecoming when she was in college.
    “Aunty, do you think you could make the dress in this poster but out of this fabric?” And a dress for a charity ball put on by the company she works for.

    She’s been my grown-up Barbie Doll for years. And now we’re working on finding the perfect Wedding dress. 🙂

  40. What a lovely story! I can picture the stitches connecting you three through time and space.

    When my grandmother was in the nursing home with her final illness, she told me she wanted me to have all her knitting things. And there were two pairs of unfinished mittens for charity– and I knew exactly what she was think. I assured her that I would finish them and donate them for her. And today when I pick up a pair of the needles I inherited, I still feel the connection- from her sisters-in-law who taught her to knit, to her, to my mom and to me.

  41. Oh. This made me teary for so many reasons, but mostly because you’re just so you, and this exactly the way that you would show your niece how much you love her. <3

  42. This is one of my favorite posts. I firmly believe that love is past through a person & into the yarn when knitting. I love that your niece will be reminded of you and your sister whenever she wears that sweater.

  43. I probably missed this in the comments, but m what yarn did Savannah (love that name) use for the sweater? I love the colorway.

  44. Just wanted to say this story was a very sweet read. You are totally right about being together through each of you working on the same sweater. Loved this post. xo

  45. Your writing of knitting and love of your family brings tears to my eyes. I wish I was as lucky as you! I know it’s not luck but you know what I mean.

  46. Catching up on some of your posts and this one just made me teary. This. This is why I knit. Thanks, as always, for that reminder.

  47. ….and this made me cry. At work. (Though in fairness this is a hard time of year for me.) What a lovely way to stay connected to the women in your family.

  48. There was a time back when my daughters knitted, that the pieces I worked with them on or repaired were the close times for us. Now they have their own lives and knitting has sadly become a skill that they don’t use anymore. I only see my oldest child of 3 once or twice a year for a few minutes at a time, and the baby has a toddler. My son just doesn’t see the need for knitwear in Phoenix. 🙂

  49. OK, I’m past the tears. So now I NEED to know: what yarn did Sav use for her gorgeous Grace Cardigan?!

    ps Yes I saw someone’s guess about maybe it’s MadTosh, but I just gotta know what it really is 🙂 Love love love it!

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