Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sometimes

Sometimes I wonder why people knit? To reduce stress, quit smoking, give themselves a creative outlet, ensure that they have clothes that fit perfectly, because they find it relaxing, because they enjoy a challenge, because they feel it connects them with knitters who have gone before them are all reasons that I've seen given on blogs and on knitting forums. There are bound to be many other reasons that I've missed, but the one reason that gets mentioned again and again is to do with clothing those we love.

I think this is primarily why I knit. There are plenty of other reasons, but the overriding reason for my knitting is as a way of expressing my love and affection for others. A friend of mine has just split up with her boyfriend, and so I'm knitting her some snuggly socks. It's a way of letting someone know that you're thinking of them, and that whilst you can't always physically be there to give them a hug, make endless cups of tea and just sit with them, when they pull on a pair of cashmere socks then you're there with them.

I knit for my children and get an immense sense of pride in seeing them wearing something I've made. It shows I want to spend my time keeping them warm and looking good. Those who knit for charity are also showing their love for others . By making clothes, blankets or toys for those who need them, they are demonstrating immense compassion for people who they will most likely never meet, and are doing so simply because they understand that any human being in need is deserving of warmth and comfort.

The one aspect of knitting that I feel most demonstrates a knitters love for another person is when they knit something that they themselves hate. To spend hours making something garish, unflattering, dull or in a hideous colour simply because it has been asked for is a sure sign of love.

When I was 15 I asked my mum to knit me a cardigan and, like all good knitters, she agreed. I wanted an oversized long grey baggy cardigan, with absolutely no frills, cables, lacey bits or anything that would make the knitting of it even remotely interesting - it had to be stocking stitch all the way. I was going for a Morrissey/Robert Smith/Kurt Cobain type of look (as is the way with teenagers), and my mum sighed and declared that she would knit it for me. A sidar pattern was found, the yarn bought and she cast on. At the time I was a very skinny wee thing, and so my mum suggested that I might want something that went just below my bum and was maybe 40" round the chest, as this was a good 8" of ease. Nope, that was not what I wanted. I wanted it to my knees and to be a 48" chest. Sighing, my mum agreed to knit exactly what I wanted. I should also point out that the yarn used was DK weight, mainly acrylic and a very drab grey, so it wasn't as though knitting with it was a pleasure. The cardigan took months to knit (understandably), but it was exactly what I wanted.

I'm wearing the massive cardigan right now, and nearly 15 years since it was knitted it's still going strong. The seams have been perfectly mattress stitched, and the button band was picked up and then knitted, rather than knitted on. The finishing on this cardi must have taken hours, and it is perfect. The acrylicy wool is starting to go a bit bobbly and it's wearing a bit thin in places, but I'll never throw it out. I've worn this to night clubs, I wore it when I was in labour with baby badger, I wear it now when I'm poorly.

It's 10 years today since my mum died, and no matter what people say, time doesn't make it easier. It still hurts like hell and I don't think I will ever get over it. What I do have though, is this cardigan, and it is incontravertable knitted proof of just how much my mum loved me.

27 Comments:

Anonymous Idoru said...

Badger, you brought a tear to my eye. I'm so sorry you're feeling down. I know there's very little, maybe nothing, I can say to make you feel better. At least you know you were loved, and still are, by many people.

1:46 pm  
Blogger Helen said...

*hugs*

1:48 pm  
Blogger Bronte said...

*snuggles Badger*

2:08 pm  
Blogger Piglottie said...

What a beautiful, moving post. Sending ***hugs*** and much thanks for so eloquently summing up all that is wonderful about knitting.

2:41 pm  
Blogger Kendra said...

I hadn't thought about why people knit but I think you have summed it up perfectly. Thanks for sharing the story of your cardigan with us. It brought a tear to my eye too.

I'm so glad you're back blogging again.

7:23 pm  
Blogger Wye Sue said...

Thinking of you, it's a bad time of year for having anniversaries.

Knitting does help one remember and appreciate the love of others. Do try and wear it when you are well and not just wanting a hug from Mum, let others see the true love of knitting.
Take care, Sue

7:26 pm  
Blogger blog-blethers said...

You write so movingly about your mum that you brought tears to my eyes ... and can so understand why you cherish the cardigan as a rememberance of how much you cherished each other. I so agree with your thoughts about what motivates us to knit for those we love, especially if there are times when it can be more difficult to say directly (hence my dad's socks knitted frantically and late into the night before he went for his neurosurgery). So glad to see you back with us in blogland x

8:42 pm  
Blogger kathryn said...

Nice to see you back,Badger and thank you for sharing your "why we knit" thoughts. I've never really analyzed my motives so thoroughly but I can see I share lots of those reasons and especially the expressing of love.
It's very hard to have such a sad anniversary at Christmas time when we're thinking so much of our family and I agree the hurt lasts for a very long time but there will be more and more times that you are able to think about your mum without such pain - I know from how long it took me after my dad died. As a nation we find it very hard to talk about death and so much of what we're feeling is bottled up. It must be very comforting to have the cardigan. I hope this isn't too personal to put in a comment - I shan't be offended if you need to delete it.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

6:44 am  
Blogger Seahorse said...

Another one reacing for a hanky here. That was a beautiful post. {hugs}

10:19 am  
Blogger TutleyMutley said...

Powerful writing. I've got all teary.
I have a very different relationship with my Ma. I once knitted HER something similar when I was a teenager - it was a huge mohair thing (she's a size 22+) in rib with a loose polo neck - just like she asked for and it took me ages. She put it in storage with a load of other stuff and left it there. I'm not sure she ever even wore it. But she is who she is and she IS still here for all her faults...
Happy New Year...
love and hugs

10:25 am  
Anonymous Nana said...

Sometimes it's hard for us to remember how much we care about people until they're not there anymore. And having reminders about that love is the very best. I've still got a raggedy bunny a grandmother gave me and it reminds me of her.

Heh..that being said, I was wondering about one of your previous posts on the blog...um...blargle, I wanted to know how you knit the yin/yang symbol into the wristbands for that boy. My brother loves it and I wanted to do a full blankie for him....

4:55 pm  
Anonymous Silvia said...

Excactly!!!! All I have left from my Mum is the love for crafting and all things fibery but in one way or another I will always have that...just like your Cardigan.

8:28 pm  
Blogger Rain said...

Mothers are wonderful beings and sounds like she was a superstar. It's great that you still wear the cardigan and can think of her every time you do.

9:00 pm  
Anonymous kai said...

*hugs*

We love you too Badger. It's not quite the same, but I hope it helps..

12:24 pm  
Anonymous knittedladybird said...

aw badger...I do so sympathise and I have a cardigan that was made for me by nanna and it holds the same feelings as you have so perfectly described.
SHEwas my inspiration for taking up the pins and why I make stuff for my loved ones (whether they asked or not!)
My cardigan doesn't exactly fit any more (as it fitted at the time) but she is knitted into that cardigan and therefore it stays.
I've shed a tear over this thread but it has also made me smile as I remember my Nanna....I know it doesn't get easier but I do so hope you begin to feel happier soon.

Big Hugs Linz xxxx

10:34 pm  
Blogger dreamcatcher said...

Such a moving and eloquent post - thanks for sharing the story behind the cardigan *hugs*

2:16 am  
Blogger Daisy said...

You've put it really well (much better than I could have done!)

1:03 pm  
Blogger DianeM said...

*Hands virtual cups of tea and tim-tams to Badger*

((hugs))

7:19 pm  
Blogger KnitYoga said...

All I have left of my mum are some lovely jumpers she knitted for me and I wlll never part with them. I know exactly what you mean. There's something about a knitted garment and the care that goes into every stitch that makes it very special. ((hugs)).

10:00 am  
Blogger Fiona said...

I'm here to tag you, Amelie. Happy New Year BTW.

Fiona(knitsknotsgnats.blogspot.com)

Here are the rules:

THE RULES:
Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.”

2:21 pm  
Blogger Fiona said...

Half of the stuff I said in the last message hasn't come through! I do hope you are feeling better. Your post almost made me cry.

Fiona

2:22 pm  
Anonymous angie Cox said...

A beautiful post.I know how you feel cos I wanted a fair-isle anything.Mum didn't knit it but srtuggled with some gloves which I adored. I was mugged a few days later.Luckily my bag was thrown over the wall of the local cinema and finding my address they notified me. The money was gone but my gloves still there .Mum can't knit now and had completely lost use of her right arm so I knit for her.

11:02 am  
Blogger acrylik said...

What a beautiful post {hugs}

11:25 am  
Blogger Lyonheart said...

Oh Badger, what a poignant post. I'm so glad you have your cardi and can feel your mum's obvious love whenever you wear it, it must bring some comfort to you on bad days. I know what you mean about it not getting easier, I still feel like that about my dad sixteen years on.
Sending hugs and warm fuzzy knitterly love xxx

10:23 am  
Anonymous jess said...

Yep - it made me cry too.
i guess I'm the friend with the ex boyfirned but the new snuggly socks - thank you so much for everything xx

10:33 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom has been gone almost 20 years now.
I cherish the sweater she knit for my daughter when she was 2 ( she is now 22).
Your post made me cry, but in a good way.
A lovely tribute to your mom.

Linda in Rochester, NY

8:29 pm  
Blogger Badger said...

Nana, the yin and yang symbol was charted for me by a friend (and I've now lost the chart, otherwise I'd have posted it for you), and I used the intarsia technique to knit them. It's a really simple shape, so it should be easy enough to knit one into a blanket :)

9:43 pm  

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