Wednesday Miscellany: More about the afghan

Thank you, America for putting a fiesty grandma in the speaker’s chair! Could it be that Nancy Pelosi knits?

Back to the afghan, which is too big a project not to belabor it here:

The afghan was knit in memory of my sister-in-law’s husband, Eric, who passed away in February. When someone dies out-of-time like Eric—he was 52–-it leaves survivors feeling helpless. Nothing can be done, of course, except eat, tell stories and shower love on the family. In this case, though, it struck me as we shared stories and ate deli sandwiches that among Eric and Jill’s loved ones there were an inordinate number of knitters.

Having written about the Shawl Ministry—and knowing Jill’s propensity for feeling the cold—I asked family stitchers about collaborating on an afghan that would aggregate our love and heartbreak into one piece, something tangible that would demonstrate to Jill long after the hubub of the funeral that we recognize her loss and continue to keep Eric in our thoughts.

I had my heart set on knitting the Great American Aran Afghan until Mom gave me the book. The squares are works of art in and of themselves and intricate enough to make even the most intrepid knitter quake. Our bevy of knitters was certainly competent, but these patterns require intense concentration and some heavy-hitting skills. I went ahead and bought the yarn—Plymouth Encore worsted, a reasonably priced washable, so the blanket would be dog-friendly—and shipped out the patterns with the enjoinder: Simplify at will.

I tackled a couple of the toughies, my favorite being the Tree of Life.


Bottom left

Trust me, these patterns are humbling and didn’t inspire a meditative environment for this knitter, unless the point is to “be in the moment” swearing. But I plugged along (even learning how to cable without a needle, finally), and soon started getting squares from all over the country, and offers from people to knit more. I received squares with patterns I’ve never seen before—cleved double cables, smock-like stitches, and a thick, knit woven. Gorgeous work. The blanket grew as more people volunteered to knit and fat manilla envelopes arrived in the mail.

The finished piece contains 20 squares knit by 10 knitters with pieces coming from both coasts, the country’s midsection and the greater Southwest. Contributors ranged in age from 28 to 80–something, one knitter had never met Eric, but wanted to add her efforts anyway. It took miles of mattress stitch to put the thing together, but it was quiet, satisfying work as all this loving energy came together. To frame it, I used reverse single crochet (aka crab stitch), which provided a nice, finished edge.


Crab-stitch edge

Today, I must steam some of the seams and pack it up for shipping. In retrospect, of course, I wish I had made different choices, moved this square here, that square there, seamed a little straighter, reknit one of my squares, etc., etc. But in spite of the normal post-project flagellation, I can’t stop looking at it. It’s a pretty, warm throw.

Knitting doesn't change the fact that this afghan is headed for the house where Eric's absence is a constant. But I hope soon that this blanket will take its place on the sofa, to be filled with dog hair, spaghetti stains and maybe a tear or two, just a part of family life.


Comments (5) -

November 8. 2006 01:30


It's a good day to be a democrat!

kristen |

November 9. 2006 04:05


This is a beautiful work of love.  Another example of how knitting builds community.  

Sue |

November 9. 2006 05:42


The blanket is beautiful! I coordinated something similar as a baby blanket for my brother and sister-in-law, and was thrilled by people's enthusiasm for the project.

Kirsty |

June 29. 2007 13:55


think I'd be grossed out if one of my dingle-ball trims got splashed with toilet water, tho.

上海数据恢复 |

August 13. 2008 09:55

Vicodin withdrawl. Vicodin.

Vicodin. |

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