Department of Why We Do This
August 4, 2006
Wednesday, aka The Hottest Day of My Life No Kidding, I shlepped into the city for a couple of very pressing reasons. One was to look at a slab of stone in a stoneyard in Brooklyn. I was very curious to see what a stoneyard in Brooklyn looks like, and it did not disappoint. Acres and acres of slabs, all neatly filed in wooden slab-holders, and a leviathan of a machine with giant clothes-pin thingies that could pick up individual slabs as if they were playing cards, to show the people. Plus, the person who guided us through the stoneyard was a lady. A lady who could really talk Stone. I missed my Gramps. He liked to look at stone. He would have recognized some of the stones as old Italian friends.
The other reason, even more pressing, was to attend one of the monthly meetings of my newly formed Craft Nite, consisting of me and –oh the delicious, victorious irony–two of my former bosses from my US Attorney’s Office days. Jane had reached the ‘need-to-purl’ stage in her knitting journey, and I wanted to Be There for her, in the most supportive way possible. (Do you remember learning how to purl? How DIFFERENT it seemed from knitting? How USELESS it was when your teacher said, ‘It’s really just backwards knitting”?) Our other member, Nancy, does needlepoint. (Do you know what an epic event the finishing of a needlepoint is? It’s like the World Cup, only maybe not so frequent.)
There was much rejoicing when Nancy unfurled the needlepoint. Nancy is deciding how far to needlepoint around the edges, but otherwise it’s pretty much a done deal. Ready for a visit to the Needlepoint Day Spa, where it will be made into a velvet-backed cushion to reside in perpetuity on a yellow chintz sofa, fulfilling its Needlepoint Destiny of being admired while reposing on chintz.
But the main event of Wednesday evening’s Show & Tell was this:
Jane brought out two cardigans that had been made for her by her aunt Rose Vera. I will show only one, because the other is in a Color No Longer In Fashion. (I don’t want to hurt anybody. We’re talking Harvest Gold meets Near Chartreuse.)
Jane received this jacket when she was 14, and wore it a lot. Yet it has never been repaired. It looks brand new.
I examined it very carefully.
The zipper. I was stunned by the handsewing on the zipper.
Jane has 3 sisters and a brother, and her aunt made multiple cardis for all of them, plus for all of Jane’s cousins, plus for the offspring of these siblings and cousins. Jane said they all were very similar, made of good plain wool in simple styles. I wondered if Aunt Rose Vera had a basic pattern in her head that she always made, but Jane was adamant that her aunt ALWAYS uses a pattern.
So why do we do this, this knitting thing? Because Jane, a grownup woman with a grownup (well nearly!) son of her own, has kept these little cardis all these years, in a readily accessible place, in case somebody like me should drop by to admire them. They are a tangible memory of somebody caring enough to hand-sew a zipper into a cardigan for her to wear to school. (This we know: there is no greater love than installing a zipper.)
So meditate on that, and cast on another kid sweater willya?