Posted tagged ‘mom’

It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back

July 9, 2015


Pattern: Pembrokeshire Pathways (rav link) by Brenda Dayne
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential (75% wool, 25% nylon), colorway Turtle Multi
Needle: U.S. 1 (2.25mm) nickel Options fixed 40″ circulars (two-at-at-time magic loop)

I’ve made my mother a couple of shawls and a warm, neck-hugging cowl for her trip to Scotland. But I think what she would really appreciate is a pair of socks. She’s always relaxing on the balcony with a book and a beverage, putting her feet up, and those feet would be even happier if they were protected from the sea breezes and A/C drafts by cozy, beautiful, delightful handknit socks.

But I have never made socks for anyone other than myself. I am at a loss as to how to begin. I know when to start the heel or the toe on socks I make because I try them on. Socks that come out too loose or too tight, too short or too long, are socks that are worse than useless. Instead of reminding you of the glorious, life-affirming luxury of a handknit sock, they remind you of compromise and failure and mediocrity and how cheap a 10-pack of socks is at Wal-Mart and at least those would fit, by God.

I was determined to overcome my fears and knit a sock for someone other than myself. For my mom! I chose a yarn that my dad, who does the laundry these days I think, could throw into a washer and dryer and not ruin. chose a pattern that was ribbed so it would fit even if my size calculations (based on Dad telling me that Mom wears a size 6 1/2 shoe) were off. It was all going great, until the toe. I started the toe earlier than I would have for myself, at 7 inches of foot length, going for a sock about 9 1/8″ or 9 3/16″ long, which is about 5/16″ to 3/8″ shorter than I would make a sock for myself. Unfortunately it turned out to fit me perfectly. The round toe seemed to just keep going. Normally one makes a toe about 2″ long; this one was 2.5″. When it became clear it was running long I eliminated a couple of rows, but it was too late.

See how perfect they are for my size 8 1/2 feet, my 9.5″ long feet? Maybe they would still work for Mom, I thought, and sent them off — partly as an exercise in letting go, in not getting too attached. I kind of loved these socks. They fit me so well. The cables-and-lace pattern was beautiful, the colors perfectly complementing it. I wanted to keep them. But I had made them for mom. Maybe they would magically fit. In my heart I knew better; Dad reported they were about a half inch too long. That means I will get them back, which makes me happy. But it also means that I have to start over thinking about socks for Mom. And as hard as it was to get over that hump of socks-not-for-me the first time, failure on the initial attempt is not making it any easier.

All you can do is cast on again. And again.


She’s got herself a universe

February 5, 2012


Pattern: Ariosa Reversible Ribbed Cowl by Susan Mills
Yarn: Louisa Harding Hulda (50% wool, 30% acrylic, 20% linen), colorway Grizzly
Needles: U.S. 10 1/2 Harmony wood Options 24″ circulars

My mom doesn’t like to have her picture taken. It happens to most women at a certain age, I suppose. She protests every time a camera is produced in her vicinity, backing away from family photos. It’s not false humility or casual shyness. I had to fight her for several minutes the night before she left town, the night I finished this cowl for her, to get her to agree to a picture. And I had to promise not to show her face.

So there are only two pictures of this cowl in this post. The cowl was requested by Mom before she and Dad arrived to help me take care of the kids while Noel was at the Sundance Film Festival. I made her a cowl a few years ago that she loves. But I made it with buttons — at the time, thinking that it would be easier for her to get on since she wouldn’t have to pull it over her head and mess up her hair. She tells me now that the buttons come undone due to the large buttonholes. What’s also true is that she’s having problems with her hands. I know those buttons aren’t easy for her anymore.

She asked for something soft next to her skin, something long enough to pull up over her nose in a chill. I pulled up my Ravelry favorites and showed her some patterns. The first one was too simple. The second one, tall, fitted, and cabled, she liked. I didn’t want to go too colorful so she could wear it with everything. I showed her some City Tweed HW in Cottontail and this Hulda, a colorway I got in a trade from Raveler carazmatic who was in need of a skein or two to complete a project. I like this yarn. I made a beautiful scarf from it a couple of years ago. And Mom made a really good choice by going with this hot-milk-chocolate sort of color. It has a slight pink undertone that keeps her skin and hair from getting washed out in neutral tones. It makes her come alive. You can see it, even in these couple of pictures.


It wasn’t until after I’d finished knitting this cowl — in about two days — that I realized how functional it would be for my mother. It’s reversible both ways. Wear it inside out, upside down, it’s the same. And there’s no shaping, despite the elegant flare you see when it’s worn. It’s a tube of reversible cables, done in ribbing. Yet it conforms to the neck and creates an elegant collar effect, almost vintage. This yarn, in the working, doesn’t seem to have a lot of body or structure. But the cowl’s ribbed and cabled texture creates plenty of heft. No way this thing is going to flop over when the wind is howling.

Mom loves it. And I feel like I made something that is just right for her, just where she is now. I could have used a few more pictures in the few moments of daylight between binding off and the recipient driving away. But what matters is that it works. In a way I always wanted my creations to work for the woman who gave me life.

No wonder my happy heart sings

January 18, 2009

My mom is visiting us, along with my dad, while Noel is away at the Sundance Film Festival. They’ve been helping out immensely. I expected the delicious home-cooked meals we’ve been enjoying since Friday. What I didn’t anticipate was that they’d save my bacon when the furnace failed, and they shivered while waiting for the repairman while I had to be at work.

I think this is a great picture of my mom wearing the cowl I made for her for Christmas. But I know she’d disagree.

Like a lot of woman of a certain age, Mom hates having her picture taken. Starting Christmas Day when I talked to her on the phone, I made it clear that I needed a picture of her wearing it for my project notebook. She put me off, jokingly from a distance, but then more adamantly when she got here. I only got this snap by pretending that I wasn’t including her face in the photo, and she barely stood still for it. This was the second shot (I really did only photograph the cowl in the first), and she’s bolting for the street — I’m surprised the picture isn’t a blur.

I know Mom is serious about thinking she looks terrible in pictures. And I’m sure I’ll be the same way in a few years. We carry around the image of ourselves in our heads, and it gets frozen at a certain age. We don’t like to be reminded that we’ve moved on from that point. Mom says that she’s lost weight, and her face is too thin, and she looks terrible. And given her vehemence, I’m sure she believes it.

But to me, she looks just the way I remember her throughout my upbringing. When I see pictures from that time, she seems impossibly young — too young to have kids, practically a girl. In my memories, she’s exactly the way she is now — maybe a little more spry, maybe a little lighter on her feet, but mature, smiling, authoritative. A mother.

I know my dad will look at this page, but I hope he’ll see fit to keep it a secret from Mom. I want to add her face at this moment to all my memories.  She may not believe it, but it fits right in.