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For the past two years, I have been buttoning up my daughter, now
4, in hand-knit sweaters. Each time, when I put the button through the hole, I'm overcome with a feeling of relief that the sweaters still fit.
These soft, well-worn pieces were knit in the early '80s for a little girl named
Anne. She is my husband's cousin once removed. My husband's aunt knit them. When I put them on my daughter, I
imagine Anne's mom wrapping the little girl up in these sweaters and buttoning up her beloved
only daughter in them.
Her mom, Barbara, graciously gave me the sweaters a few years ago, and
it has been an honor to have my daughter wear them. These sweaters are also a stark contrast to our usual fare.
We shop at Target a lot.
The clothes are cheap, cute, trendy and practical. Also, they
don't last. Even when I let them hang dry, the clothes
fade and pill. After six months tops, I stash them in a corner our musty
garage, a signal that they will soon go to Goodwill.
My grandma made me a blanket when I was born. Every night, my parents would tuck me in and lay it the specific way I requested. I swore
that one patch of color was softer then all the rest.
My grandma was always a source of comfort to me. She died
when I was 16.
Once, when I was 10, my blanket disappeared for awhile. My mom
finally admitted she had it. She was upset, because she had accidentally washed it with a red lipstick and had been working to get it out.
The blanket survived.
I still have my blanket and offered it to my daughter, but she didn't
gravitate towards it like me. Sometimes, if I'm really sick, I will grab it and
sleep with it next to my head.
My aunt has hand-knit me and my kids beautiful sweaters. One had owls on it.
My mother-in-law has crocheted me blankets. She has tried to teach me just as my friend Michelle has
tried to teach me, but to no avail.
I look over the things that I treasure most, and they are, for the most part, handmade. I relish them all.
I want to be able to make something for my kids and also my
friend's grandchildren down the road, but I'm not so sure that's for me. No matter how often I've done it, I still run my hands over
the clothes that have been handmade for my kids. The old handmade Barbie
clothes my grandma made. I think of the makers' hands and their solitude while making these things. These quiet acts of love for the next generation make me miss
and appreciate them.
While pregnant with my first, I did knit something. A yellow sweater fit for a baby clown.
I must have been crazed with hormones, and also I had an abundance
of time since I wasn't working. I spent
time at the trendy knitting store in Hollywood, asking questions and watching
the older women come in and show off their projects.
After my second child, I gave up my knitting needles and
pronounced to my mom that I was done. "I'm not a knitter," I confessed. "Don't ask me again!"
But maybe I am.
Then I watched a video of a friend who died in a car
crash at 33. In the video, she was wearing the scarf I had knit for her. I remembered how she wore it often, it made me happy knowing
that my love for her was wrapped around her for awhile.
Perhaps I'll never progress past scarves but I do think that
homemade gifts are invaluable, and I will likely pick up my knitting needles again from time to time.