My mother taught me to do cross stitch when I was four years old. That means I learned to handle a needle and thread before I learned to write my own name. My paternal grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was about ten. And between these two wonderful women, summers with my maternal grandmother, and classes with the White Rose Embroiderers' Guild of America chapter, I learned many, many needlework techniques. My mother especially enjoyed cross stitch, crewel, and eventually canvas work. Needlecraft was a hobby we shared together, a point where we could connect regardless of our differences.
But my mother does not knit.
About a decade ago I discovered knitting. Oh, there are still cross stitch kits and other needle arts tucked away in the cedar chest in my guest bedroom. But I went off and discovered a new territory where my mother had never been. I love the way I can think in three dimensions with knitting. I love how knitting can be functional. And I love how knitting can be out in the world where others will see it, unlike my cross stitch triumphs that are viewed only in my home.
In all this time I have been knitting, my mother had never asked me to knit her anything. I don't think she enjoys clothes. Like many (most American?) women, she has spent much of her lifetime fighting her weight. (The skinny genes I so enjoy came from my dad. The tall genes came from both of my parents.) It is hard to enjoy clothes when they remind you of what you don't like about your body rather than celebrating what you do like. Not only has she never asked for a sweater, but she has also not asked for socks, or mittens, or gloves, or a hat, or even a fabulous felted bag.
You may recall my after Christmas post in which I mentioned how my mother arranged possibly the best gift I have ever gotten from her -- a trip to The Mannings. This was wonderful on a number of levels. My sister, grandmother, and Cuddly Hubby came along, so it was a social outing. And I appreciate that they all were willing to step into my knitting world for just a little while to see a glimpse of why I love the knitting community and what this art has to offer. But one of the loveliest things about the trip was that my mother asked me to knit something for her.
The pattern is from Oat Couture, the "Curlicue Blanket." The full blanket has fifteen different sections, all shaped with short rows. The shawl at The Mannings was worked over sections 1-10. My mother is a tall, broad-shouldered woman; and the sample didn't quite fit her through the shoulders. Consequently, I've worked sections 1-13 for her shawl. The yarn is Crystal Palace Mini Mochi in color 107 Autumn Rainbow. I used US 7 (4.5mm) needles and less than five balls of the yarn. The only refinement I made is that I worked a slipped-stitch edge to keep the selvage neat. The sawtooth border worked great for blocking with wires. After threading the wires, I stretched the shawl out on the guest bed, pinned the wires, and spritzed the shawl. I let it dry overnight. I don't often knit other people's patterns, but this one was worth it on more than one level.
Since I finished the shawl just before STITCHES South, I wore it to the Thursday night Ravelry meet-up. The picture at top right is me wearing the shawl to "The Magic Flute" opera at Cobb Energy Center the following week. The wall behind me in the photo is backlit alabaster. I showed the shawl off at The Whole Nine Yarns knit night and knit lit, and also at the May meeting of the Atlanta Knitting Guild. Many, many people came up to get a look at it at the guild meeting. One lady said, "Oh, there's still plenty of time to buy your mother a different gift." Another, who tried on the shawl, said, "Do you want to be my daughter?" I hope somebody in town has the pattern in stock! I think the picture was up on Ravelry less than three hours before someone favorited it. I finally put the shawl in the mail on Friday morning. I hope it will please her.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom!