Diamonds last forever
Monday June 18th 2007, 3:31 pm
Filed under: Knit

I got a delightful email today from a woman who’d just knitted her version of my Strawberry Pie shawl for her nine-year-old granddaughter. I immediately thought of the sweater my mom had made for me when I was nine, and I wish I had a picture, any picture, anywhere, of it, but it’s long gone.

My grandfather once requested that my mom knit him a cardigan. Being very proper in his dress, and needing it not to look too casual, he specifically requested a very fine knit and something that he could wear easily at work–which happened to be the hallways of Congress (when he wasn’t wearing his suitcoat.)

Mom designed an allover diamond Aran, the kind of cabling that Barbara Walker would describe as right-twist and left-twist, quite understated. I vividly remember that subdued green wool yarn and that pattern as it slowly, slowly appeared on Mom’s needles: she used to knit it when she was waiting for me at my piano lessons. With six kids and little downtime, it took her a year to do. I reminded her of it once, a few years ago, and she exclaimed, “I used fingering weight and size 2s?! I must have been out of my mind!” Yes, Mom; I remember you teaching me what the term fingering weight meant. I wanted to do that someday. I remember. She had had to buy needlepoint yarn to get the look she’d wanted.

The ultimate act of motherly love is that, because I totally fell in love with that sweater while she was making it, when she finally finally finished it and told me it was my turn next for a sweater, when I said I wanted that same diamond pattern, she actually did it. She must have been screamingly bored out of her mind with repeating that same thing after so much time, but she did it. She let me pick out a rosey shade. With a zipper in front. This was radically fashionable at the time, and with a big family, we rarely went for the latest fad–but lookatmenow! She did mine in worsted weight (there are limits, after all) and I was thrilled.

You know how teenagers sometimes wish they could tell their parents how to dress before they’ll be willing to be seen in public with them? Yeah, well. In my case, I loved that sweater, with Grandpa’s diamonds altered just so just for me, and I refused to give it up. I outgrew it. Badly. I refused to stop wearing it. My mom saw me sneaking it on one day when the wrists barely went past my elbows, and that was that–it just kind of “disappeared” shortly after. I was not happy.

I asked Mom a few years ago whatever happened to it, and she didn’t remember; oh, she’d given it away, she was sure, but she would only have given it to someone who appreciated it, she assured me.

Grandpa, meantime, wore that sweater for thirty more years, until his death at 95. It was always his favorite. His daughter had created it just for him, and it was just the right weight for wearing year-round. It’s one reason why I like knitting in wool and baby alpaca; with good care, one’s work can last practically forever, without the aging tendencies inherent in a cotton yarn.

It just now occurred to me as I was writing this why my Embossed Diamonds pattern that frames these pages must have so immediately appealed to me as it appeared out of my needles the first time. A similar-shaped stitch pattern. Huh. The things we learn about ourselves when we write.

As for that grandma who wrote to me, I am delighted she liked my pattern–and I am thrilled for her young granddaughter, who doesn’t ever have to worry about wrist lengths.

(Meantime, since every good post needs a picture, I’m putting the back of the book on top of the Sky Drama shawl shown on the front cover.)back of the book

9 Comments so far
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I hope my kids like their school sweaters this year half as much as you loved that one. 🙂

I miss my Strawberry Pie Shawl (I gave mine to my husband’s grandmother when she was in the hospital and quite ill). Maybe I should go through my stash and see what will work nicely.

Comment by Carina 06.18.07 @ 4:21 pm

I love your stories. 🙂

Comment by Romi 06.18.07 @ 5:57 pm

Another terrific “yarn”… I just love reading your blog each day.

Comment by Amanda 06.18.07 @ 6:04 pm

I am going crazy waiting for this book to be in Vermont.

You should know that Borders in Burlington has a copy on order, which says good things about the exposure the book is getting. And since one copy was on order, I went ahead and requested three more from the buyers. Told them I was going to make it my staff selection.

I will, too. That will make sure it’s downstairs, with all the brandy-new fiction and non-fiction, for at least a month. 🙂



Comment by kristine 06.18.07 @ 7:20 pm

This past winter I started two matching colorwork vests on size 3s for my girls. I don’t know what I was thinking because I didn’t finish until winter was over. Luckily, we had a couple of late cold spells though and they wore them continuously in those couple of weeks and I made them a wee bit big, so they’ll be wearing them next winter as well. They do appreciate handknits and are both learning to knit themselves!

Comment by Alison 06.19.07 @ 4:15 am

I got your new book from Amazon yesterday, and can’t begin to tell you how wonderful I think it is. The knitting and patterns are fabulous, but I have to tell you – I love the stories and the connections you have revealed. It reinforces my opinion that knitters have formed their own community “back fences” where we visit and share, laugh and cry, and find lasting, wonderful friendships. Your husband was right – you did have a wonderful book in you! Thank you for my newest favorite book.


Comment by Jane Gawthrop 06.19.07 @ 7:30 am

When I was 8ish my Mom made me this beautiful pink pullover. Simple stockinette, but I loved it. I wore it often–until one day it disappeared. I lost it! I didn’t tell my mom for months afterwards–she eventually asked me about it one day. I confessed tearfully that I didn’t know what happened to it. Boy was she mad! While all this was happening, she was crocheting me an afghan and she told me this was the LAST thing she was “knitting” for me since I was so careless.

Years and years later, my mom and I were looking at pictures and we cam to a school picture with me wearing the pink sweater. I reminded my mom how much I loved it and how horrible I felt when I lost it. She turned to me, “You didn’t lose it…I unraveled it when I ran out of pink yarn for that pink and white afghan of yours.”

I was none to happy. All that guilt and SHE had forgotten she had stolen my sweater and blame me for being careless.

LOL–now though I can laugh.

Comment by Birdy 06.19.07 @ 6:47 pm

I am new to this group and actually new to lace knitting. I just got your book today, and you have some wonderful shawls in it, that even I can attempt to make. Thank you for all your hard work.

Linda E.

Comment by Linda E. 06.20.07 @ 7:36 pm tell me I can’t have it until NOVEMBER…oh sigh…..I can tell this is one of those books I want right NOW. Love reading your blog.

Comment by Claire 06.21.07 @ 2:59 am

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