Posts Tagged ‘memories’

Power of Memory

April 11, 2018

The warm detergent-scented air, steady rumble of washers and dryers spinning, metallic jingle of the change machine, fellow customers folding, chatting, reading. It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve been to a laundromat, but not much has changed.

As often happens when I knit in public, my project (Second Sock) sparked curiosity and conversation. As she folded several baskets of clothes, the owner told me about her mother’s crochet and sewing skills.

Knit-laundromat

A 20-something woman said that she’s been thinking of learning to knit, partly to do something creative and also to break her habit of defaulting to her phone. I told her about a couple of local yarn stores that offer lessons and, as I left, encouraged her to follow through: “you’ll never regret learning to knit.” Hope she does.

My first knitting teacher and I have been spending a lot of time together this winter, walking from her apartment to the village market and/or our favorite lunch spot or thrift store several times a week. We’ve watched lots of Celtics basketball and have welcomed the start of baseball season, which provide plenty of knitting opportunities.

Last week, Mom expressed interest in knitting again, so we pulled out the simplest of her several works in progress (WIPs). After the briefest of tutorials, her muscle memory kicked in, and she was on her way!

Mom-knitting

 

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Ghosts in the Attic

February 15, 2011

I come from a long line of strong and crafty women. Women who sewed clothes for themselves and others. Women who knit sweaters, mittens, socks (argyle socks in the movie theater), and scarves. Sometimes their creations were practical, especially before globalization when it was cheaper to sew back-to-school clothes than to buy them. But more often they were gifts, labors of love for cherished friends and family.

My three brothers and I have personalized Christmas stockings, knit by our mother more than 40 or even 50 years ago. My cousin’s couch is adorned with small pillows, needlepointed by her mother. A childhood “flashbulb” memory of mine is being sick one Christmas morning and lying on the couch to open a gift my from the same woman, my beloved aunt and godmother, Lulla.  A handmade and embroidered felt (or maybe boiled wool) hat — red with a whimsical design.  Just beautiful.

Earlier this week, these memories and more came flooding back when I pulled a cardboard box out of the attic crawlspace as I sought the uninsulated source of the ice dams that had formed on the roof. Inside were skeins of yarn, bags of needlepoint projects, knitting needles, and patterns.

cardboard box of yarn stash

I know these treasures are more than 22 years old because most had belonged to dear Lulla, who died in 1988. Seeing these unfinished projects brought her back in a tangible, visceral way. I could imagine her carrying the “Kabuki-inspired” needlepoint handbag that’s 80% completed.  The colors — oranges, pinks — were her colors.

partially finished needlepoint handbag

Notes on the Aran sweater pattern (in her distinctive handwriting that I haven’t seen in so long)  indicated that her friend Janice would have been the lucky recipient.

fromt section of Aran sweater & pattern

Stuffed into a plastic bag along with a small box of needlepoint yarn was a project that gave me a shiver. Lulla had started a sign, destined to be framed and hung in my mother Nancy’s kitchen, I’m sure.  These two remarkable women — insightful, gutsy, politically active, funny, loving, strong, and intelligent — also shared a disdain for housework.  “Dull women have immaculate homes” proclaims a sign in my mother’s apartment.  As the attic stash proves,  Lulla had been planning to reinforce the message.

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