Wednesday, April 27, 2005
My Grandmother's Hands
I'm finishing the Amsterdam Scarf today.
The Amsterdam Scarf, which I knit in Chicago and did not finish in time to wear to Amsterdam, is made to match the London Beanie (which I knit in Chicago with Turkish yarn and wore in Amsterdam, and which has never been to London).
It is not to be confused with the Edo Scarf, which I knit in Amsterdam with yarn imported from London, and which I am wearing in Chicago.
Everybody clear? Good.
I decided to sew in the ends on the Amsterdam Scarf today during my commute. Our weather is pleasant this morning for a change, cool but sunny, and so I sat down on the train and pulled out the scarf and darning needle feeling very calm and unusually cheerful for 8 a.m.
The funniest thing happened. I threaded the first yarn end, and as I slipped the needle into the stitches suddenly my hands weren't my hands, they were my grandmother's hands.
My grandmother probably knows how to knit - she knows how to do everything useful and domestic - but her needlework forte is sewing. She sewed, mended, and altered clothes for herself and her family before marrying, supported her three children as a young widow by sewing, and still (in her mid-80s) takes in light alterations when her eyes permit.
When I close my eyes and picture her, she's always holding four or five straight pins in the corner of her mouth.
And as I sewed this morning, I realized that I bend my head, hold my work and move my needle in exactly the same way she does. I even purse my lips in the same way when I'm coming to the end of the thread.
She lives far away from me, in Pennsylvania, and I don't get to see her as much as I wish I could. But I never realized until this morning that I suppose there's a part of her that's always with me, and I suppose always will be.
Pictures of the finished Amsterdam Scarf tonight, unless the Neverending Pain in the Ass project I'm working on for the university kills me first. In which case, it's been nice knowing you, and please send my intarsia sweater to Jon or Tricky to be finished so I can be buried in it.