Monday, May 12, 2008

Proud Son

Yesterday was Mother's Day, and all across the country mothers were getting things–flowers, cards, telephone calls–from their children. My own, dear mother deserves her own island in the Caribbean, a pony and a chocolate fountain; but since I didn't want to embarrass her with extravagance I just sent flowers.

She sent me something, too, and I want to share it with you.

First, a bit of background.

Mom and one-day-old Susan.
Susan just celebrated her own first Mother's Day.

My mother is a can-do sort of woman. If she wants to excel at something, she will. She did not, for example, learn to sew at her mother's knee. As a young wife, she decided sewing would be a useful skill. She got a sewing machine, took a class, and turned into the second coming of Betsy Ross. We reveled in an abundance of expertly hand-sewn clothes, gorgeous Halloween costumes, perfectly tailored school uniforms and matching family Christmas pajamas.

She also learned from a friend how to knit. Aside from an occasional afghan, however, this was a skill that lay dormant for years. The first time I ever saw her do it was Christmas 2005, when our incessant chatter about the joys of yarnplay persuaded her to join the fun. Her powers of recall were startling. We gave her a pair of needles and a gentle nudge, and soon she'd turned out several very nice scarves and a few patterned washcloths.

Then she decided it was time to try a shaped garment. She picked a doozy–Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket. In case you've been knitting in a cave, the Baby Surprise Jacket (which you can find in The Opinionated Knitter and Knitting Workshop) is a little cardigan sweater that's knit as one flat piece, folded up like origami and seamed at the shoulders. It's a classic pattern and a fun project, but not always an easy knit for a beginner.

My mother, however, does not care about easy. She wanted to knit the jacket. She got the yarn, the needles, the pattern and Meg Swansen's instructional DVD, and off she went. And look at this.

Mom's BSJ

Not only did she finish, she worked in a bunch of Meg's fine details including paired increases and decreases, a collar, and a cast off that eliminates the little dog-ear at the very end.

Mom's BSJ - Collar

I'm choking up just looking at that. How you've grown, mother darling. There's a Rogue Hoodie in your future. I just know it.


Donna Lee said...

My mother was not crafty either and if I wanted to learn a craft, I got some books, some Internet sites and just plowed forward. It's what women do. I can sew (made my wedding gown and all my children's hallowe'en costumes and prom dresses) and crochet and knit. I'm still a beginner knitter but I am learning more every day. Way to go Mom! Beautiful jacket.

KellyD said...

Don't Moms rock? Mine continues to work as an RN pre/post op. Full-time. The younger RNs cant keep up with her. Shes 74 and this is her 50th year of nursing.
These Moms. They blow my mind.

Laura Sue said...

Looks like her son got that "can do" attitude, as well. I am truly going to the do the lace sampler you suggested--you know, that lace-knitting skill builder that you figured out and did all on your own? Mom's own, I'd say!

anne marie in philly said...

yea, franklin's mom! gorgeous BSJ!

I purchased that DVD this year; unfortunately, my first BSJ was a dud (I must have lost count along the sucked on toast). I am now trying a second jacket with better results.

hope susan also had a good mother's day with the ENA!

Joe said...

Years ago, I think you said your mother complimented my zipper it means even more.

I love that she made such lovely deep colors for a child. No wonder you weren't embarrassed, but thrilled that she made things for you.

Alwen said...

Don't you just get a lump in your throat when they take the bit in their teeth and gallop forwards like that?

Rosi G. said...

You SHOULD be proud of your mom! She's a fast learner.

And to think: she learned to sew in the 80s when everyone was out partying!! She must've set an example for many.


Kristen said...

My mom was very crafty growing up. Made her own wedding dress, etc. She continued into adulthood. She still uses her Kenmore sewing machine. It took me a long time to convince her she had actual talent, though. She just looked on it as something all mothers did, though they didn't! So, here's to Franklin's Mom and all crafty mothers!

FiberQat said...

What a joy to know that your mom was inspired by your knitting to pick it up again.

StringPlay said...

Applause for your Mother. I always enjoy your blog. Looking forward to Piecework and your book.

Linda said...

Oh, Franklin, your Mom is the root whence springeth such a learned knitter, one who teaches by example. I do hope to one day knit a BSJ in that accomplished (by dint of studious application) vein, thanks to all the visual input.

Eldronius said... darlin'.

Sean said...

that brought such a smile to my face. Thanks!

no-blog-rachel said...

Yay Franklin & Sue's Mom! I'm impressed.

My mom taught me how to sew and knit but she'd only learned how because she thought she was supposed to - I think she really disliked both. She had the same sweater in her knitting bag my entire childhood. Burnt-orange scratchy wool on size 2 straights. Can you blame her?

Karin said...

What a great Mother's Day post, Franklin. Your mom is something else. Nice to hear about the tree from the apple.

Terri said...

I can see that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Good job!

Knitting Painter Woman said...

Proud Mother, I assume, too. I'm always happy when somebody has "good Mom" stories. (And your lavish ideas for mother's day are divinely inspired, I'm sure!!)

Kathy Merrick said...

Nice mom, Franklin!
Her dress is pretty.

Joe's epitaph is going to read, "Famous Franklin's Famous Mom liked the way I sewed zippers".

Deborah C. said...

Tell your mom she is awesome.

Sock Knitter said...

Like Mother -- Like Son -- AWESOMENESS abounds in the Habit home :)

I LOVE what she did with the BSJ -- I LOVE those additions, and I am thrilled that I have that DVD in my hands for when I am ready to cast on that adorable little jacket.

goblinbox said...

Which baby is going to receive that wonderful thing?

Imbrium said...

That's awesome. I want to be your mom when I grow up. (Alas, it is not to be. I'm too busy becoming my mother. Which is good, too, don't get me wrong.)

DianeS said...

Your Mom is a force to be reckoned with (as are her children)!

Captain said...

I would like to see a photo of you and your sister rockin' around the Christmas tree in your matching mom-sewn jammies. I'm trying to guess whether the pjs were plaid, or looked like little Santa outfits, or what.

I don't expect you to actually put up such a photo. (I'm just saying this to myself so I won't be mortally wounded when my wish does not come true.)

Dutch Jan said...

Do you have a picture from yourself wearing the BSJ or some other little cute baby picture (naked on a little handknitted soft babyblanket? :-)
Your mother has made a big influence on you I think being straithforward as you are with all your creativce and artictic work.

Roxie said...

Way to go! Prasie and laurels for Mom. And a fully-staffed mansion, too.

Anonymous said...

Your mom is an inspiration. I've knit constantly for eons and have just got around to the BSJ. It's looking good--if you wear shades, as its in sherbert-y stripes. It is a project that requires constant attention or the origami jacket can become an origami pickup truck. Now she's inspired me to clean up my neglected sewing corner.

Best wishes to MOM and all of her fortunate family!


Bronchitkat said...

My Mum taught me to knit & sew too, for which I've been eternally grateful having such long arms & legs as I do.

& knitting has helped preserve my sanity more than once. Though maybe that BSJ . . .

Yay for your Mom.

Ivyleaves said...

Oooh, Susan now looks just like your mom then. My mom was another sewer of all kid's clothes. I did my own when I got old enough. My aunt was the knitter, but I rebelled and did crochet only, until my 50's. It's fun to keep on learning and making stuff.

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