Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Memories of My Knitting Idol

All of you probably have a knitting idol. Perhaps it’s the person who taught you to knit or a designer from whose patterns you continually learn new and interesting techniques. My knitting idol is my next-door neighbor, Maria.

When we moved to Salt Lake City almost two decades ago, Maria and her husband were the first to welcome us to the neighborhood. ?I discovered she was a knitter soon after my son was born. She appeared on my doorstep one afternoon with a beautifully wrapped present containing the most perfectly knitted baby sweater I’d ever seen. It was knit at an extremely fine gauge and the workmanship was flawless. She routinely entered items in the State Fair and always walked away with the blue ribbon. Being of Norwegian descent, she most loved to knit Norwegian-style sweaters. Her expert knitting skills were also well-recognized by everyone in the neighborhood and she was generous with her knitting. Nearly every year, she donated a hand knit baby sweater to at least one church auction and each fetched at least four times the amount of any other hand knit item.

My favorite knitting memory of Maria involves sock yarn, of course. One year, a LYS that I knew she didn’t frequent much began stocking some unique self-patterning sock yarn and providing a one-skein hat pattern that used the yarn. I bought several skeins and brought one, together with the hat pattern, to Maria’s house, thinking she’d be interested in knitting one for her granddaughter. In hindsight, she looked at me a bit quizzically when I handed it to her, but she accepted it graciously and with a big smile. The next afternoon, my telephone rang and it was Maria. "I finished that hat you asked me to knit," she said without skipping a beat. After a bit of hurried explaining on my part, we both laughed over the miscommunication. Each Christmas after that, my daughter was the recipient of a sock-yarn hat; and I’m sure Maria laughed as she knit each one.

Maria, my knitting idol, died last Tuesday after a long battle with cancer and was buried yesterday. I wore my Hyrna Herborgar shawl to her funeral because it was the last knitted thing I showed her. She sat in her chair holding the shawl, caressing the soft alpaca yarn with a small smile on her face.

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Running commentary on my unending quest to knit up my stash.