Sunday, January 15, 2012

Doing Double Time on Sleeve Island

My Silk Garden pullover has grown into a lovely rectangle of both front and back:

I'm now on the sleeves. I've already had to knit the first one twice, what fun. The pattern is an old Paton's design featuring the snug ribbing at the bottom and cuffs, once so popular. To tweak this design feature, I just cast on the correct number of stitches to start for the body. For the cuffs, I wanted a bit of pull in. My first attempt was too snug through the forearm, so I ripped and re-knit. It hurt, but I'm much happier with the result and I think it was worth the effort. I want to love and wear this sweater for a long time to come.

And speaking of loving for a long time to come....

My mother-in-law, who is 87, feels herself to be fading. Moving to a new apartment from her beloved house has taken a lot out of her and she's been feeling blue. Knitting teddy bears has helped. So have her family who are all rallying around her. Her grandson Evan calls from out west on Monday nights. Granddaughter Stephanie brings great-granddaughter Samantha to visit on Thursday nights. Jim and I come over on Saturday nights for a visit.

On these visits we share news, she shows us her momentos, the latest teddy bear and she makes these little requests of us. A special purchase to make, or a thing to look up. Well, a couple of weeks ago came a big request: "Laurie, would you knit me a sweater?"

Oh! this was not the easy yes I wished it could be. For one, she wants acrylic. For another, I've already got a queue of knitting lined up that it would hurt to give up.

I asked if she could wait till next year and she replied that she didn't know if she'd be around next year.

Now gentle reader, please remember that I love my mother-in-law very much, but I couldn't help but laugh at this one! All that work to knit her a sweater and she won't be around to wear it!

So, upon the wise advice of Paula, I offered to knit a sweater together with her. If she could work the plain knitting sections, no shaping, I'd work all the shaping and finishing parts. She tried to wiggle out of it. "Oh, my eye sight isn't so good." "But I knit so slow." But I persisted and last night brought her the yarn.

She was very pleased. She liked the feel of it, she liked the color. We measured up a favourite sweater, she picked a design (v-neck cardigan with a zip) and I wrote out some simple instructions. Just gauge and how many stitches to cast on for the back. And wouldn't you know it, just like any knitter with an exciting new project before her, she cast on that night. Yes!

Here's my hope for this sweater:
  • that it gives her something interesting to take her mind off her troubles
  • that she enjoys a feeling of pride in making a garment for herself
  • that she feels a sense of connection and being loved because we are working it together
  • that she'll be around to wear it for a long time to come
But you know, after I finish the sleeves of my pullover I've got to work the sleeves of her sweater. In acrylic. Yeah, that's why I say I'll be doing double time on sleeve island.


  1. Clearly this is an occasion for bribery. As in, you are going to need to bribe yourself! Perhaps the promise of a substantial wool purchase for each acrylic sleeve completed, and maybe some nice sock yarn for the shaping and zipper installation? :-)

  2. What you're doing for your MIL is wonderful! I don't think you'll hate working with the acrylic yarn either. It's not as bad as people think. There are some acrylics I absolutely love working with, like Berroco's Vintage. Feels so good on the hands and easy to work with. Although I've not actually worked with Marble before, I know a few who have and they say it's great.

  3. I think that is great you are working on a project together! Looking forward to pics of your finished sweater.

  4. Love the color of your Silk Garden sweater. You are a great DIL. I hope this project lifts your MIL's spirits.

  5. SUch a aheart-warming story, Laurie. And of all the acrylic yarns out there, Marble is one of the better ones.

  6. I think your sweater is lovely and I think what you are doing with/for MIL is even lovelier. What a great way to go about it.

  7. Wow - a "team effort" on several fronts (sleeves)! What a great idea to engage your MIL in her sweater project!! LOVE your Silk Garden, too...