68: Knit One, Purl Two

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom

Knit One, Purl Two

Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall;

A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.

~Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Knit one, purl two. You’re doing great!” I heard my mom say in a soft, gentle voice. I was in the kitchen as I listened to my mom instruct a neighbor’s young daughter, Yolanda, on how to knit a scarf. I peered around the corner to catch a glimpse of the two of them talking over a huge ball of red yarn. Yolanda looked so interested and smiled often as my mother helped her along. Mom was so patient. I was about fourteen at the time, and the furthest thing from my mind was learning how to knit or crochet. “Come on over and sit with us,” my mother encouraged me.

My answer was always the same, “I’m busy.” I was a teen after all, and I had better things to do. I had friends to call, music to listen to, and boys to daydream about. Why would I want to learn how to knit?

Our tiny apartment was always filled with brightly colored yarn, knitting needles, and crochet hooks. Our sofa was piled with unfinished knitting and crochet projects. Quilts, hats, scarves, sweaters and slippers were stacked high. When a project was completed, my mother would give it away to anyone who asked, or she would surprise friends with a warm quilt or sweater. Back then, although I loved her work and was in awe of her talent and kindness, I would never wear one of the sweaters. Being a teen, I thought they weren’t fashionable or “cool enough.” My mom would laugh with a gleam in her eye and say, “One day, you will wear one of these sweaters!”

In my early twenties, I got engaged. My mother surprised me with an engagement party. When it was time to open all the gifts, I noticed one huge box that was left toward the back of the room. I received the usual gifts every young bride-to-be would want. I got a coffee maker, dishes, and a blender that had been on my wish list. Lastly, I opened the huge box, a gift from my mother. I couldn’t imagine what it could be. As I lifted the box top, I could see multi-colored patterns through the white tissue paper. Lifting the paper, I saw she had crocheted a granny-square quilt to fit the queen-sized bed my husband-to-be and I had planned to buy. “Don’t unfold it now!” my mom insisted. “I had a hard time fitting it into that box.”

After the party, we brought all the gifts to my future mother-inlaw’s house. Her house had a lot more space than my apartment. We would keep the gifts there until after we got married and had our own apartment. The next summer, we said our “I do’s” and settled into our apartment. I stored the big box that contained the quilt my mother made in our closet to use once the cooler weather arrived.

One chilly November evening, I unfurled the quilt and something fell to the floor. Looking down, I saw something bright purple. When I picked it up, I let out a roaring laugh. “Oh mom, you’re crazy!” I laughed even harder. In my hands was the most colorful purple cardigan sweater I had ever seen. I called her up as fast as my fingers could dial. We laughed until we almost cried about her prank.

“I knew you’d get a kick out of that color!” my mom said between giggles.

That night, I hung my purple sweater in the closet. It certainly was a bright spot against all my dark clothing.

A few years passed.

When I had my daughters, my mother lovingly crocheted each baby a coming-home blanket, sweater set, bonnet and booties. “I’m glad they’re not bright purple,” I joked each time.

“Don’t tempt me!” she shot back, laughing.

When my youngest daughter was just a few months old, my mom came for a weekend visit. She brought a few skeins of yarn, along with crochet hooks and knitting needles. While the girls went down for a nap, my mom asked, “Are you ready to learn how to knit or crochet now?”

I was ready. In the middle of the afternoon, my mom taught me to knit. “Knit one, purl two,” she said, as she showed me the simple technique. It brought me back to the time many years prior when I was a teen and watched her teach Yolanda. She had the same gentle voice and patience as she had back then. I had a newfound hobby: knitting.

Not long after I learned to knit, I settled down one cool night to knit a scarf for my three-year-old daughter, Heather.

I went upstairs to get a blanket from the closet, but the purple sweater caught my eye instead. Why not? I thought to myself. It was the first time that I put it on. It fit perfectly, and was so soft and warm. Most of all, it was cozy.

That night, I called my mom. “You’re not going to believe this, but I wore the purple sweater while knitting!” That made two things I thought I would never do—knit and wear that sweater!

“See, I told you that one day you would wear one of my sweaters!” We both had a good laugh at that.

My mom passed away a few years later. I still have the sweater. Whenever I wear it on cool nights, I feel like I’m getting a warm hug from her. I look down at the bright purple that has hardly faded with time, and I can’t help but smile.

~Dorann Weber

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