sock porn for knitting voyeurs.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

more than lizard ridge

My grandma was a Knitter. Some may hem and haw if they can add that kapital K to their knitterly designation, but not gma. She's so Knitta that she wouldn't even think about it-- she just was. Every year everyone in my family (adults on up) would receive a handknit afghan from her. When I say afghan I mean it-- a queen sized bed afghan, usually knit in very very long strips and pieced together over the long folding leg table in the "dining room" (always draped with a rotation of cheery flannel backed plastic tablecloths, to which i spent quite a bit of time peeling apart under the table when sitting there -- but was never ever chastised for doing so.) There's this single moment I have in my memory, standing in the second/bottom floor of the five and dime in the run-down mall, my gma having me hold armfuls of yarn as she lifted and inspected each from the black vinylcoated wire display bin. "Why are you looking at those?" when she inspected each, turning them in her tiny hands. "To make sure the numbers match."

With that, she didn't teach me to knit. It wasn't for lack on her part, my sister sat at that dining table in front of the floor-to-ceiling window facing the olive tree in the backyard, learning knit and purl by natural light... the sun diffused by the "do it yourself" window tint coating on the window-- scratched and bubbling, a bit "wrong" where birds made their final flight into it. I greatly preferred watching westerns or Tora! Tora! Tora! with my grandpa instead, the tomboy in me cringing at the idea of craft. Every Sunday was spent with them (my father's day for visitation, but he worked graveyard and was often half or full on asleep on the couch these days, exausted from the night before and night ahead)... plenty of opportunities missed and caught.

With all that in my brain, I set out making the Lizard Ridge afghan for my grandma.

LR1
Lizard Ridge afghan
Fall Knitty, 2006
Started: October 11, 2006
Noro Kureyon color 116 Lot E
US 8 (5mm)
[just about 2 balls worth of Kureyon pictured-- about 2.5 "squares" worth]

When I decided to knit for my family, I knew I had to knit my gma an afghan. Not only because she was the only recipient who would actually, totally "get" the work that went into these projects... but because I'm ashamed and each stitch is a personal, silent atonement for me. I won't tell her this, but the anonymity of the internet lets me share this with yall... I threw away two of her afghans. I wish I could say with an honest heart it was because it was in the wake of cleaning out my closets from my college boyfriend who stomped on my heart and left me a shell, I really do. I can't. Bags and bags of things went to Goodwill and in them went those afghans I'd taken from my childhood home when I moved to go to school... I remember standing there over the bags of clothing and registering their weight with my arms (they were so big they filled my arms), trying to decide thru my own selfish tears and suddenly I shoved them in and I haven't seen them since. I just did it.

I'm ashamed. With clarity I see Sunday nights, gma sitting there at my grandfather's side at the end of the day after cooking and cleaning and errands and everything she did without a sound, clicking away on aluminum straights and miles and miles of dyelotted acrylic already knit in her lap for those afghans. I remember the seaming, the perfection it took. I remember how nonchalant she was about it, never boasting and never defining herself as a Knitter (she sewed, she crocheted, she gardened... she wasn't defined by one thing in my eyes except by being my grandma-- just what she was.) But even then, giving them away, I felt an inkling of wrong doing it.

It is almost overwhelming now, knowing what I know.

So if I seem a little manic about these holiday gifts, its because I *have* to finish Lizard Ridge for her (and the other ancillary gifts for my family, but this is really The One.)

LR2

I'm using only one colorway instead of seperate colors for the afghan, color 116. I was lucky to run into a 50% sale at Little Knits for it, I picked up 22 balls. This is my first time using Kureyon and I like it-- its just fascinating. I'd love to try spinning something like this, long non-patterned color runs.

I'm using 2 balls at once, instead of knitting from the inside and the outside of one ball. My LR is going to be a little different from everyone else's, can you tell? Another hint...

LR3

Instead of knitting the entire afghan in stockinette, I am knitting the non-short row portions in garter stitch (knitting every row). So, rows 1-3 garter, row 4 as written, rows 5-9 garter, row 10 as written, rows 11-12 garter. I really enjoy the texture of it, and also the delineation generally and specifically-- since I'm "only" using one colorway, and it is darkish-muted, the garter ridges are going to help seperate the color changes more readily.

The pictures show just about 2 balls worth of Kureyon-- about 2.5 "squares" worth. I'm also knitting it in long uninterrupted strips instead of squares, so I'll only have 4 strips to piece together. I think I'll be knitting this in the "background" of other projects, but perhaps not... even though I have other projects planned for the holiday, I haven't cast on for any others yet. I have finished the New Vintage Capelet in Noro Silk Garden though...

SGcape
New Vintage Capelet, blocking
Noro Silk Garden, color 224 lot a

More pics when I get a brooch to secure it with. The Silk Garden did block to a much softer, drapier fabric, though I haven't taken it off the pins since wet blocking it to really see how much difference yet.

Thanks for listening, have a great weekend :)

42 comments:

.: tani :. said...

i totally feel your pain. (although it sounds like your grandmother would understand now...and probably appreciate that you 'get it' now). i recieved an afghan for my graduation some odd years ago. i thought it was awful. now i wish i had kept it. now what is it they say about hindsight...? the afgan is beautiful, by the way. she will love it.

Alyssa said...

That is going to be one gorgeous afghan. I'm sure she'll love it.

insaknitty said...

oh! your story almost made me cry... I know your grandma is going to love this afghan, though. :) it's obviously knit with much love. :)

rose said...

What an amazing gift for your grandmother. She sounds a bit like mine. I still have 2 of my grandmother's afghans, and I wish she was still alive for me to knit her one in return.
I love the colors you're using, and I think your garter stitch adaptation is a good one.

Mandy said...

What a beautiful, sad and touching story about your grandma. The afghans she made for you probably found a good home somewhere. I sometimes wonder what will become of all the handknit things I give away, especially to non-knitters.

hillary said...

the afghan is beautiful and I'm sure your grandmother will love it.
I totally feel what you said about your grandma. I've always been crafty but, as a kid I totally shunned all things domestic. That included knitting. When my grandma passed away I inherited her knitting stuff and learned to knit to honor her memory. I still have most of the things she knit for me and they are family treasures.

Liz K. said...

You are atoning, one stitch at a time. What a thoughtful gift.

Dave said...

That is going to be one beautiful afghan. I love the subtle colours you've chosen, and the garter ridges are a very nice touch. I'm sure your gma will love it with all the appreciation it deserves, but will even more appreciate the fact that you've followed her footsteps into the fiber arts. She will understand.

lexa said...

I know what you mean. I had my a bunch of my grandmother's pattern books. I can't find them now. (Got a feeling when I still lived at home my Pa threw them out on a cleaning binge.) She used to make me doll clothes, tho I too was a tomboy and preferred dinky cars and lego. Ma found some of the old doll clothes she made me at her house back in the spring, and I washed them up and have them in my closet. She was knitting me a yellow sweater when she died (when I was in grade 5). There wasn't enough yarn to finish it, and my aunt couldn't match it up, so I never got it. I still have the old needles she mailed to me to get me started, the end of one is really chowdered badly. She also had pink and purple yarn in with the needles. (She had been down a few days prior and saw me trying to knit with pointed sticks! I was about 10 - my mother doesn't knit.) Couple of days later, there was my kit!

Anonymous said...

Wow! A very touching story and! a gorgeous project in the works. Your "gma" will love it, bc she knows how much you will have put into it. And maybe you tossed her afghans but wow! you have beautiful memories and more to come - of her. Terry

Kaitie Tee said...

Your grandma will be thrilled, I'm sure! I know what you mean though about the guilt. A few weeks ago I broke a piece of Beleek china my grandma gave me. It was an accident and I still feel guilty.

Jennifer said...

It's stunning. I think you are making up for the afghan dumping by this work of lovliness. I like the mods you're doing too.

JennyRaye said...

What an amazing gift you are making for your gma. I'm sure she will love it.

I have a similar story with my great-grandmother--the only other real crafter in the family. All three of my kids have slept under the afghan she made for my children before I was even married. I however, felted one of the few afghans she crocheted from wool yarn, not acrylic. Still makes me sad to think of it, especially now that I KNOW what I did.

brooke t. higgins said...

That black Noro colorway has got to be my favorite ever. I found a measly THREE balls of it and bought all three without a clue what to make with it, but I had to have it. I ended up with a great little felted bag and couldn't be happier. It's gorgeous. Your grandma's afghan is going to be amazing. The best to you!

Elizabeth said...

Aww I did the same thing with a couple of crocheted acrylic afghans. Sometimes you just have to let go. Very sweet of you to make your gma her own. It makes a great story.

Kirsten said...

That afghan for your grandma is going to be beautiful. Your grandma will be thrilled, I'm sure.

Paisley said...

how stunning is that Noro colourway! Atonement will definitely be achieved.

joy said...

What a touching story; I'm sure your grandma would love love love your afghan. It's gorgeous with the 'one' color!

yahaira said...

if you only finish one gift this year, THIS has to be the one... it's gorgeous and your grandma will treasure it. not only for its beauty but also for the love you're putting into it.

now get knitting!

yahaira said...

if you only finish one gift this year, THIS has to be the one... it's gorgeous and your grandma will treasure it. not only for its beauty but also for the love you're putting into it.

now get knitting!

Chris said...

Ok, I can already tell that your Lizard Ridge is going to be my favorite - very cool!

Bethany said...

Your afghan is going to be gorgeous. Already is. Your gramma is going to love it. If it's any consolation, maybe those afghans you gave away are keeping someone else warm now.

Acornbud said...

Thanks for sharing your great story. You have such wonderful memories. Your afghan is sure going to look terrific in Noro.

Jeanne said...

Your GMA is going to love the afghan - its beautiful! I did the same thing - my mother made me beautiful sweaters that I eventually gave to Goodwill before I was a knitter...now I wish I could get them all back.

Karen said...

What a wonderful story. I'm sure you gma will love her LR afghan, it's gorgeous. I still snuggle under the acrylic afghans my mom made (I don't think I will ever part with them).

Cynthia said...

Aija you are so creative; I love your version of the LR - it is going to dynamite - your variations are also very good. Your grandma will love it and I am looking forward to seeing this version finished! Your story is touching; it's amazing how much can be behind one knitted object that no one would ever know unless we are told about it.

kelp! said...

What a great story - I'm sure your gramdmother will love it! I dig the idea of a single-colorway lizard ridge.

Monica said...

The garter ridges are a nice contrast. I'm sure your grandmother understands, and I'm sure she will love the afghan and appreciate the thought you put into each stitch.

DebbieKnitter said...

You just did your gma proud!! the very post and the very tug at your heart has made it's way to redeem your "tossing of the afghan". A little secret...she probably understands EXACTLY what you felt then and what you feel now because chances are...and my own mother attests to this, *whispering* she is harboring a similar secret ;)
The very fact that you EVER picked up needles was your gift of love given back to her and I know and so will she that every knit stitch, every purl stitch, and every end you weave in has given your her the best possible gift ever...your appreciation of not only her but love for the "craft" I have to say, THIS will be the project I will follow on the most for the Holidays and I will cheer you one every stitch of the way!

Rhonda said...

You gma will feel so much more when she receives an afghan knit by YOU ... she'll totally cherish it. My gramma knit slippers & mittens ... long worn out and gone now. (I'm 57) But that's what they were for ... to be worn out and I'm sure the afghans were meant for heavy use when given to the young people in your gma's life. I'll be surprised if my grandchildren still have the ones I crocheted for them by the time they leave home! Just know that they kept somebody warm when you gave them away. And the gift you give her will keep her warm inside & out.

Bridget said...

ah, the callousness of youth. I'm sure most of us have made that kind of mistake. Thankfully we learn from them. I'm sure your grandma will love and appreaciate your gift. I think the colors you are using are beautiful.

Becka - The Knitting Wounded said...

I have always fought my mothers inclination towards being a pack-rat, but I'll admit to sending quite a few things to Goodwill that I regret and will never bring up at a family gathering. Sometimes knitting is an atonement, but at least you're having fun doing it too. I'm sure your grandmother will love the afghan.

aquaknits said...

What a great story! I just know your Grandma will love the Lizard, and I can't wait to see how all the changes you're making adds to it's specialness.

Isn't it funny how as young tomboys we place the men in our lives in such high regard? I was a huge grandpa hanger-on too, and only now that I'm older can really appreciate all those little lessons my grandmother tried so hard to impress on me.

Tina in Wonderland said...

Your Grandma is gonna love that afghan! It looks beautiful so far!

No worry too much over tossing those two afghans. Everybody makes mistakes, and now you'll appreciate her handmade things all the more.

miss ewe said...

Your LR is gorgeous, and your grandma will love it.

(and I can't believe you got Kureyon at 50% off!!!)

HPNY Knits said...

Noro colors are always great, but you elevated it to an art form!! its absolutely fab! I love the way it falls together.
We had to give away many items my gma had knit over the years for my gpa when he died. it was sad, but it did not fit anyone in the family. at least we knew someone in need had received an item made with love.

gray la gran said...

oooh, i really like the garter ridges! that's a great idea for the monochromatic colorway.

Zonda said...

Oh that is going to become one awesome afghan! I love the colors and how you are adapting it to using only that color! Looking great so far!

Deb aka Fearless Fibers said...

What a beautiful gift for your grandmother! I'm sure she would easily forgive you for your youthful non-knitter's error. When you give her that afghan and see the joy it will surely bring to her, I hope that you will also forgive yourself. We've all done something similar we regret, but few of us take the time to do something so wonderful to make up for it!

Stacey said...

I think gma will understand and truly love all the work and emotion that is going into Lizard Ridge. Hopefully her afgans are warming some deserving family....

(I really like the mods you made to it - the one color is really stunning)

b1-66er said...

a couple of things here:

one is you didn't, as you actually say, "throw them away." you gave them to good will. the difference here is that between someone who needs, wants and can't afford, versus a nesting habitat for vermin in a smelly place.

so what you said sounds impressive, but actually isn't true.

second, think of the kind of people who frequent goodwill. almost exclusively they are either:

* the indigent

* college students

* seekers of the super-funky

now consider each of those categories. yes, your g'ma made that afgan for you, but if you don't like/need/want/use it, it belongs with someone who does.

there must be battleships full of crap in the world (concentrated, i suspect, in the u.s.) that are being kept and held in drawers, unused for decades, because people think it's the "right thing to do," when i would argue (obviously) that it's better off being in the hands of someone who wants, needs and loves it.

i absolutely believe that knitting and quilting are two of the largest labors of true love that one person can do for another. BUT if you receive something that you don't like or use, giving the item to charity doesn't *decrease* the love of the item -- if anything, it increases it ... because it shows that you're willing to let it go along to someone who would use it.

if you ever get the nerve, ask your g'ma. "hey, which do you think is better? someone keeping a handmade present of yours, and never using it, or giving it to charity so it is?" if you're too afraid that the carbon stain of this question will come back and blacken you, apply it to yourself say, "hey, i gave my socks to _whatever_makes_a_good_story_ and they never wore them so they gave them to charity. is that an okay thing?"

of course, if you ask that, you better bring a bottle of pepto bismol with you incase things don't go "as planned."

but one thing is clear -- you will win in the love sweepstakes because:

* you value the things she does more.

- & -

* she will dig your afgan at least two times. if she's a weeper type, there's gonna be a few tears.

never forget: the world always evens out, it just does it in very odd ways sometimes.

Jerry & Maxy said...

I SO want to knit Lizard Ridge - and I love yours!

I'm finally catching up on your blog - your spinning is amazing!

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