I’ve discovered that some of the most banal items in life are special to me. That’s the beauty of things; they don’t need to be beautiful to be beautiful to me. It’s the same with people, really. They can occupy a special place in my day-to-day or in my heart, and that makes them beautiful in my eyes.
Perhaps you have a hand-knit that reminds you of the time and place you made it, and it ties you back to the story of your life. Maybe you think about that difficult autumn after the loss of your father, when you knit the blanket that’s carefully folded over your couch today. Maybe you remember those last calm afternoons spent knitting a tiny bonnet, while waiting for the baby who joined your family and tipped out all the organized pieces of your life into a wonderful jumble on the floor. Of course, the bonnet no longer fits the baby who has grown into a teenager now, but that tiny, soft piece of knit fabric ties you to who you were, back then. And it is beautiful.
What is an heirloom, to you?
Do you knit something with the hope that through your love – and through that woolly hat, shawl or blanket’s use – it will gradually acquire the status of ‘heirloom’ to you or to the person who takes it up and uses it?
I don’t personally hold such lofty ambitions for my knits. Once they leave my hands, I let them go. In fact, I often forget all about them. I’m always in such a hurry to get started on the next design! But of course, when a knit turns out to be especially well loved, I am truly delighted.
While I was designing patterns for our cable collection, Lazy Sunday, the idea of well-loved and timeless knits turned over and over again in my mind, like a dog whirling round and round, trying to find that ‘sweet spot’ to rest its weary bones. In the end, I came to the conclusion that what constitutes an heirloom is just too intensely personal to be designed for. It will be different for you than it is for me. All the same, there are a few pieces from the collection that seem likely, to me, to become heirlooms in my own eyes.
After Alexa and I knit SO MANY SAMPLES and FINALLY finished the Lazy Sunday cable collection, Alexa’s daughter Hunter asked her to knit a Nest sweater for her. Now, a request from an 11-year-old is the ultimate compliment, so naturally Alexa dropped everything and cast on immediately! If nothing else, this knit will hold special memories for Alexa, too.
In the end, I think we can only knit, enjoying the process and hoping for the best when it comes to the result. There’s no way to ‘make’ an heirloom, except to find things that we love – things that hold meaning to us – and hold on to them, enjoying them over the days, months, and years that follow.