Traditional Patterns

20 Sep

I turned 30 last week. And, apparently, my advancing years are trying to kill me in more way than one. I spent most of the last week staring into the toilet bowl ready to give it all up.  However I did manage to drag my sorry butt to my little sister’s bridal shower this weekend.  Now, I hate the idea of bridal showers. Stupid games, crappy finger food and trying to sit demurely just aren’t my bag.  I feel like an enormous part of my brain is wired to reject these kinds of tradition.
But, here’s the thing, I had a really good time. I love seeing my sister so happy and radiant. I love spending time with my family. And despite my inclination to reject it, I feel the pull of tradition very strongly. Maybe this is the promised sentimentality that comes with age, but I am spending more time than ever in the shadow of history, especially in the history of the women of my family, and enjoying it.

My great-grandmother, like my grandma and my mom, was a knitter too. A very talented one. This lineage, and the feeling of connection that I get, is certainly part of what draws me to knitting myself. There is also a pull to the tradition of women’s art and craft that is challenging to articulate, but very real. It is at once a sense of enormity – how many hundreds of thousands of women before me kept their families warm through their knitting? – and intimate – a small and personal way to find a way to share something with the women that raised me.

When my great-grandmother passed away, she had a project still on her needles – a cardigan. She finished the front left panel shown here. It got lost in the shuffle of life for several years, but when my mom found it again she gave it to me. Now, this pattern is something I never would have picked up. Even the yarn isn’t really for me. But, I feel an incredible reverence for this project and am enjoying it very much. I finished the back piece this weekend and have started on the front right panel. I want to have it done in time to give it to my grandma for Christmas.

In addition to gray hairs, perhaps I can count on my old age to bring a sense of connection and perspective to the past. Pretty good present, huh?  Even though this week I’d settle for just a better immune system.

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2 Responses to “Traditional Patterns”

  1. Aleksandra September 29, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Darlings, this is such a beautiful post. I love the idea of you touching past generations with your knitting. I’ve always found it so old-fashioned and charming, but never thought of it in the way you express here.

    Didn’t know you were feeling under the weather lately. I hope it’s just a bug? Call sometime. We miss you dearly down here.

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