Little old ladies who knit…


Growing up back home in Ireland, my mother would constantly be knitting – and I don’t mean goofy colored scarves or odd-sized mittens – no, she was hard core. She would knit for real. I can hardly remember seeing her sitting in the living room without a pair of knitting needles clicking away and a big ball of yarn unraveling on the floor as she worked. She would transform a simple thing into something beautiful… like art.

As a little kid I was often the recipient of her handiwork, and being the youngest in the family, I can recall being happy about having something to wear that I could truly claim as my own, and not another hand-me-down from one of my older brothers. The classic Aran wool sweater was a favorite pattern of hers, as I’m sure could be proven by taking a quick peek at the family photo album where Ronnie, John, Joan and I each at one point probably sported our own homemade woolen masterpiece. I genuinely believe though that it was me who benefitted most from my mother’s knitting – the fuzzy memories of a variety of colored woollen sweaters filling my limited pre-pubescent wardrobe still reverberate.

I don’t think it was until I got closer to my teenage years that I began to realize why my older siblings didn’t share my enthusiasm for wearing clothes that our mother had knitted. Not surprisingly, as my voice began to break and the world seemed to get a little more complicated, I too did not want to be seen dead in a big woolly jumper (western European for sweater) that had been made by my mother. Ah, teenage angst!

Fast forward a few decades and I now look back on those times with a much different lens. My mother passed away a few years ago before she even had a chance to meet Jack, and as the time seemingly flies by, I find that my memories of her are becoming more and more vague. A couple of old family photographs remain, but as much as I try, there doesn’t seem to be much else to hold onto. That was until Sam came wandering downstairs one morning during his college winter break wearing a big, hairy, woollen sweater.

I noticed it right away, admiring the workmanship and remarking how much it reminded me of the sweaters my mother used to knit. He laughed and told me it was one that Granny Miriam had made! Apparently, some twenty plus years ago, I had carried it with me from Ireland on one of my trans-atlantic trips, but over time it had somehow managed to become forgotten, working its way toward the back of a rarely-used closet. Sam had stumbled on it one day while rummaging through some old clothes, and with an intense appreciation of his Irish heritage, he knew immediately that he had struck gold.

I’m so glad that Sam uncovered something as precious and meaningful from our family past, and I’m even more happy that he wears it so proudly.