Friday, April 01, 2005

The Pink Sweater

My mother-in-law is neither a knitter nor a crocheter. Her talent lies in "fixing" things. She can repair, resurrect, and/or reinvent almost anything. For the last 20 years she has made her living selling items she has repaired or refinished. Pretty darn good for a woman of 86.

I do not have this talent. If I can't fix it with duct tape, glue or a swift hammer strike it goes into the Goodwill pile.

In my infinite wisdom and the conceit of youth, I thought I had her completely figured out. She's the fixer; I'm the creator. She has to keep moving; I'm happy sitting with my knitting in front of a good movie. Then the sweater appeared, dug out from some hidden box. It was a peachy-pink cardigan done in 4 x 4 rib with a row of mother-of-pearl buttons.

"Wow, what a neat sweater!" I said. "Where did you get it?"
"I made this when I was first married." she answered. "My mother-in-law Louisa showed me how."
Here was a topic I could sink my teeth into: family history! "Really? How long did it take you?"
"Two weeks."
I was stunned. "Did you have a pattern?"
"No, I just kept knitting. Louisa would guide me at points and I just did what she told me to do and then it was done."

Then the stories started coming out. Louisa was a prolific knitter and crocheter. She was never without a small piece of tatting to work on. When MIL and her husband were first married in 1943, she and Louisa sat in the house in Vancouver and did nothing but knit. Apparently this gave them something in common.

So far as I can tell, this is the only thing my MIL has ever knit. Louisa died around 1948. I have no idea what happened to Louisa's knitting and crocheting supplies. They probably went into one of MIL's yearly yard sales.

But she saved the sweater.

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