“Did you finish it?” my nephew Jonah asked me.
No further explanation was necessary. I knew what he wanted; he’d been asking the same question for months.
This time, though, instead of saying, “No, not yet,” I nodded and beckoned for him to follow me outside to my truck, where I dipped into the backseat and pulled out a red-white-and-blue knitted afghan.
Jonah, excitement flitting across his face, wrapped it around his shoulders and swooped back inside, as quick as Superman, to show the afghan to the rest of his family.
My nephew Max, standing nearby, asked, “Will you make me one too?”
I hesitated. It had taken me more than a year to knit Jonah’s afghan, and I was ready to move on to smaller projects. But how could I say no to Max’s request, his expression so serious and voice tentative?
“Of course,” I said, “What colors would you like?”
Soon another red-white-and blue afghan clung to my circular needles. The choice of colors reflected Max and Jonah’s shared love for American history, as well as Jonah’s interest in super heroes. Next came a blue afghan for my niece Kadance, the yarn perfect for an outdoorsy girl with energy as expansive and boundless as the sky.
In a sense, the blankets act as mirrors, a slice of my nieces’ and nephews’ personalities, perhaps even a form of storytelling, an approach to knitting I borrowed from my novella, Blood Stitches. In an early version of the book, the main character, Gabby, snuggles next to Abuela, grandmother in Spanish, as she knits. Together they interpret the yarn: green reflects the color of Gabby’s eyes, and specks of pink become tulips dotting a field. Gabby eventually learns that Abuela’s knitting has a deeper meaning with magical results.
On a smaller scale, it’s an idea that can add a touch of magic to anyone’s knitting, from beginners to experts, making each project unique and memorable and, particularly for children, a way to engage the imagination.
I hope one day my nieces and nephews will understand that the afghans I knit are reflections of them, our shared experiences woven together, memories, I pray, they’ll keep forever.
TIPS FOR BEGINNERS:
My goal is to make knitting fun—similar to a day spent with my nieces and nephews—so over the years I’ve learned the best way to accomplish that is through simplicity:
-to make up for the simple pattern, knit the afghan larger than the directions call for,
– knit with two strands of yarn at the same time to add durability and thickness,
-and always use circular needles, making large projects easier to handle, but don’t worry about the needle size, select whatever you prefer, a recommendation, I’m sure, that will cause advanced knitters to cringe.