The Real McCoy: A Handknit Sweater

handknit sweater

handknit sweaterMy grandmother would be tickled pink if she could see me now. My mother’s mother used to knit me sweaters when I was growing up. She said that it kept her hands busy and helped relieve her worsening arthritis. This morning, I spotted one of the sweaters sitting in a pile of sweaters that I mean to, but never wear. It must be over 25 years old now. I have to admit there are a number of them that I have kept because I couldn’t bear to throw them away. They are the real McCoy! A handknit sweater made by my grandmother, Nana.

They are a piece of her and a piece of history.

In reality, I didn’t think I would ever wear any one of them again as styles have changed just a bit! But this one sweater was my very favorite. A natural-colored, cable knit traditional Scottish ‘fisherman’ sweater. It is extra special because it is the last sweater that she knit for me and it was a labour of love. handknit sweaterThis pattern is quite complicated and took a lot of time and attention. Very challenging for someone suffering from poor eyesight and painful arthritis.

The weather is colder now and I spend a lot of time in my basement on the computer working. It gets extra cold down there. In fact, my grandmother used to spend much time working in her basement and blames her arthritis on the cold and damp conditions. Maybe that is why I decided to try the sweater this morning?? We should listen to those older and wiser you know. I try to tell my daughter that on occasion. I usually just get a look. The sweater looks pretty good. In fact, my daughter said, “Nice sweater mom! Where did you get it?” she was quite surprised to learn that it was knit by her great-grandmother.

A handknit sweater

I have a couple of things to say about this sweater. First of all, I was amazed that I could wear this wool sweater outside, with just a scarf and no jacket. The natural wool and cable knit design really keeps you warm. Usually, I am bundled in polyester, nylon, or lots of bulk. Secondly, I felt quite impressed that I still fit into something that was made for a teenage body!! (Thank goodness it stretches where it needs to). And finally, I am so glad that I have something so special from my grandmother. She passed over 15 years ago and my kids can see and appreciate her talents today.

How often do you see someone knitting now? It used to be that kids were taught these skills by their parents or grandparents, but now they are taught how to get a great deal at the store on something that was likely made in China.

I think I will introduce knitting at Camp Heather next summer – 2012. It is a great pastime and making something yourself brings a feeling of great pride like no-other.

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