Saturday, July 30, 2005
The Argyle Sock
There are many reasons why I wish I could talk to my mother one more time. Every day I find myself wishing I could pick up the phone and share some silly piece of gossip or get her take on what's happening in this fractured world of ours. Lately, however, I've been wishing I could sit down with her and talk about The Argyle Sock.
I found the sock in her tiny sewing basket a few months after she died. The sock is perfect. I remember sitting on the edge of the bedand peering at the stitches through my tears. The construction of it was beyond me. All of those tiny stitches. Those toothpick-tiny double points. Little bobbins of thread-thin yarn. And the instruction booklet circa 1952! What treasures. The sock represented magic to me. A home kind of magic which is really the only kind that's important. Why hadn't I ever asked her to teach me how to use double points? Why did she drop sock-knitting? My father was just a few weeks away from his own end at that point and all he could remember was that he loved the homemade socks and wore out pair after pair of argyles. He seemed to remember commenting that the spots where she darned the heels gave him blisters and she tossed a ball of yarn in his general direction and quit sock-knitting then and there.
It wasn't until I ventured back into knitting in August 2003 that I began to look at The Argyle Sock with a critical--and more knowledgeable--eye. The cuff was done flat! Who knew? The red diagonal line was duplicate stitch! Wow! How did I miss that first time around? The rest is clearly circular knitting. What even stitches she created. I couldn't find a slip or mistake anywhere.
I always was awed by my mother's knitting, both her approach to it and the finished results. She wasn't a slave to patterns. If an improvement or design change occurred to her she gave it a shot. If it didn't work she ripped back and started all over again. No angst. No fears. (Meaning, not at all like her hyper daughter who lived in fear of public knitting humiliation.) I remember most clearly the gorgeous aran fisherman's cardigan she made for me when I was maybe nine or ten. It took her all summer and was ready to wear on the first day of school. I loved it so much I wore it despite the 80 degree weather that day! A big gorgeous ivory colored sweater with front patch pockets and bone buttons. I loved it more than any other article of clothing before or since and even incorporated it into some of my books along the way. (I guess that was my way of holding onto it even though it's long gone.)
The funny thing is I'm not sure I ever told her, really told her, how much I loved that sweater she made for me. She read the books with the references in them. She knew that I held every single item she ever knitted or crocheted or embroidered or hooked for me in the highest esteem. But did I ever tell her how I felt about that sweater? Did I ever tell her that I can still see it in front of me, feel the stitches beneath my fingers, all these years later?
I hope so.