On the intersection of knitting, baseball, and writing

Finished! IMG_20150805_103757The afghan for my seven-year-old niece is finally complete–fringe added, yarn tails woven in, and ready to be delivered. The blues reflect her outdoorsy nature, as wide and expansive as the sky–a girl who is happiest collecting rocks and shells and watching frogs jump.

Baseball comes next… in the form of a Detroit-Tigers-themed blanket for my sports-loving nephew. The yarn has been selected–thankfully, Lion Brand Yarns has created a palette for the baseball season–and finalists for the pattern have been narrowed down.

Large Detroit Tiger’s Old English D by Rachael Tomasino

I might even challenge myself by adding the Detroit Tiger’s famous “Old English D.” That is, if I can figure out how to read the pattern–a possible stumbling block for someone who knits like the proverbial dancer but with two left hands instead of feet.

But none of this matters. Once the yarn slips through my fingers in a meditative repetition, I’ll be lost to the process, watching the afghan emerge stitch by stitch. There’s a peace to be found in knitting, a solitary craft–at least for me–in which the simple union of needle with yarn can yield hours of serenity (except, of course, when I drop a stitch!).

It reminds me at times of writing, the beauty of linking words like stitches and seeing a pattern emerge in a swirl of colors. Underneath it all is the hope that what is in my mind will be reflected on the page or needles, but also a reminder that part of the joy must come from the act of creation.



Knitting Memories Into Yarn

Afghan for my niece... almost finished!
Afghan for my niece… almost finished!

“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.


This essay was originally published on Hobby Reads.