My brother and I are like two grains of sand caught in the wind, separated by 19 years and an entire continent and ocean. We connected in 1984 when I was eight years old, and he 27. We had the most amazing summer together, which I remember fondly, even though he cheated me at all those games of Badminton and out of my stash of salt water taffy. Mainly I remember our laughing together.
My brother brought back a friend when he visited for those six months, Christine. Christine was the first knitter I met in my life. I had been around many crocheters, but never a knitter. And she could knit. And knit, and knit. Christine is Austrian, with all the trappings of European Stoicism and Pragmatism. She can make a Goulash so divine you remember the taste in your mouth 23 years later with a fondness that defies time. She made an abundance of hats, finished with a burst of color at the crown where the stitches are lovingly sewn together. She makes slippers en masse. Most remarkably she knit the most magnificent sweater I'd ever seen, and she gave it to me! An eight year old may not appreciate the time and effort that went into making a fine wool sweater with cables, bobbles, and a hood, but this thirty-one year old certainly does.
Naturally since Two Thousand and Seven is my Annus Stercus Accidit, I found that Christine had been in a horrific car crash, the other driving having died at the scene, Christine herself attached to a respirator for more than two months. Fighting for her life.
I pondered what to do, being powerless and half way across the world. I remembered the first shawl I knit, and how I thought of Christine as the wool stitches grew between my needles. What could I do if not send her the shawl to cover her shoulders as she convalesces.
But I couldn't remember how she knit. If she preferred wooden straight knitting needles, or smooth metal circulars. I knew she loves wool, but what kind? She'd only just gotten the use of her arms and hands back. And she sits in the hospital as the hours pass. What must she think about?
I know what I would think about, after my thoughts returned from my loved ones. I couldn't bear her in the hospital with no wool or needles to hold, even if she is unable to use them for the purpose intended. So off to the yarn store I went, slowly pondering my choices. I've never considered so carefully what size needles a person would use. Or buying circulars because they stay in the hands easier.
But eventually I settled on some Addi Circular needles in a length I felt appropriate with the fine merino wool chosen in two colors, looking at the cream and blue tones in the sunlight to be absolutely sure these were the right gift for a knitter who'd been through so much.
I hope she finds solace in my knitters gift. It pales in comparison to the gift she gave me as a child, but it's a start.
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