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Home : Community : Customer Gallery : Sharing a love of knitting - How my sister-in-law became my sister

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Sharing a love of knitting - How my sister-in-law became my sister
Created By: Bren Bolin
Pattern Source: other:

Sharing a love of knitting
How my sister-in-law became my sister

I affectionately call my sister-in-law Allison “sensei,” a Japanese term for teacher, not because we are Japanese, but because it is a title of respect and I have the utmost admiration and appreciation for her, her life, and her fiber art. She has patiently and lovingly taught me how to knit and purl the stresses out of my life in a most beautiful and creative way. She “gets” me and has a magical approach of showing me (kinesthetic learner that I am) exactly how to understand the how and why of each technique, pattern, yarn, gauge, needle type and size – everything. She has been knitting, constantly, for as long as I’ve known her. And she finally won me over, for which I will always be grateful.

Allison, an amazingly talented nurse and educator, came to our home to be with us for the birth of her first niece or nephew (we wanted to be surprised!). We spent a lot of time together that week, but unfortunately, her niece was not ready to be born yet! Allison knit and waited and we played Backgammon and talked, but no birth pangs. I could not have had a better precursor to my first birthing than that. It really meant a lot to me and showed us how much she truly cared for us. I still have the little pink hat and mittens she lovingly knit that first Christmas, and all the other beautiful knitted gifts every year since.

Two years later my relationship began to deepen even further with Allison. She was in kidney failure and needed a transplant. My husband was the best match, so surgery was scheduled for July. It was an overwhelming situation and the outcome was totally out of our hands, but we tried to stay positive and prayed for successful surgeries and recoveries. Successful transplants usually last about 5-7 years; she is going on 25 years.

I was pregnant (first trimester - sick and tired) during the transplant. The next spring our son was born and Allison dropped everything to rush home to meet her new nephew (she wasn’t going to fall for that “due date” thing again!). She immediately bonded with the sweet, little baby. You could tell how happy she was to be alive and feeling well, peacefully knitting and contentedly soaking in the new life — hers and her nephew’s. I don’t think she fully realized what a great stabilizing force she was in our lives.

Years later I finally gave in to her gentle encouragements and began knitting. And boy did I knit! Scarves, hats, hand warmers, felted bowls and gauntlets, and darling little baby sweaters for everyone! I had just gone through a very stressful restructuring at work and was completely exhausted. She taught me simple stitches and bought me my first needles. What a welcome balm of relieve and healing. It works wonders and it’s a mobile art form you can take anywhere and everywhere. Each time Allison comes home, she shows me new stitches and techniques, new patterns and tools, and she challenges me to take bigger steps. She nurtures my growth perfectly, almost instinctively, and knows when to push me a little bit harder. That is the essence of a true teacher; the perfect balance of patience and challenge.

I’ve heard it said that “You need to create art everyday,” and being a creative person by nature and occupation, knitting provides the best medium for at-the-moment access to a project or two or three (you know what I mean…). I love the challenges of knitting and the discovery aspect that happens almost daily. The possibilities are endless with new yarns, patterns, stitches, techniques and needles continually being designed. I love going online and traversing the world for new ideas and exploring wonderful resources like Lion Brand’s site, which sparks inventiveness and excitement and provides direction and practical application with a personal touch. Now I know why she carried it with her all the time. Now I get it.

We only see each other once or twice a year (we’re 2578 miles apart), but we make the most of it. The rest of the time we email back and forth, me with questions, and Alison with answers and understanding. I email photos of my completed projects (much more complex now), stunned that I actually made them, and she always replies with enthusiasm. Her positive energy envelops me and makes me feel accepted and secure. It’s such a good, good place to be, and it makes you want to be that kind of positive influence on others too. A circle of sisters knitted together with the yarns of love and acceptance. Knitting can be so much more than just a craft or form of fiber art – it can be used to positively change lives and relationships – forever.

Allison will be having another transplant this fall. This time it will be her younger brother’s kidney. Again I pray for my sister’s life, knowing how rich and whole she has made my life, as well as countless other ‘sisters’ that she has lovingly fostered and awakened through her joy of knitting.

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” ~Albert Einstein

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