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Home : Community : Customer Gallery : How Knitting Changed My Life
 

Customer Projects - Get Inspired

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How Knitting Changed My Life
Created By: Debra Heaphy

How Knitting Changed My Life

Debra Sue Klebanoff-Heaphy



When I was about 9 years old I received a stitchery kit for my birthday. I remember at one point I became extremely frustrated because I could not finish the project as there was not enough yarn included in the kit. Throwing down this project I remember stomping around our family room. My mother inquired what was wrong. I said I couldn’t finish the project because there was not enough yarn. She asked what she could do and I said “Nothing.” I then suddenly said something like: “I want cousin Lillian to teach me to knit.” Mother rolled her eyes at my request, but said she would write her cousin and mention that the next time she visited us I wanted to learn to knit.



Lillian and my late mom were first cousins (their fathers were brothers). I always remember how Lillian would come for a visit, usually staying overnight, and while chatting with my parents her knitting needles would click and flash in the light of our living room lamp. I was fascinated to see a beautiful garment emerge from under Lillian’s nimble fingers, never missing a beat with her knitting as she and my parents caught up on the family news.



Before Lillian’s visit which I will always remember as “THE Visit”, mother unearthed a pair of lacquered wood knitting needles and two skeins of wool worstead yarn, light yellow and royal blue. I recall that I must have been an eager student as after a few initial mistakes of yarn-overs and a dropped stitch or two, I was proudly kitting my first scarf. Lillian promised once I finished the knitting that I should send it to her and she would then bind it off and put fringe on each end, then send it back to me. Many years later when I looked at the scarf, I realized one edge was quite crooked where I guess I had increased the stitches. However, I learned by looking that one’s first knitting project is rarely perfect, and while the one side may, be in part, “more crooked than a dog’s hind leg” – a saying my mom would use, it was still a thing of beauty to me. It’s packed away in a box, and I think of how far I have come with the types of things I knit. My next project was to make mittens to match the scarf. They have yellow cuffs and royal blue hands/thumbs. Eventually I graduated to knitting sweaters. My late mother had many sweaters and vests which I knitted for her.



In later years, as I grew up, I knitted sporadically. My older son, who is now 22, is shown proudly wearing a sweater I knitted for him in his first-birthday portrait, the centerpiece of the design being a cat knitted into the front. His younger brother who is now 17 also wore the sweater when it fit him. I still have that sweater and will not get rid of it. Through years of marriage I’ve also made a few things for my husband. In 2002 I began making him an afghan with an American Flag theme. I ended up with a severe case of “knitter’s block” and simply couldn’t seem to finish the project. In the meantime, Spring of 2003, I decided to knit a Prayer Shawl using Prairie Homespun and Lion’s classic pattern obtained from their website. Knitting this shawl came at a very difficult time in my life. My mother passed away suddenly in February of 2003 at the age of 86. My father was in ill health and I became more involved in his care. It was a joy to knit the Prayer Shawl, and from that project, I was bound and determined to finish my husband’s afghan and have it ready for him by Chanukkah of 2003. I did meet my deadline in completing the afghan. In late August of 2003 my father passed away, just two weeks shy of his 89th birthday. Knitting became an even greater comfort to me.



Since 2003 I always seem to have a knitting project in the works. I’ve knitted for many family members. One of my favorite projects – which ironically I swore I would never do – is knitting socks. When I knitted my first pair using Lion’s Magic Stripes, it was truly love at first project. We went overseas in the summer of 2005, and I knitted socks on the plane both ways (I used bamboo needles, approved by the TSA), on the trip and came home with my 3 menfolk the proud owners of handmade socks. They are the ideal travel project and such a welcome gift!



Last summer in 2006 I decided to try knitting and felting a project for the first time. This is my newest love in knitting, and I have actually designed a tote bag pattern which is a lot of fun to make. The first felted project was the small tote pattern from Lion. I made the tote for Lillian. With her advancing age, arthritis has forced her to stop knitting. She calls me her “prize pupil”. As I write this, I am now 54, and Lillian is 94 years old. She has just moved closer to where we live. I plan to knit her an afghan as a housewarming present – and hope when she uses it she will fee like I am there to give her a hug and my love.



Indeed knitting has changed my life by bringing me creativity and relaxation, but most of all learning this craft has brought me closer cousin Lillian whom I proudly say is my knitting teacher extraordinaire.



 
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