Monday, September 25, 2006


Afghan. The word sounds intimidating, almost as frightening as “sweater”. I am an in-the-moment kinda gal. I don’t tend to be especially patient and this shows through in my knitting. I like to knit things that I can finish quickly. I do not want to spend a large amount of time on any one project. The idea of a full-sized baby blanket practically sends me into a panic attack. Can you imagine spending an entire week or two of knitting time working on one project? Perish the thought.

But what do you give someone who has a terminal illness?

For Mothers’ Day I did not know what to get my mom. I ended up having the girls make her a stepping-stone from a kit I purchased at Michael’s. While the girls and I worked on the project in the back of my mind I thought of the day I would get it back. I wished that I didn’t have to be so aware that such a day would come.

Just before Christmas last year my mom was diagnosed with systemic sclerosis (or scleroderma), which had triggered pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable lung disease. It is fatal. Always.

Another aspect of the systemic sclerosis is raynaud's syndrome. Mom is always cold. I had in mind that I would like to knit an afghan for her birthday, as intimidating as they are. Mom and I share a favorite color: green. I knew the blanket must be green. I found a free pattern (pdf) that I liked online. The pattern is knit with a cable running the length of each of the eight strips that make up the afghan. The yarn I chose to use was Caron Simply Soft in two shades of green along with a raspberry and bone. Each color would have two strips.

I spent not just a few weeks knitting this one project, but an entire summer. I finished the final strip late last night. I did knit other things from time to time, for a change of pace and because I have knitter’s ADD. I can’t have just one set of needles busy at any given moment. The afghan though, was the project in my bag. It was the one that went everywhere with me.

Many hours were passed knitting in the car to and from Southeastern Utah. It went to the library many times, to the children’s museum, to riding lessons, gymnastics, once to a political meeting but most often to church. There was something comforting about working on my mom’s blanket while listening to a teaching of the Word of God.

The eight row, repeating pattern is now burned into my brain. In the beginning I counted every row. Then I went on to only counting every cable twist. Eventually I just knit until it looked like I was close to the end of the strip and counted. I only over-knit once!

I will miss having Mom’s afghan with me, but at the same time I dread the day I'll get it back. While at gymnastics this evening I glanced into my bag and saw the bamboo size 10.5 shorts that I purchased specifically for this project. There they both sat, unemployed. It made me feel a twinge of sadness. Finishing the strips is one step closer to finishing the blanket, which is one step closer to giving it to her, which is one step closer to saying good-bye to her. I sighed and went back to work on another dishcloth.

The pictures above: first, the finished eight strips; second, the final order for the strips - this one was suggested by my husband with a little help from my daughter (it was the fourth one tried); third, the stitch pattern


Mama Bear said...

The afghan is truly lovely. May it bring your mother much comfort and warmth as well as a relection of your love for her.

While I know it won't be long enough before you get it back, I hope it's as long as possible.

Candy said...

What a beautiful afghan made with so very much love! Many prayers for your Mom!! (Hugs)

Wool Winder said...

This post has really touched my heart. Blessings to you and your family. May this afghan warm your mom with love.

busyHSmom said...

Youo did a lovely act of kindness and sacrifice and love! I hope the afghan will bring comfort to your mother for the rest of her life, and will comfort you in the future when you must face your loss.

I lost my father to cancer a few years ago. The last thing I gave him was warm cuddly scarlet red (his favorite color) blanket. I got it back after he passed. Last year I gave it to my mother who has serious respiratory illness. She seems to be deteriorating fast and I know that someday, I will be getting the blanket back for a second time. It is a difficult thing to deal with.

mopsmamajen said...

I love the colors and the pattern. Hopefully she'll use it for a long time.