Monday, October 28, 2013

Warm Hands

Several years ago, I worked in an old portable trailer outside a middle school. The drafty trailer was divided into two small rooms connected by a short narrow space. This portable did not have running water so we used the restrooms inside the middle school. In the winter, cold air came up from the floor so I wore long wool socks and kept an old shawl over my lap. Outside doors on either end of the trailer opened directly into the rooms. Eighteen itinerant teachers shared the space so we let in more than adequate amounts of fresh air as we came and went from home visits. We arranged file cabinets to make a little entry space to protect those sitting closest to the doors but still the portable was chilly in the winter.

During one of those cold winters, my sister knit me a pair of fingerless mitts from a blue/gray cashmere yarn. I kept them in my desk and wore them often. Her gift, made by hand, was a great kindness. I knew I was loved and my hands were warm. When I retired I brought the mitts home and still wear them on chilly mornings as I work at my desk.  

This autumn I knit a pair of fingerless mitts combining leftover yarn from two previous projects. I added four stitches to the palm for a better fit with this yarn and my hands. I wear them while driving. I knit a second pair using pale pink alpaca yarn. I finished the first mitt and the cuff of the second before I realized I hadn't twisted the second cable. Alpaca yarn doesn't have as much memory as yarn spun from wool. If I ripped out and reknit the yarn, the twist might have loosened and made the mitts less sturdy. Instead, I decided to call the omitted cable a design element and keep them. I'll see how they wear with only one cabled twist.

While knitting the pink pair, I thought about knitters and hands. As a knitter, I applaud both knitwear designers who create patterns and the dyers and spinners who create yarns. I knit by hand rather than by machine. While many knitters, knit gifts for family and friends, others knit for charity, giving hats and mittens in order to lend a hand to someone else. What would the world be like if we were all willing to extend tolerance and grace with a warm hand of friendship?

All musing aside, I am enjoying the fingerless mitts. I knit the deep melon colored mitts for an elderly friend with arthritic hands. Over the years, we have shared quilting and knitting projects. Lately arthritis makes it difficult for her to piece and quilt by hand. She still knits so I hope these fit and keep her warm in the mountains of Montana. I don't have a recipient in mind for the smaller cabled mitts but I'm sure I will find someone who will enjoy wearing them. The wool yarn is leftover from the first lace shawl I knit in 2002 so I am pleased to have used up the remaining skein. I plan to knit the same mitts in a solid colored yarn so the cable is more visible. Currently, I am knitting a wee green hat for my youngest grandson to wear on Halloween. He is only two and a half months old but Halloween is four days away so I will knit for him on this autumn evening. In the meantime, I wish you warm hands and a Happy Halloween.   

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