I am not much of a knitter but my friend Amy?
She is one of those clickety-clickety-clickety knitters. Her second knitting project was a poncho. An adult-sized poncho. That’s a lot of yarn, my friends. She picked up those needles - even the scary, double-pointed kind - and never looked back. Cabling? Check. Felting? You bet. Intarsia? I don’t know but I do know she knit Bambi mittens. BAMBI WAS ON THOSE MITTENS. OK?
I am a wanna-be knitter. And as much as I would like to clickety-clack like Amy I am making peace with the fact that my knitting skills will probably never be much more than serviceable. After many winters of struggling I am now pretty darn proficient with scarves, simple hats and cowls. (My poms, however, are legendary.) Knitting in the round is my jam. And although I had to rip apart my next-to-last project about 8 times before I got it right (ball yarn over the thumb! don’t twist those stitches! there was nothing actually wrong the 6th time!), I can proudly report that my last project was cast on without a hitch.
I have a sweet little circle of friends. On the face of things the four of us really couldn’t be more different, although there is some sort of magical glue that holds us together. These are the ladies who get reports on the state of defacation at our house (a more common topic amongst mothers than I ever would have imagined), who hear me rant about my husband (it happens), who get the stunned phone call that I’m pregnant. Again. (No, no - I’m not.) These ladies hear it all. And they still like me. It’s a small, everyday miracle that they are in my life and let me tell you: I don’t take it for granted, not even for a second.
At this time of year I feel compelled to find them the perfect gifts. This is harder than you might think, although I suspect it’s much easier than I make it. And while Elaine definitely won the Best Christmas Gift Award this year I still feel like I owe these ladies something special.
So, I bought my most favorite yarn and picked up the needles.
Given what I’ve said about my knitting proficiency it would be understandable if you were to find yourself thinking that maybe my “serviceable” skills were going to make for a fairly lackluster gift. And it’s entirely possible that you’re right. I can’t knit anything fancy - and if you’ve paid attention there’s a pretty big hint about what I may have come up with for these girls - but I can knit with heart. That’s exactly what I did, actually: I knit those ladies right into my heart.
I know, I KNOW: Cue the cheesy background music. But it couldn’t be helped, really. As I sat there knitting I found myself thinking about each of these amazing women. I wondered what prompted me to choose that particular yarn for each one. I thought about our individual friendships and how they’ve unfolded. I meditated on the two or three or four words that I felt were most representative of each of them. I prayed for them. I gave thanks for them.
MALABRIGO RASTA, ARCHANGEL
When I found the most colorful yarn they had I knew I had the right one for Amy. Amy is one of the bravest women I know. She is the one who encourages me to embrace colors and patterns that I might ordinarily pass by (lifelong wallflower that I am). She is passionate about the people and things that she loves. She has challenged my thinking and my assumptions, and helped open my eyes to a lot of truths I didn’t realize I had never seen. Amy is fiery when she needs to be. She is honest but kind. Amy isn’t afraid to reinvent herself - or, if she feels that fear, she isn’t bound by it. She inspires me to be better.
MALABRIGO RASTA, INDIECITA
Thinking about Tricia feels… comfortable. In so many ways she is a reminder of the life in my house when I was a child. She is down to Earth. No-nonsense. When I chose her yarn I think I had the blues and yellows in mind - a little too obviously reminiscent of her features, I’ll admit - but as I started knitting I saw a predominance of green and wondered: Green? But as I got further into the project it became obvious: She thinks about gardening with the same ease and simplicity as my mom, and it invites back all of those memories I have of digging and planting by her side. Tricia is fiercely dedicated to her family. When I talk with her I feel like she is fully invested in knowing and understanding me. Sometimes I find myself thinking “I am really just not this interesting,” but Tricia would never let you believe it.
MALABRIGO RASTA, AZULES
I suppose if there is a center spoke to our crew, or Council of Ladies as we sometimes refer to ourselves, it is Elaine. But that is who she always is: the one person in the room who will embrace everyone, the friendly spirit who will welcome you in. She is, without a doubt, the most generous person I know. She understands what you need, even when you can’t see it yourself, and she sets out to make sure you have it. When you are broken Elaine builds you back up. She is a light in a world that is all too often very, very dark. She is warm and safe. She is the best kind of friend you can ever hope to have. I chose her yarn because it captures the intensity of blue in all it’s hues - pure, clear blues, from the most saturated navy to the brightest aqua. This is her: a true blue friend.
At the end of the day this knitting project evolved into something else altogether. It was an exercise in reflection, for sure, but oddly enough the time I spent bent over those needles left me better than I was before. A better friend? I don’t know (I should be so lucky), but certainly a better knitter, though still far off from the clickety-clickety-clickety speed that Amy has mastered. And it really makes perfect sense because these ladies are always making me better. More thoughtful, more brave, more tolerant. It is just like them to turn this given-gift into a gift received.
So. Merry Christmas to The Council, my dear friends whose generous spirits never cease to amaze me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the gift of knowing and loving you.
Me and George Bailey. We’re the richest people in town.