I’m sure I’m not the only one who experiences this, but I find that pieces I’ve knit carry with them all of sights, sounds, and emotions surrounding the time when I did the knitting. A cabled cardigan puts me back on my couch in San Francisco watching a Harry Potter marathon during a rainy weekend; a lacy cashmere shawl knit while on vacation at a foggy central coast beach will always make me feel a little chilly; the pink silk scarf I worked on in the hospital after my son was born will always take me back to the bliss and exhaustion of new parenthood. It’s as if memories are knit together with the yarn into each stitch, and one look or one touch transports me right back to that moment in time. My newest design, the Tinos Cowl, which was knit with and inspired by Anzula’s fabulous new yarn, Serenity, carries with it some particularly poignant memories that inspired its name, and I’d love to share them with you today.
Tinos is a cowl designed to mimic the look of a little asymmetrical shawl wrapped around the neck – it’s a shape I’ve played with before, and it’s one of my favorites. In Tinos, two skeins of Serenity alternate in a stripe pattern that appears pixelated and textured due to the use of slipped stitches. Tinos is knit flat with increases and decreases creating its shape, then is seamed up the back. It’s simple and quick and I can tell you that it is absolutely glorious having that cashmere draped around your neck. You can read a bit more about the Tinos Cowl and download it on Ravelry here.
I designed Tinos last spring and, in the middle of the knitting of it, my dear Grams, the grandmother who patiently taught me how to knit when I was a child, passed away. This amazing woman was almost 94 years old and had lived in her own home, knitting, gardening, active in her community, calling the shots on her life, until a mere two weeks before her passing, when a stroke rendered her unable to care for herself on her own. No loss of a loved one is ever easy, but there was solace in Grams’ rich and adventurous life, her deep faith, her sound mind, and absence of suffering; the tragedy was that she couldn’t live forever.
Originally I wanted to name the cowl after her…but since I had already paid homage to her with a pattern name, Betty was out. But a glance back at the name of the yarn that inspired the pattern – Serenity – transported my mind to a peaceful little Greek island that I got to visit with Grams in the summer of 1996. I was 15 at the time, when my mom, my cousin, Grams, and I went on an adventure through Greece that culminated in a stay on the island of Tinos. This trip was hilarious and eye-opening and supremely memorable – the history, the food, the cute boys in the village square, beaches, fake nose rings, naked statues, Nescafé frappe, multi-generational cat-calls, the fact that Grams could strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone, and the time she felt compelled to give our Athenian taxi driver an in-depth description of public transit in the San Francisco Bay Area. Suffice it to say – that trip was one of the best experiences of my life, and Grams is right in the center of it.
Grams was the closest person to me that I have lost, and I miss her terribly. But over these past months, within this mixture of sadness in missing her and joy in remembering the amazing person she was, I do what makes me feel closest to her: I knit. Each stitch (formed Continental-style, just like she taught me) feels like a little tiny part of her legacy, a little part of her living on. And in those first days of losing her, the Tinos Cowl is where that energy, and that legacy, was directed. The pain, the joy, the memory of her, they were all knit directly into those slipped stitches and stripes. And the Tinos Cowl will carry those feelings for me forever.
You can find Serenity at these shops:
McKnittey.com - Online only
Amazing Threads - Maple Grove, MN
Bliss Yarns - Brentwood, TN
Knit One Purl Two - Rockford, IL
Knitting Store - Oceanside, NY
Knitting to Know Ewe - Newton, PA
Needle Tree - Greenville, SC
Spun - Ann Arbor, MI
Woolly & Co - Birmingham, IL and online
Yarn Garden - Charlotte, MI
As always, you can place a special order at your local Anzula shop for any of our yarns, we will dye it just for you and send it to your LYS.
Stay up to date on all things Hilary:
website - http://www.theyarniad.com/
Ravelry - https://www.ravelry.com/designers/hilary-smith-callis
Rav Group - https://www.ravelry.com/groups/the-yarniads-symposium
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