Your children may bring many different friends home over the years. If you are lucky some will fit into your family like a puzzle piece … or maybe they just always happen to show up at meal time … either way a strong friendship grows. Pictured is my current knitting project. It is a memory afghan created for my “adopted” daughter, Rachel, who graduated from high school in May 2017.
In early 2017, my daughter Kaitlin and I began planning for the afghan: Who might be willing to knit a square or two? What are Rachel’s favorite colors? What were her favorite memories with Rachel? We were able to recruit my mother to help with the knitting. The colors represent a blend of their high school colors plus Rachel’s favorite color green and Kaitlin’s favorite color turquoise.
Each image represents a piece of their high school experience together. They bonded together over thousands of miles of sunrise cross country runs and platters of sunny-side-up eggs. Traveled in a golden car named “The Dragon” and built worlds together in Dungeons and Dragons. They share a love of nature and a passion for books. Rachel hopes to become a Forester and work for the National Park Service. Kaitlin hopes to become a Research Meteorologist. Fitting, Rachel has her feet firmly planted on the ground, while Kaitlin often has her head in the clouds!
This is not our first memory afghan. The first, we knit for my son when he graduated HS in 2013. Like Rachel’s we decided on images, chose colors and recruited help. With Ryan’s however, we used a quilt graphics package to help us plan the color blocking. In addition to my mother and Kaitlin, we were able to recruit several aunts and cousins to knit squares. Each person chose a favorite from Ryan’s color list and knit at least two squares (= one ball of yarn). As the squares arrived by mail, I embroidered the designs inspired by his experiences.
Other than “It Always Takes More Time Than You Think” syndrome, we did experience other challenges. With both projects we needed to knit while the recipients were not present. Because Ryan’s knitters we working on their squares across the US, I set up a private facebook group where we could share our progress and post questions. We finished his as he was packing to leave for college August 2013!
As August approached last year, we needed to finish many more squares. Since we hadn’t done a color blocking plan, we’d stage the squares across the bed in Ryan’s room, squint and decide: more green? During Hurricane Harvey, we seemed to gravitate to gray and purple that week, made great progress and thought we might have a chance to finish the detail work by Christmas.
Plans change. In the aftermath of Harvey, my mother moved in with us as we worked to rebuild her flood inundated house. We fostered my daughter’s friend Carson when her house was flooded and her parents couldn’t find local rental housing. The HS was also washed out. The girls worried how and if they would be able to complete their senior year. The knit squares were gathered up and hibernated for six months as we found a new normal. Yet, the turquoise square was knit during the hibernation time.
This summer we gathered up the loose ends, restaged the blocks and decided what color blocks we needed (more green!) and what colors to use in the images. We almost scrapped the purple and dark grey blocks, but decided last August 2017 was a part of all of our lives.
Not all the challenges were so heavy. On a more humorous note, one of the blocks in Rachel’s quilt is dedicated to her cockatiel, Tado. We learned this week in the 18 months it took to get the squares knitted, Tado has matured and grown into her adult plumage. She was no longer fluffy bright yellow and pale gray - but very pale yellow with dark gray wings! She might disappear in her assigned ivory square. So, with a flurry of text messages, we assigned the green dragon to an ivory square and Tado will be transferred to the turquoise square Kaitlin is knitting now at university. It ended for the best. Now both dragon squares adjoin. I have the Leaf, the Dragon and Paw prints to squares to finish, then I will piece the strips shown (minus the Tado’s Turquoise roost) and bind the edges by Thanksgiving.
There is a memory knit project in the works for Kaitlin. As I mentioned earlier, she has loved the sky and clouds as long as she can remember. For her, I was going to create a “Knit the Sky” scarf. On each day of her Senior year, I would knit the color of the sky. Well, Senior year didn’t go as planned. My creative projects waited. So, we adapted. Just before Harvey, Kaitlin had a chance to shadow a NWS Meteorologist for a few days. During her aviation and marine rotation she had a chance to see METAR in action and was mesmerized by the coding system. This summer, she found the historical METAR database for this area, so from the daily code records she developed a color key for the sky conditions. This scarf will be now be a meteorological record! In this case the planning (coding) will take much longer than the knitting. I am hoping to start after Christmas and finish by June.
All three projects involved the other 3 Ps in some way. We come from a knitting family. We love knitting and enjoy all aspects: planning, knitting and piecing together. We talk about playing with the colors and images. Interestingly, the number of collaborators has dropped with each project. From Ryan’s collective, Rachel’s trio (no knitters in her family) to Kaitlin’s duo. Is another collective project in the works? Well, I am not so sure. In 2013, Ryan and Kaitlin were the youngest of the cousins. Now, a new generation of babies has arrived so perhaps the projects will be there, but be different to reflect another new normal. Each project experienced the project spiral: imagine, create, play, share, reflect .