In celebration of a wonderful woman

Today I’ll write a different kind of blog, because I want to honour a very special person in my life who passed away a few weeks ago.

Mutti

My Grandma was the kindest person I’ve ever known.

She’d listen to everyone who needed a shoulder to cry on, she’d give generously to any charity (as evidenced by the petitions that keep piling up on her doorstep now that she’s gone) and for five long years she, tiny and fragile as she was, took care of her ailing, dying husband. And she loved me. If I was sad or angry, I knew she’d put down anything to comfort me and cheer me up again; if I was happy, she’d share my joy. She was in my corner, always, 100%. In the 24 years I was allowed to spend with her, I’ve never heard her say even one harsh word to me; even when she realized that I wasn’t as deeply invested in the Christian faith as she was (and, in fact, had started to rebel against my religion teachers), she only shook her head silently and with motherly resignation. In the darkest moments of my life, she sat next to me and held my hand for hours while I cried and cried and cried.

She was the reason I hesitated going away from home for a longer time and a bigger distance, even though when I did, she used to call me every day and demanded to hear every single detail of my life. Being acutely aware that at her age (she was 90 years old) death could come quickly and suddenly, I was afraid I’d be away when it happened. Sadly, this is exactly what happened: the news of her unexpected death reached me while I was in Romania, and I’ll always be sad I didn’t get to be there and hold her hands in the end, exactly as she always held mine. I miss her. I miss her every day, and sometimes it hurts so much that it feels like my heart might explode. I still can’t believe I’ll never get to talk to her again, to make her smile again, to hug her again.

DSC00170_1I owe so much of the good things in my life to her, her kindness and generousity. My love of reading: I remember, when I was a little child, we used to sit in her big armchair together and she’d read books to me. Mostly Astrid Lindgren books – Emil of Lönneberga was my favourite, which I made her read at least six times. My love of history, partly (well, that’s mainly my Dad’s fault): I loved her story about “back then” so much, especially those about her daily life as a child. Thirdly, and this is the reason why I felt her passing couldn’t go unmentioned on this blog, my love of crafting. When, at 17 or 18, I decided I wanted to learn knitting, she was the one who taught me. It took us a long time and much patience on her side, since she was nearly blind and couldn’t demonstrate what I needed to do, but had to explain it to me as clearly as possible. We managed, though, and it’s hard to say who was more proud of that.

A page from her "knitting book", part of a pullover pattern she made for me when I was a wee baby. (And yes, now you know my real name.)

A page from her “knitting book”, part of a pullover pattern she made for me when I was a wee baby. (And yes, now you know my real name.)

I don’t think I’ll ever be the knitter she was. She could create things from scratch, all on her own, without any kind of pattern or help. She was methodical and accurate and wrote everything down; neither of these things will probably happen with me. But we did share our deep love for knitting, and my first action upon finishing anything was to go over to her house and show it to her. Then we’d talk for hours about the technicalities and difficulties I had encountered, and what I had planned as my next knit, and so on and so forth. Even in the end, when she kept forgetting things and had difficulties keeping up a conversation, knitting was a topic she’d be able to talk about in a lucid way. I’m here, writing this blog, because of her, because of something she has instilled in me. That’s why I can say with absolute certainty that knitting will be a constant in my life, not only because I love it, but because it’s one of the many things she gave to me and I need to honour that.

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This is the last knitting project I showed to her. I wasn’t done yet, because I hadn’t bought enough yarn, so despite my protests, she gave me money to buy what I needed. She kept looking at the pattern, admiring it and calling it beautiful. That evening was the last time I saw her. I’m glad I got to show her this last project, and I put much effort to finish it because of that. (Knitting made me cry a lot during those first weeks.) (I also feel the need to add that my Grandma would have very much disapproved of these pictures, because what is the child WEARING, she’ll get a COLD, hasn’t nobody here a lick of COMMON SENSE.)

Pattern: Lizzie by Georgie Hallam  Yarn: Siena by Wolle Rödel

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First things first: This is a REALLY well-written pattern. You can tell the designer put much effort into making it as readable and understandable as possible. I haven’t done much sweater knitting, much less seamless sweater knitting, so I’m very glad that my first garment pattern of this kind was so easy to follow. (Also: I love the idea to highlight the stitch count in different colours according to the size you’re knitting. Brilliant! I approve.)

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Knitting this cardigan was fun, there’s no other way to say it. I adore the lace pattern, it was so easy to memorize and looks AMAZING. I did screw up twice, though. The part between shoulders and body seems wrong somehow, but I can’t put my finger on it. Doesn’t matter much, it still looks good and thus didn’t warrant frogging everything. The second mistake was a bit more painful. The pattern said that for the edging you had to pick up and knit two stitches for every three rows. Maybe I misunderstood, but I ended up with not enough stitches for the edging and basically all of the cardigan was bunched up under my arms. Frogging a couple of rows with about 400 stitches each made me want to punch something, as you can probably imagine.

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Anyway, I’m very pleased with the result. It’s a lovely last memory of my Grandma. I wore it when I presented my bachelor thesis to my colloquium and it was just so comforting to wear something she had touched, literally and figuratively. This is why I wanted to write about her on here. I recently read somewhere that death ends a life, not a relationship, and I find this to be true. I will not say good-bye to her, because she will always stay with me in one way or another, but I do want to share what she gave me with others. It’s a way to celebrate her life.

5 responses to “In celebration of a wonderful woman

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