Use It Up: Sylvie’s Red Vest

Back in 1999, when we lived in Brooklyn, my parents came to visit. We went to a Yankee’s game, walked around Central Park, visited our favorite restaurant. Saturday morning, we spent a bit of time doing my favorite Saturday-morning acivity: Walking a couple blocks to a magnificent farmer’s market near the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

Morehouse Farm Merinos, a merino wool farm in upstate New York, always had a booth, and I think I knit through just about every kit and pattern they offered. Mom, who periodically tried to take up knitting, was very interested in a super-simple toddler-vest pattern featuring hand-dyed yarn; she thought it would look adorable on my then-two-year-old nephew, Gabe. After contemplating for a bit, being my mom, she decided not to spend the money. So the next weekend I went back, bought the kit, and sent it to her.

This summer, after my mom died, my sister and I were going through her things, helping my dad with the sorting. I found numerous bags of knitting supplies, almost all purchased with me in the hope that we could share knitting. Most were partially knit, some had never been touched. Knitting wasn’t really her thing. The vest kit I’d sent her was still in the bag, although she’d wound the skeins of yarn into balls. I took the kit, and all of her half-knitted projects, home with me, and left them in the bag for six months, unable to look at the things she’d touched or remember all the craft-store trips she’d indulgently shared with me.

But after the holidays, I finally, tentatively, opened the bag. And remembered the feel of Morehouse Farm yarn, and the fun morning we’d spent buying artisanal cheeses and vegetables and talking with the Morehouse Farm owner. The nephew the vest was intended for is now 15, so I made it in Sylvia’s size. It was a very fast knit, having no ribbing or embellishments. Sylvia knew it was from Grandma’s house, and that it had been intended for her now high-school-aged cousin; its history made it more exciting for her. When I finished, she wore it immediately — before I could block it. Then she wore it to bed. Then she wore it the next day, injecting her own style.

My mom would be so happy.


6 thoughts on “Use It Up: Sylvie’s Red Vest

  1. Thanks for sharing this Cindy. You’re right — your mom would be very happy to know that you took the kit and knit the vest. Aunt Nancy

  2. Such a beautiful story. An avid crocher myself, stories like these inspire me to create in the same way for my family. I just found you blog, love it, and plan on reading through your archives to catch up. Kudos

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