Donning her new lilac sweater with matching hat, Shayna and I venture out to the mall on a spring morning. Somewhere near the Macy’s court, a woman stops me after glancing at baby Shayna in the stroller. She points to Shayna and remarks, “I bet someone who loves her very much made her that sweater and hat. They’re too pretty to be store bought.”
Indeed, I tell her. The new ensemble is compliments of Grandma Mitzi, who busied her knitting needles soon after she learned I was pregnant. Grandma’s first masterpiece is a checkered baby blanket, color coordinated to match the baby’s room. Soon after Shayna’s arrival, Grandma Mitzi comes bearing another gift, a lovely newborn sweater, and of course, a matching hat. As Shayna’s first winter approaches, Grandma Mitzi calls with an urgent question, “I plan on knitting Shayna a baby bunting to keep her nice and warm in the winter, what color I should make it?” We discuss options together and decide on teal, to highlight Shayna’s beautiful blue eyes. “I’ll throw on some pom pom’s to add some color,” Grandma says excited.
The bunting is positively adorable, not to mention, impeccably well made. Grandma has even incorporated a slot in the bunting to accommodate the baby seat strap for car rides. Ingenious! The only other woman who can match Grandma Mitzi’s knitting talent is my own Grandma Yetta, who I recall never without knitting needles or a cigarette in her hands. It makes me reflect on how much love a grandma gives through her knitting needles.
With nine grandchildren, Grandma Yetta is constantly in the middle of a knitting project, whether at her apartment in Brooklyn, NY or Hollywood, FL. Knit with love, Grandma creates colorful ponchos, sweaters, scarves and blankets. She knits each of her three children a patchwork bedspread, first knitting individual patches then knitting all of the patches together to make the blanket. Each blanket takes more than six months to create. In college, Grandma knits me a wonderful v-neck sweater to keep me toasty warm in Boston. It joins me on my seven-week trek across Europe after college graduation. The sweater is versatile and indestructible. At a laundromat in Germany it shrinks nearly three sizes, then miraculously, enlarges to twice it’s original size after a wash somewhere in Switzerland or Italy.
Like Grandma Yetta, Grandma Mitzi, knits Shayna a new sweater and hat ensemble for every season the first three years of her life. She does this for Jeremy too. Marlena gets Shayna’s hand me downs. But Grandma Mitzi, knits with love, a blanket for each of them in the color of their choice. The handknit blanket keeps them extra warm throughout the cold winter seasons.
I have no idea why, but I never ask Grandma Yetta to show me how to knit. After she dies I place all of her knitting needles and instruction books in a box and take it home, promising to take lessons. I never do. Not even one from my mother-in-law, Grandma Mitzi who is readily available to teach me. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Now, they’re both deceased. And I wonder, should my children ever have children of their own, who will knit with love for them?