Knitting Blog: A Legacy in Stitches Part I

I continue to knit nearly every day. These days I think of my knitting as my legacy in stitches.

Legacies. What will persist beyond our lives? This is something that surely other people think about when they realize that the end of their lives may be nearing. When I think of my life and my work, I realize that my knitting is the work that might endure the longest.

My accounting work? The general ledgers of each year I closed will live on as PDF files on a server in Ithaca, but with a document retention schedule of 6 years for nearly everything else, almost every piece of paper I carefully filed away during 13 years of work will be shredded within five years time. I did leave the organization in a healthy financial position so it is more likely endure for many years, and there is a plaque on the wall of a kitchen memorializing my name and my work. I cannot take credit either for the work that the agency continues to do or for its continued operation.

My knitting will survive me. I have sweaters that are over 20 years old, and they look nearly as good as new. If you use good yarn and the moths stay away, knitting can last for decades. Of course, good yarn is key. I made many sweaters from crappy yarn in my early days of knitting, and they are long gone from my closet.

As I knit any project these days, one of the things I think about is who will use the object I’m creating after I’m gone. That has become part of my personal mission statement for the project. I don’t worry about socks, someone will want them. I’m being mindful of the final disposition of other items; it’s hard to think of spending my precious time knitting something that I will use for a relatively brief time, and that then will languish, unwanted and unloved.

I’ve completed five major projects in the past 14 months. I’m confident each of them will find a home someday - or already has one, because two of the projects were gifts. I’ve divided those projects between two blog posts.

The Lush Alpaca Cowl

Special yarn needs just the right pattern, and this was special yarn - Owl Ridge 100% alpaca in “Ortiz”, a lovely natural deep silver. The name of the yarn most likely comes from the alpaca who provided the fleece that became the yarn.  A search on Ravelry turned up the perfect pattern: Cowl Fushia by Izzie Ophelie, a French designer. This pattern is an undiscovered gem.

I don’t know who will claim this some day. Karma suggests that it should be my sister, because she gave me the yarn. It’s not going to molder in a drawer, because it is buttery soft and looks great.

Robert’s Vest

My husband has loved getting knitted vests from me over the years, and I decided it was time to make him another, from a high quality pattern and materials. The pattern comes from Veronick Avery, one of my favorite designers. Robert is picky about yarn, feeling the prickle easily, so I chose Berocco Ultra Alpaca in colors that reminded me of the very first vest I knit for him. This one is a lot nicer.

One nice detail - a turned up hem rather than ribbing at the bottom of the vest. The vest glides right over the belly, and is much more flattering on a guy than one that pulls in below the waist.

Travel Shawl

This project is emotionally satisfying on many levels for me. It is a big square shawl that can also be a blanket, knit from a US sourced yarn in a fascinating colorway (Peace Fleece’s “Distant Maples), and it is another Veronik Avery pattern. This is a comforting piece that I can envision using in many ways through sickness and health.

It is also one where the legacy was clearly in mind with every stitch I knit. I want my daughter to have this shawl some day. I love the color, but I also chose the yarn because I knew that she would love it as well.

She took some evocative pictures of me wearing it at a favorite place.

Here is a photo of the yarn. It is a blend of purple and a bright lemony green with bits of blue. Who would guess what a fascinating color would result? The intent is to echo the bark of maple trees after the leaves have fallen.

And with that, I will end this post because it is long enough. Part II with two more projects will be posted in a few days.


  1. Beautiful knitting. I love the yarn in that shawl, and you look fabulous in the cowl.


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