Knitting with Gratitude

MEHETABEL's knitting lies loose in her hand;
She watches the gold of a broken red brand
                        That glitters and flashes,
                        And falls into ashes:
            The flame that illumines her face
            From the cavernous, black fire-place
Brings ever new wonders of color and shade
To flicker about her, and shimmer and fade.
                        Does any one guess
                        Of this maid's loveliness,
That the lonesome and smoky old room seems to bless?
 -- From "Mehetabel" (1869) by Lucy Larcom

I love to practice and express gratitude through knitting. Every single part of the yarn in a finished piece has met my fingers and has been formed into something. Isn't that amazing? Knitting is such a personal process, and what better intention to set than gratitude?

I made this scarf as a gift for one of my college professors who had an enormous impact on me as a teacher, mentor, and friend. When I first joined one of her classes as a freshman, I struggled with shyness and social anxiety to the point where I barely ever spoke in class. My professor was encouraging in a way that helped me to grow as a writer and also grapple with speaking at my own pace. She also was the first teacher in my life to intentionally center the experiences, history, and literature of Black people in her courses. This deepened my understanding of racial history and identity in the U.S. in ways I'd been separated from and ignorant of while growing up. It helped me to understand that racism continues to be a root cause of suffering today.

In addition to all of this, my professor also advised my progress on my honors thesis, which included works by Lucy Larcom, Frances Harper, and Sarah Piatt. My favorite of Lucy Larcom's poems is quoted above, depicting Mehetabel staring into a fire with her knitting in hand. To me, the poem is a wonderfully complicated mix of nostalgia and longing, both haunted and dreamy. I especially love the richness of the final stanzas. 

This scarf is a reflection of all of this.

I am thankful for teachers.

I am thankful for words and literature and artists and their ability to touch and transform us.

I am thankful for the ability of my hands to create.

I am thankful that the possibilities for learning and growth are limitless.

Mehetabel's future, an unexplored land, 
Spreads vaguely before her, unpeopled and grand: 
                        Its wild paths wait lonely 
                        For her footsteps only; 
            She must weave out the web of her dream, 
            Though flimsy and worthless it seem 
To her mother's eye, filled with the dust-motes of care; 
Though it bar up her path from the heart that beats there 
                        In the rich, ruddy gloom, 
                        Breathing odor and bloom, 
And sweet sense of life through the dusk of the room. 
Mehetabel — Hetty — the dream of a dream, 
The film of a snow-cloud, a star's broken beam,
                        Were a tangible story 
                        To hers ; but the glory 
            Of ages dims down to a spark, 
            And dies out at last in the dark 
Among questions unanswered, unrealized dreams, 
Still the beautiful cheat of what may be and seems, 
                        Flashes up on night's brink, 
                        When the live embers blink, 
And the tales that they mutter we dream that we think.
 -- From "Mehetabel" (1869) by Lucy Larcom

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  1. Is there a pattern for this?

    1. Hi Trisha!

      The Karen scarf is the result of an experimental mashup of several stitch patterns. It has been a little while since I made the scarf, but if I can pull together the patterns I use, I will definitely post directions on this post.

      Thanks for checking! (:

      The Fuzzy Square