The Unfinished Afghan

     My Aunt Rose was a knitter.  I called her Aunt Rose because my parents had been best friends with Rose and Don before I was born.  I grew up calling them Aunt and Uncle.  We spent many weekends together during my childhood hiking and skiing together.  Rose and Don had three children and there were three children in my family.  The six of us kids got along, and we loved having this extended family.

     It was Aunt Rose who called my mother every morning after my Dad died to check on her.  They would chat and talk about their knitting.  They even did a knit along together, just the two of them.  They knit the Great American Aran Afghan.  My mother knit hers in a light green and Rose made her in a deep red.  Each square had a unique set of challenges and they helped each other figure out the difficult stitches. 

    Rose was knitting an afghan for her oldest granddaughter, Christine when she found out she had pancreatic cancer.  She was a little over halfway done when she died.  Rose’s daughter shipped the Afghan off to my mother in hopes that she might be able to finish it but it stayed in the bag. I asked my mother about the afghan when I was visiting her.  She got it out and it made us both very sad.  I couldn’t stand the thought of Christine not getting this gift from her grandmother.  I treasure the afghan from my grandmother.

     I took the afghan home.  When I got it out, I saw that Aunt Rose had kept careful track of her pattern rows.  The afghan was a brown wool and had a diamond stitch pattern.  Meticulous pencil marks in a little notebook stuck in her knitting bag guided me to the exact spot where she had left off.  The pattern was fairly easy, but I hesitated.  How would Christine know what her grandmother had knit and what I had knit?  Did it matter?

     It did to me.  I would want to be able to touch the stitches and know what my grandmother had done so I started knitting a different pattern.  I stayed with it until it was the size the pattern had designated.  I shipped it off to Christine’s mother who gave it to her daughter for her college graduation. 

     Christine wrote me a note that I still have expressing her appreciation for the decision to knit a different pattern.  She can physically touch the stitches that her grandmother knit just for her.  She will always treasure that last gift from her grandmother.

     Aunt Rose is gone but the love she put into each of those stitches is still present.  Christine may no longer be able to hear her grandmother tell her I love you but her grandmother’s love is still tangible and transcends time and space through her knitting.

     As we sit and pray with our knitting, as we feel the softness of the yarn, the polished needles creating the stitches, we can think about the love that is available to us from God and how each stitch creates a fabric that can warm and comfort those we love.  As knitters, we make love tangible.

Project Update: Pattern Rows 3-10 of Pattern 56 from the Japanese Stitch Bible.

Published by Julie Cicora

I'm an Episcopal Priest that loves using knitting as a spiritual discipline.

4 thoughts on “The Unfinished Afghan

  1. The posts about knitting connecting us to people in ours lives have touched my heart. I began Lent knitting a cowl from beautiful green silk yarn given to me by a friend. As I was sitting down to knit and pray last week, the phone rang. It was my best friend calling to tell me that her husband was very ill and was getting worse. Our families have been close friends for years. They live in another state and we have been unable to get together since the pandemic began. After crying with my friend on the phone, the call ended and I felt empty and frustrated that I could not be with my friends.
    In that moment, the 2 previous posts about mittens came to mind. I put the cowl away and decided to make my friend “prayer mittens” with the warmest, softest yarn I have.
    The mittens are progressing day by day. I pray, reflect and give thanks for my dear friend while I’m knitting. I think about all of the wonderful memories we have. When her husband passes, I too will call her each day.
    I will eventually finish the beautiful green cowl. Perhaps it will be next year’s Lenten project.


    1. what a lovely gift you are giving your friend — both the prayer mittens and all the prayers that are ‘going into’ the mittens.


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