By Cheryl Corson, landscape architect, writer and knitter.
I’ve sewn, woven, and knitted gifts for loved ones for over thirty years. During that time I’ve also sewn backpacks in a factory, paid by the piece, made clothing for a New York City fashion designer, and run my own production weaving business. Beside technical skill, production work and gift making have little in common.
Knitting and felting a pair of wool slippers for my husband is a much slower undertaking than production work. Because of this, it becomes a gift for me too – the gift of time. He gets slippers; I get hours of quiet time, during which I often reflect on him and our marriage.
In fall, he thoughtfully selects 2 colors from dozens on the color chart. Once ordered, the wool soon appears in a box on our front porch. We open it, sharing happy anticipation, turning the soft balls of sage green and maroon yarn in our hands, neat paper bands still intact. Then I begin knitting.
Christmas approaches and I keep knitting until one day, 2 clown-sized slippers slide over my dubious husband’s feet. Into a pillowcase and the washing machine they go for felting. We check them from time to time until they eventually emerge from the hot water exactly his size. I stuff them loosely with plastic bags to shape them as they slowly dry. On Christmas morning, my husband unwraps them and slips them on, playfully pretending to be surprised.
I like that they keep his feet warm. I like seeing them side by side by his nightstand when he’s not wearing them. They’ve now molded to his feet and have distinct left and right sides. Their daily use and the understated love they embody, set them apart from store-bought slippers, even years later, as the heels have worn and need patching.
All these knitted, woven, and crocheted objects go well beyond being merely clothes, garments, or apparel, and into the territory of raiments, vestments, and adornments. And in my dictionary, to adorn invokes the word grace, whose own definition is divine love.
“Grace” gets to the heart of the matter. It explains the deep emotion and beauty binding yarn, maker, and receiver together into the timeless fabric of human history.