Goodbye Barbara

Monday, January 07, 2008
I just got home from the funeral of the wife of a friend of mine from choir, Barbara McMullan (July 1933-January 2008). Barb was many things at the church - so involved in Altar Guild that they saved the front pews on the side opposite the family for Altar Guild members, the originator of the needlepoint cushions for the Chapels, the designer of this year's poinsettias on the altar. What I had not known about Barb was that she was an accomplished - and adventurous! - knitter. There were several of her children and grandchildren wearing sweaters she'd made (even though it's record-breaking warm today), plus a few scarves here and there. In the dining room they had put out not just photos of Barb through the years (including a HILARIOUS one of her and John wearing kimonos!), but also three beautiful sweaters/jackets. They were totally different from each other. One was a black and cream Lithuanian-styled jacket (lined), with the most amazing diagonal lines for colorwork. Another was a sideways-knit cardigan (also lined) in bright greens and blues, with some colorwork but mostly textured interest. And the third was so totally 80s acrylic it made my heart sing - blues, greens, yellows, and whites in an intarsia "woven" design that also included textures in the yarn and the stitches. I think it was a vest - but I was so blown away by her stranding on the back that I didn't pay attention to the sleeves... The sweaters being worn included a cabled jacket with waist shaping done in the reverse stst between the cables and a beautiful Scandinavian-patterned cardigan in reds and oranges on a black background. That one even had embroidery around some of the motifs. Lovely!

Somehow it was wonderful to think that the knitwear that Barb made over the course of her life is still treasured and used by her children and friends. I think that sometimes we knit for our loved ones and are disappointed in the less than overwhelming response we get to the gifts. What we may not realize, however, is that people do recognize that the act of making a sweater IS an act of love - they may not know how much love, of course - but when we are gone they will look at the knitwork and remember us. Just as we remembered them as we were making the garment in the first place.

So, goodbye Barbara. May you always have a project to work on, an unlimited supply of whatever materials you need, and a grateful angel to clothe.

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All content in this blog, including patterns and photos, is the intellectual property of Katherine Vaughan. All rights under US Copyright Law are reserved. Teachers, please direct your students to download/print out their own copies of patterns used in class. You are, of course, welcome to use items knit from any pattern for charity or sale, with the statement "design by Katherine Vaughan" appreciated.