What’s a mama to do when her boy requests a purple hand-knit sweater? Bust out the knitting needles and get busy, of course! Ira’s request came about a year ago. For a moment, my mind drifted to all of the hats, coats, sweatshirts, shoes, and other garments that I have found over the years- in trees, in the barn, at the edge of the creek, in his chicken coop- haphazardly discarded in the wake of more important matters. For a moment, I wondered what fate this sweater might find. And if I should really bother spending so much time and money on something that might just wind up as chicken bedding. But the process of creating something holds many lessons, and as an artist and craftsperson, I garner so much joy from the process itself. (Farming is a lot about the process, too!) So without much hesitation, and with purple yarn and a couple of wooden sticks in hand, I cast on a sweater for my boy. (ravelry link here.) And I proudly cast off that sweater a few months later, late last winter, and handed it over to my smiling little monkey (picture above, the first wearing). I had no idea then what adventures Ira and this purple sweater would share…I hope it provided some comfort when he decided, of his own accord, that it was time to butcher one of his favorite coming-of-age roosters that was becoming a danger to anyone that walked past, namely his little three year old sister. And while wearing the sweater, he helped me butcher that rooster. I know it provided warmth on so, so many mushroom hunts this spring, when we were having a healthy competition to see who could find the most morels on the farm.And I can’t count the number of times that I’ve witnessed Ira putting on his purple sweater as he heads out the door with a yell over his shoulder, “I’m going to the creek to fish.” This particular day back in the spring, that purple sweater got to witness him reel in a small mouth bass that qualified him for a Trophy Fish Award and his first qualifying catch towards a Master Angler Award. He’s nine. Eric laughs that in all of his own years of fishing, Ira already has him beat. (I don’t think the proud papa really minds, though.)
And in all of those trips to the creek, or wherever else his bare feet and purple sweater take him on any given day, he’s witnessed river otters playing in the creek. He’s had beavers smack their tails on the surface of the creek at him, trying to scare him away. He’s chased attacking hawks away from his precious ducks. He’s walked miles. He’s shot his bow hundreds of times. He’s fixed bicycles and chopped down trees. He’s snuggled chicks and herded lambs. At some point along the way, the sweater took on the status of “lucky”. (I remember my own lucky green corduroy overalls that I was convinced helped me win the third-grade spelling bee.) Yes, he was wearing his sweater just moments before shooting the apple with an arrow at the archery contest at the Linden Waldorf School “Elves Faire”. Yes, he was wearing it yesterday when he hauled in these two large-mouth bass from a pond on the farm. Yes, he’s had the sweater on for countless grand events. Are his successes because of his “lucky” sweater? I’m not so sure. As Ira wears his purple sweater, pretty much on a daily basis (except for the rare occasion that I actually wash the thing… oh, the beauty of wool), I am witness to something else that is so amazing. He is growing. I see what was a loose fitting sweater just a few short months ago now fits like a glove. The sleeves aren’t too long anymore. I can see how his arms are filling in the sweater where his muscles are growing. I see his unbelievable determination shining through when he focuses on a project. I see his confidence growing as he is given the freedom to pursue his passions.
I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more than luck at work here…Sometimes, I like to think that I’ve not just made Ira a purple sweater, but his very own suit of armor. Instead of being made of little loops of metal though, like most chainmaille suits of armor, the thousands of loops of yarn made a suit of amour… a suit of love. A warm and comforting gesture from a mama to her son. It’s the least I could do. Oh, yes… I know for sure that the sweater isn’t nearly as lucky as the mama of this little boy.