Once upon a time there was a knitter.
The knitter and her family lived out in the country where birds chirped and cows mooed. It was a quiet life where boredom often set in before chores were completed. When she first learned to knit, the knitter had dreams of filling her closets and home with many a knitted item; scarves, cowls, blankets, afghans, table runners, washcloths, hats and mittens for the children and fine wool hats for everyone she knew. But the knitter soon found that it was so hard to know what to knit first.
She was afraid for the longest time of double pointed needles, knitting in the round, and what to do if she messed up. So she stuck to small things that she trusted she could finish with ease. Then one year the coldest winter in the knitter’s memory struck. Temperatures plummeted into the negative and made grown men shy away from adventures and children fear making snowmen. The family had retreated to the indoors, somewhat patiently waiting for spring.
The knitter looked at her husband one night and thought about him outside all night in the cold where he worked. She wished she could find a way to remind him of how much she loves him and how much she cherishes all he does for the family. They were beginning to grow older and fine lines had started to appear around his eyes. She thought he looked handsome. More handsome than the day they married.
She asked him if he would like a hat, something to keep him warm when Old Man Winter began to bite. He looked at her and said, “Well that sure would be nice.” “Would you really wear it?” She asked him. “Yes, if you made it for me,” he looked at her and her smiled.
The knitter rushed to her giant stash of yarn. She pulled colorways and fiber blends searching for the perfect yarn. Finally she found it, a dark navy wool; soft and fine, but thick enough to be warm and not too scratchy like wool often is. The knitter set out that night working on the hat.
She began slowly, fumbling her double pointed needles, watching carefully when she moved from one needle to the next not to create a ladder. A ladder in the hat would cause a space for cold air to come in and weaken not only the look of the hat but how well the hat held up over time. Several rows later and the hat began to take shape. The knitter smiled in spite of herself. A day or two later and the hat got set aside, the knitter got distracted with other projects, kids needing attention, her job, the house all became more important than the hat.
One cold night as her family relaxed at home, the knitter retreated to her project bag and pulled out the hat. She picked up right where she left off and an hour or so later, she broke her yarn and stitched the end piece into the hat, pulling the top closed. She rushed to her husband and showed him the hat. He tipped his head forward and she pulled the hat down on his head. It was a tad too small.
The knitter sighed.
The husband pulled her close as she began to walk away, the hat in her hands, “I like it. I think it looks great.”
But it’s too small for you,” the knitter pouted, saddened that she had miscalculated.
“Well if you want to make one a little longer, then it would be perfect, I’m sure. Why not see if it fits one of the kids?” The knitter took the hat and went to the children, trying the hat on each one and each time a perfect fit. The knitter laid the hat on her desk and made notes and adjustments to the hat’s pattern.
The next day, early in the morning the middle boy asked for the hat, “Can I wear it to go do my chores?” The knitter took the hat from the desk and pulled it over his head. “Thanks mom,” he told her and off he went outside to care of the animals.
Later that same day, her daughter came and asked to wear the hat to work. “Don’t you have a different one?” The knitter asked her only daughter. “Yes,” she replied, “but I like yours better.” Once again the knitter retrieved the hat and put in on her daughter’s head.
That evening, while his sister was at work, the youngest child came to the knitter and asked for the hat; “I’m going to wear it to play out in the snow.” The knitter looked at him and smiled, “your sister has it right now.” The small boy looked at her and squinted his face up to hers, “then I need one for just me.”
That night, the knitter went to her yarn stash and pulled out colors in purple, black and blue and wrote the names of three of her four children on small pieces of paper. She placed each name with a color. She then pulled out her needles and the navy wool and cast on a new set of stitches, more than the last time. She carefully counted the stitches and rearranged them on the needles so that they wouldn’t twist. The knitter looked at her stitches, lined up and facing the right direction and began a new hat. As she worked each row, the knitter now understood that it wasn’t the yarn that made the hat special, it was the love inside of it.