Heirloom knitting

A valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations.

Families here in North America used to be different. A young woman setting off on her new life would have a chest full of items that her Mother would have set aside for her. Many of the pieces would likely be heirlooms. They would be used and treasured and then passed on again, in due time.

Sometime recently, (within the last fifty or sixty years), most people give away old things. Instead, they covet brand new purchases, in glossy wrapping and a branded carry bag, from a store. More than likely, these items, (and all the components within), have travelled a very far distance. Hundreds and maybe thousands of people have been involved in the manufacture, distribution, selling and marketing of any one item.

The more popular idea of “heirloom” is often associated with vegetable seeds. A growing trend of new age urban pioneers, are going back to the land to grow food. The old seeds have been saved and the resulting plants taste better, are more beautiful to look at and are very rare.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about this idea of creating heirloom products. I’ve been saving my own tomato and pumpkin seeds for years, with great success. (I even grabbed a handful of poppy seeds from a neighbour, as I walked by!) My sister’s sweet pea’s will adorn 2 areas of my garden this year. Every time I walk by their sweet scent, I will smile and think of her. But can a Mother really expect to have a wearing apparel item passed down and appreciated by her family? Even jewelry seems to go out of fashion in a relatively short period of time.

I’ve come to the conclusion that if I might want to have something passed down through my family, it needs to be of a certain quality. Then I take a quick cruise through my closet and realize, there is virtually nothing in there that could become an heirloom. Almost all my clothes are disposable. Purchased from mass retailers, relatively “trend-right”, these things will not pass the test of time.

The few potential pieces I own are fabulous jewelry, hand-made by my Aunt. (One day, when she is a famous designer, they will be highly coveted pieces, even outside our family.) So I recently turned to my Aunt for help.

I had come across a fantastic pattern for a wrap from the blog of Purl Soho in New York City. Purl Bee published the details for an Amazing Seed Stitch Wrap. The yarns could easily be purchased from the link provided and I could have been half-finished by now. But, in order for this to be my piece, I needed to choose my own colors. That is near impossible to do online. Then there was the problem of the cashmere costing $50 per hank. (The project calls for 4 of them!)

As luck would have it, Gina Brown’s came to the rescue again. (I’ve written about the Calgary location before – “Increasing stash“.) So we made the pilgrimage to Kitsilano in Vancouver. With help from the actual Granddaughter of Gina Brown – Kristina, we created an array of colours and yarns that will be my signature wrap. And maybe, if I’m lucky, this piece will have stories to tell as it adorns the shoulders of women in my family as time marches on.

Gina Browns Kits_web

Gina Brown shawl_web

Yarns shown here, (from the left):

  • Glazed carrot – Malabrigo
  • (Peach) shade 0201 – Sublime
  • Lettuce – Malabrigo
  • Lavanda – Malabrigo
  • (Light lavender) shade 0011 – Sublime
  • Azules – Malabrigo
  • (Light teal) shade 0109 – Sublime
  • (Stone) colour 300027 – Debbie Bliss
  • Fresco Y Seco – Malabrigo
  • (Teal) shade 0227 – Sublime
  • Vaa – Malabrigo

More about these yarns:

  • Malabrigo Rios – Pure Merino Superwash, made in Peru
  • Sublime – 75% extra fine merino, 20% silk, 5% cashmere
  • Debbie Bliss – 55% Merino wool, 33% microfibre, 12% cashmere