One evening this note popped up in my Etsy conversations:
“I am looking for an artist to make a sweater blanket from the sweaters I inherited from my mother. She knit them. Do you take on projects like this?
Notes like this thrill me with their prospect of an exquisite new challenge!
In her next note I learned Kelly had eight sweaters ready to send and was hoping for two blankets, one for each of her teenaged twin sons.
And then I learned more. Kelly’s mom Sandy had passed away suddenly two years earlier. Sandy had been extremely involved with Kelly’s family. The loss was devastating to them.
Kelly, the only girl among her siblings, had put her mom’s sweaters in storage, not sure what to do with them. “My boys were very close to her. I think this would be a wonderful way for them to enjoy her work. I know my mom would love the idea of her sweaters being out and enjoyed!”
Sandy was not only a knitter. She worked in costume design and was an artist in several other media as well: watercolor, beadwork, paper artwork and freelance interior design. Prolific! Above all, though, for Kelly, “She was my best friend.”
Kelly had told me ahead of time, but I’d forgotten: Sandy was only partway finished with one of these sweaters when she passed away. When I brought Kelly’s box in from my front stoop and sliced it open, I wasn’t prepared for the emotion of seeing one navy-and-red piece, still on Sandy’s knitting needles. It was a tender reminder of the fragility of life.
Did I mention? Sandy was Norwegian. Her roots surface in many of her knitting patterns!
As part of the custom-order process, I spoke by phone with Kelly to learn what she was hoping for in having these blankets made. I asked about her mom and I asked about her twin sons, Bren and Sean. It’s when I get a feel for the people involved in the sweaters and the yet-to-be-made blankets that the design process begins for me.
After that conversation and after seeing all the sweaters, I decided to make each blanket have its own individual personality, and yet share some design elements. Each one would also contain something of each of Sandy’s eight sweaters. (Like twins: two individual personalities with a shared lineage and “design elements”!)
SO, in no particular order (and with faint apology for rather blurred blanket titles),
here is “The Norwegian Artist,” which as it turns out went to Bren:
And here is “The Artistic Norwegian,” which went to Sean:
Happy Valentine’s Day, Bren and Sean!
May your grandma’s beautiful sweaters keep wonderful memories of her
very close to each of you.
© Joan Olson
“The Artistic Norwegian” (60×75) and
“The Norwegian Artist” (60×75)
Felted Wool Sweaters