Knitting, Make & Hue

Legacy for Our Children

“If I die, will you teach her how to knit?”

When my friend asked me that question, I could literally hear glass shattering somewhere in the distant recesses of my mind. There would be no more placating or ignoring what could really happen. Death and all the certainty it entails topples our comfortable complacency.

Twenty-four weeks into her third pregnancy, my friend Alice* became ill from spinal meningitis. Not only did she have too many close calls to count and an emergency cesarean to save her and the baby**, but she also had a stroke in her spinal cord that left her paralyzed from the chest down. Alice, the mana of three beautiful kiddos, a coffee-loving, knitting-obsessed teacher with a vibrant, sassy spirit that matched the fiery red of her hair, was now… just trying to live.

Her beautiful family became nursemaids. Her parents became caregivers again. Alice had to learn to rely on everyone else for everything, travel to tube changes, cooking to helping her get out of bed, changing clothes to brushing her hair. Alice spent many years in survival mode, battling constant bouts of pneumonia, fevers, and infections from bed sores.

Twice. Twice we almost lost her again. Twice I waited by the phone, bleak, cloudy thoughts trying to calculate the cost of a plane ticket to her funeral.

If Alice isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what is. She’s pulled through every time. The little spitfire. Her grace, though, and matter-of-factness about each experience pulls no punches.

“If I die, will you teach her how to knit? I want her to learn how to do what I love.”

Alice wanted to leave a legacy built on the things that brought her joy. Her love of knitting was a major part of her before the stroke. It was part of who she still wanted to be. A part of how she would be remembered long after she was gone.

Her question forced me to face the same about my own life: what do I want to leave my own daughters with?

Passion to chase dreams.

Connection to the past and present.

Memories of something we shared.

Confidence to try new things.

Rhythm and touch, movement and togetherness.

All the same things that knitting taught me.


Here are tips you might think about when teaching the children of your life:

Get comfortable. My girls and I squish together on the couch. In fact, the closer, the better!

Set them up with easy-to-use materials. I like a simple 100% wool yarn because it has enough stretch and elasticity to make things easier with simple wood needles.

Be hands on. When I am introducing a new technique, I show them several times and then guide their hands with my own to show things in slow motion.

Keep the lessons focused on one thing at a time. Start with the knit stitch and let them work on that until they are comfortable. I don’t want to overwhelm them with casting on, bind-offs, or purls; they’ll let you know when it is time to introduce a new technique.

Depending on the age of your child, their knitting time will be limited. My oldest, when she was eight, would work 2-3 rows before she gets antsy. This is a time for building your relationship, not a time for them to stress about getting it done.

Have fun with it! Cuddle, pick out yarn colours together, share your own knitting, and involve them in the entire process. I take my daughters to the yarn store where we dream about different designs together.

Like Alice, I don’t want to establish a tradition of simply moving through life, bouncing over hurdle after hurdle. I want to reach deeper, dig deeper, and set up a tradition of savouring, making, doing, giving, and connecting. I want my girls to know they are welcome in the part of my world that means so much and that more meaning comes because I can share it with them. &

* Name changed for privacy.

** The little guy was in the ICU for almost as long as his mama, but he’s now a rambunctious, healthy almost-ten-year-old, running around with his two older siblings.


About Tabetha Hedrick

Tabetha Hedrick, Design Director for SweetGeorgia Yarns, lives by the belief that joy comes when fully participating in the present moment. And that joy is ever so easy to find when immersed in the world of fibre! When not knitting, writing, editing, or researching, she fills the time raising two girls, two dogs, and one husband in Tennessee.

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