This is a photo of a beautiful mistake. (Hint: it’s in the far right hand column.)
My mom knitted this, and many dozens of these afghans—along with many more baby blankets and dish cloths—as gifts for friends, family, and acquaintances throughout her life, much to everyone’s delight. Her mother—my Grannie—was a gifted knitter as well, who delved into the trickier territory of sweaters (one of which you can see in this photo I posted recently).
Though I may have inherited and developed both the fine motor and organizational skills to create something like this, I lacked two other basic ones required of knitters of this caliber—interest and patience. And I’m sure that this disappointed her. My fine motor skills were focused on and destined for other things, like Bach and Mozart and Chuck Leavell and Fats Waller and Floyd Cramer.
This Thursday marks the 14th anniversary of my mother’s passing, and the urge to knit has struck me precisely twice since 2007—both times to knit simple square blankets for the chihuahuas who currently live upstairs from Shawn and me. As my hands worked the needles, I recalled the many hours my mother spent sitting on the couch, smoking cigarettes, drinking wine, and watching TV while knitting—and how when she would occasionally check back over her work, a snarl of anger would capture her face whenever she found a mistake—and then the agony of her having to ‘rip it a’ th’ way back oot’ and start again.
I’m honestly not sure if she enjoyed knitting. Every step of the process seemed to stress her to the point of devastation—right down to the very last stitching of the ‘Made Especially For You by Edie Pierson’ labels that were sewn to every creation after they’d survived the washer and dryer. I’m sure it was all for the joy of the recipient. She beamed at every thank you card or phone call that came into the house.
At her funeral, the pastor asked everyone in attendance, ‘Who here has an afghan knitted by Edie?’ I looked around the sanctuary to see many hands in the air, and it was at that moment that it hit me—and hard—that both of my own hands remained in my lap.
One of those hands in the air belonged to my friend Annie who, several years ago, decided to give her own ‘Edie afghan’ to me, and it now lives on the bed I share with Shawn.
The afghan is still breathtaking, even with the mistake. It proves that a human being made this, labored over it, tried like hell to get it just right. Maybe it’s an Easter egg. I didn’t notice it right away, so I suppose it’s possible that Mom never noticed it, either—though I really doubt that. I’m guessing she didn’t notice it until after the last stitches had been cast off and there was no turning back. And if she’s anything like me, she probably never forgave herself for it once she noticed it, and then ultimately said, ‘To hell with it.’
It brings to mind all the errors I’ve let go on every single song I’ve ever recorded and released, the ones that pang me every time I hear them or even think of them—every little glaring bit of evidence that, try as I might, I can’t play or sing anything perfectly.
’Perfect is the enemy of good,’ as the old saying goes.
And though I wasn’t the original intended recipient of this very uniquely human afghan, I’d like to think that Mom wouldn’t mind that I ended up with this particular one.