The Purple Sweater

One Saturday in early December, I realized I needed a purple sweater.  I was looking through my closet, trying to figure out what to wear to the small, family only (due to Covid), funeral for my aunt.  Aunt Jane, my mom’s older sister and my godmother had passed away that previous Monday at the age of 87.  In recent years, I didn’t see her frequently but growing up, she had been a big part of my life.  I have fond memories of going to her house for sleepovers with my cousins and for numerous family gatherings.  She was there for birthday parties, graduations and other milestones and had even hosted my baby shower when I was expecting my first child.  Had I properly thanked her?  Surely, I wrote a thank you note but did I ever really tell her how much that meant to me?

As these thoughts played through my head, I recalled the fact that Aunt Jane didn’t wear black to funerals.  A woman of strong faith, she saw funerals as a time to celebrate a loved one’s life and so always chose to wear something of color.  Aunt Jane’s favorite color was purple.  As I looked through all my clothes, I saw lots of black, blue, teal and my favorite color red, but no purple.  Not a blouse, not a sweater or a dress.  Making a mental note to correct that, I chose a simple black dress and added some color with a scarf.  It would have to do.

December passed into January and I received notice of the release of a new base from Magpie Fibers.  Feather, a mohair silk blend, was being released toward the end of the month and as a Magpie Society member, I had the opportunity to order skeins before the official release.  With the idea of something purple in the back of my mind, I decided to order two skeins of Feather in the medium purple shade called, Don’t You Want Me?  Perhaps I’d finally make that Love Note sweater I’d been eyeing.  Or maybe something else.  Either way, I decided I’d make something purple as a tribute to Aunt Jane.

I had planned to wait until the order of Feather arrived and then go to my local yarn shop and pick up some fingering weight yarn that would go with it to make Love Note.  But an email from Tif Neilan of Tif Handknits, changed that plan.   Tif was looking for test knitters for a new pattern she planned to release in early March.   Called Meadowland, it was a top down knit with a lace and bobble lower edge and looked cute and cozy.   I replied to the email asking to be one of her test knitters.  Knit designers get many offers from knitters wanting to be test knitters, so I didn’t really think I’d be chosen.   Much to my surprise, two days later, an email with a draft of the pattern attached, let me know that I had been selected.   Meadowland would be my first test knit.  

What does a test knitter do?  A test knitter knits the pattern and gives feedback to the designer about their experience knitting the pattern.  If there is anything about the pattern that appears unclear, you pass that information along so that the pattern can be updated before its release.  In return, the test knitter gets the pattern for free and, as in this case, sometimes also has the opportunity to select another pattern from the designer as well.  As a test knitter, you also are asked to create a project page on Ravelry with a specific link, so that on the day of the pattern release, all of the test knitter projects can be viewed by anyone interested in purchasing the pattern.  

Meadowland is knit with a DK weight yarn held together with a strand of mohair/silk.  As luck would have it, the size I chose to knit called for two skeins of mohair/silk, the exact number of skeins I’d ordered of Feather.  Meadowland was destined to become my purple sweater. 

I cast on my sweater on January 26.  Three days later, I received word that Aunt Jane’s husband, my Uncle Don had joined her.  My cousins had lost both their parents in less than two months.   As I processed the grief of this double loss, I continued to knit.  With each stitch, I thought of Aunt Jane and Uncle Don.  I thought of the long life they had shared and their legacy:  a marriage of over 60 years that gave them two children, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.  A life as rich and colorful, as the purple yarn moving through my fingers.  

As Meadowland grew within my hands, I knew that once finished, wearing it would always have a special meaning. A quick knit, it was completed on February 13, just eighteen days after casting on.  It’s warm and cozy and the perfect shade of purple.  I think Aunt Jane would like it.    

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