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I’m wrapped in the filthy, blessed garment as I type. It’s the dingiest of creams and spotted with spilt coffee because I keep forgetting to take it to the dry cleaner.
The tag hand-stitched at the neck says, “FROM THE Knitting Needle” in a gold 1950’s script. It is too large, hits at mid-thigh, and I can hardly believe my barely 5 foot tall mother-in-law wore it in high school when she probably weighed a hundred pounds dripping wet.
She passed it on to me years ago after she’d cleaned her closet. I’m not sure why she thought of me when she held it that day, though ever since, I’ve wrapped myself in it like a prayer shawl, rarely closing the pearly buttons that run up its middle.
I love this sweater.
It is the steady knit of the woman who once wore it. Strong, small hands folding laundry. Loaves of pumpkin bread and pots of soup. Puzzles on the floor with little people. A bag that holds a new coat or a package of undies because she noticed the need.
And now it’s filled, too, with the scent of me. Early morning writing and tears of late night. The smell of lotion on one arm, hints of sweat and syrup on another.
Recently, I watched as each of my girls pressed her nose into her own blanket. Sici into Gee-Gee, knotted together like links of escape through a window. J into Pink Blankie with its velour dots and the frayed corner next to the tag, Lala into Lambie blanket’s fuzzy sheep head.
“It smells like me.”
“Yeah, right here. Like vanilla sugar. Just like me.”
“I love that smell. It’s so relaxing.”
In the rearview mirror, eyes closed long as each drew in a long sniff.
Me — I still sleep with my own childhood blanket, Bee, tucked safely under my pillow, pulling her free (yes, she’s a she) on nights when I can’t sleep, wrapping her around my face.
What is it about our own smells that comforts us?
This sweater — with its just right weight around my shoulders and the sleeves that insulate arms from the cold metal desk where I write — it is the blanket of me, of early mornings and late nights.
It wraps round in content and sorrow, in the daily repetitious hard and in large moments of surrender.
It reminds me when I hit the “publish” button and when I scoop yogurt and fasten a barrette in wispy hair.
This knit is the looping of words, smells, deeds, moments after another. This knit is the wrapping kind of love that lasts, stays close.
Through years, through days, knit purl, knit purl.
Every Monday, Amber Haines of The Runamuck, leads an exploration of voice in writing, in which we use concrete words to express the abstract. You would never regret a visit to Amber’s to read her glorious writing or that of the other writers and friends who link up there. This week’s piece began with the prompt “THE SWEATER.”