A Week of Small Wonders
It began with the sweater. Of black and white yarn, knitted in a raised rib vertical stripe; swinging freely on each side of the front opening in two broad panels, simple rectangles which cap the shoulders as they continue down the back, the stripes meeting at a diagonal forming a rear panel chevron. Between the front straight panels and the back chevron a triangular panel of solid black fills in under each arm, the same black making long sleeves from striped shoulder cap to wrist of the wearer. A stunningly beautiful garment.
I watch the sweater cross the patio and enter the museum café where we sit over lunch. “Did you see that? The sweater?” I finally say. Everyone looks—by then the sweater is ordering at the far end of the room with her party. Sabrina and Lesley and I are knitters and our eyes, minds and words lock jointly over the identity of the garment.
“It’s gorgeous. Is it a sweater?”
“It could be a jacket of fabric too. It looks ethnic, its lines are so pure.”
“Don’t you love the way it hangs? And its strong graphic presence.”
“Perfect on her. Just great. It’s hand knit, I’m sure.”
“Someone must have made it for her.”
“And she might have made it herself.”
The sweater left with her party, beverages in hand. They stand outside in the patio.
Well, let’s ask her.” Dora, the ceramic artist, rose immediately from her chair.
I followed her in pursuit of this most exciting sighting. Actually, I hobbled from my place with my stiff hip. When I joined the group outside Dora was already in heated conversation with the sweater owner. I heard the word Gap. “Did you say the Gap store?” I said in delighted disbelief. “Yes, I saw it about a month ago and admired
it, but couldn’t afford it. Then my sister gave it to me for Christmas.”
In generous response to our enthusiasm the sweater owner walked back into the café to show us all, removing it and handing it around. “See, here are the seams,” turning it inside out. And we devoured it with our eyes. And talked about it.
“Those raised stripes are not an ordinary rib. It could be Shadow Knitting; I’ve done some.”
“Really. Never even heard of it.” And so on.
That night at home after dinner the clock says 7:35. “Is there a chance our Gap store is still open?” Without an inkling of how fired up I was, my spouse agrees to drive me. When the usual obstacles are nowhere to be seen and the goal is in the main sight lines with supporting data of substance, i.e., end of holiday sales with enormous markdowns, hopefulness can swell your heart and align workings within the head. I was ready.
I pulled myself upright from the car for this moment and walked calmly toward the ugly concrete steps of our local Gap store. It was lit for business and adorned with outrageous sale promises: “up to 70 percent off”. I calmed my beating heart and went directly to the women’s sale rack against the wall. It was crammed with garments shoulder to
shoulder, but I spotted it. The sweater with its stripes was there. I pulled it out. It was in my hands with a sale tag of $24.99. A month ago it was a $90 item. What luck, what timing. “This is it. The sweater.” Not in my size, but in this case not a primary incentive. And, if it should fit Sabrina or my daughter, so much the better. In my plebian life this is a rare moment: I need to shout this out so I call Sabrina who is
“Sabrina, I am in the Gap right now. I have the sweater in my hand. The sweater. Can you believe it? Yes! We have it and now we can study it.” We are both elated; I am so excited the young man working nearby laughs and gives me a thumbs up.
At the counter the cashier rings up an additional 30 percent discount. Then, as our account had been inactive so long, a renewal is required which gives us another 15 percent discount. The gorgeous trophy sweater is mine for $16.17 including the sales tax.
In the middle of the week we celebrate Sabrina’s birthday. We give her the sweater with Patti Smith’s “Woolgathering” and some tulip bulbs to plant in her garden. From the bakery we deliver a Red Velvet cake crowned with an explosion of deep red rose petals, each glowing petal the real thing. The two grandchildren arrange the candles and accompany their father with the lighted cake and their happy singing selves.
Later that evening Sabrina tells us that Monday Mikey wanted to plant special kisses on her cheek and her neck. After he did so he said: “Send that to your heart”. It so moves her that Sabrina tells him and Lisa notices. Lisa then wants to kiss Sabrina too. She kisses Sabrina on the cheek and on her neck. Then she says: “Send that to your lungs.” My husband and I are humbled and abashed before these everyday revelations.
This afternoon Sabrina drove us to the yarn shop and tells me: “I took the sweater in to the shop the other day and all the ladies went absolutely bonkers over it. It’s our big new thing; we can make it a project, study and learn from it; so exciting.”
Basking in the glow of the week’s blessings, I say: “I just love ethnic clothing. Its directness and simplicity. The way they use basic shapes and using their own particular fabric widths.” We discuss the Japanese kimono fabric, the African and South American, made on narrow looms.
Sabrina says: “And there’s no waste.”
To which I wholeheartedly agree and say: “Yes, cover the waist; we don’t need it anyway although even with a loose garment a hint of a waist is always graceful.”
“I said there’s no waste, no waste of fabric,” Sabrina repeats.
I laugh then at hearing her correction. “There’s clearly a five-inch thick wall of generation gap between us. I guess that’s how much I have gained around my middle since my younger days.” It has been a great week.
A Week of Small Wonders