When I was in eighth grade, my best friend taught me how to knit. Witnessing the majesty of her effortlessly knitting a scarf and hearing the soft, soothing clicking of knitting needles, I immediately knew this hobby was for me. She taught me, and from that point on, we were both hook—I mean, “cast on” to this timeworn yet millennial-embraced skill. We spent hours hanging out and knitting, watching American Idol (her favorite) or listening to Lifehouse (#SkyisFalling #NoOneKnows). We frequented Joann Fabrics & Crafts like it was our job (partly because that was her first job), poring over books like Wraps Made Easy! (affiliate link) and Friendship Bracelets for Beginners! and ogling the beautiful patterns in magazines like Interweave Knits, which at the time seemed impossibly intricate and inaccessible to us.
We graduated from high school and I went out of state for college, yet our friendship and shared love of knitting persisted. Over breaks when I would come home, or when she would come to visit me, we would discuss our latest knitting endeavors—problem-solving when a pattern was going awry or there was a complex stitch pattern with which we were unfamiliar. Many times, I’d call or text (and still do) for advice about how to read a pattern or get through a complicated part, as her patience and ability to read, deduce, and effectively communicate complex patterns exceeded my own.
We knitted hats and scarves, leg warmers, cowls, and headbands, eventually venturing into more daring territory and cheering each other on when we deigned to take on socks (the feeling of turning the heel for the first time!), vests, and sweaters (I have yet to do this, but my BFF constantly encourages me to try). We even had a shared craft blog for a while, “LHCreate,” where we proudly uploaded pictures of our crafting endeavors, including knitwear, ceramics, and—inexplicably—a homemade pudding cake in the shape of a pig with a funfetti base, malted milk-ball eyes, and a nose, feet, and ears made of Airheads candy.
During our junior year of college, I was going through a rough patch. My BFF, always having a keen sense for how to lift my spirits, sent me a basic, garter-stitch infinity scarf she had made with all of her leftover scrap yarn. It was the coolest, weirdest, most interesting knitted garment I had ever seen, overflowing with colors and patterns and textures. I immediately put it on and felt like the kid from A Christmas Story in the “can’t put my arms down” scene. It was perfect.
Inspired and motivated, I gathered together all of my scrap yarn and knit her an infinity scarf, too. We both still have these scarves and pull them out in the dead of winter when we need something warm and cozy that feels like home and reminds us of our lifelong sisterhood and companionship.
A knitted gift doesn’t have to be complicated, knitted with expensive yarn, or even use a pattern to be special—we mashed together all of our leftover scrap yarn, and what resulted was all the more meaningful because of our end products’ idiosyncrasies that only a best friend could love.
Leah Mortenson is an Education/TESOL professor, crafter, and for-funsies writer. She resides in New York City with her beautiful spouse and their adogable pup, Rolo.