Knitting A Heritage Gift

Dear Liz,

You've been waiting patiently for it to be your turn, and it's waaaaayyy past time. So this one's for you, sweetie.

Your big sis

There's a tradition in my family that one gift each year, usually presented at Christmas, is what we call a "heritage gift." A heritage gift is always something special: something meant to last, something handmade that took a lot of time, or something of our past from our grandparents' home. One year, my mother made up a gorgeous photo album for my youngest sister, covered in hand-sewn fabric, containing copies of special photos that made up her ancestry, childhood, and family life. Another year, I presented my mother with the Leaf and Nupp Shawl; several years back, I gifted my sister Carol with a hand-loomed beaded bag made for her to carry on her wedding day. It was that year, the year of Carol's wedding, that I realized that since I'd been in college, I'd been slowly but surely making something handmade, something with love and time poured into it, for as many family members as I could: for one niece, a hand-appliqued quilt; for my mom another year, hand-woven placemats; for my dad, a handwoven silk scarf.

But for Liz, the sister closest to me in age, whom I love with all my heart and soul…nothing. Each season, I search through patterns trying to find something that will say what I want to say to her: something beautiful, but not too fussy; something a bit light-hearted, yet useful…an impossible task. My sister is a woman of many talents; she knits, sews, paints, quilts, crochets, and does needlework, in addition to raising a houseful of kids, maintaining a home and a job, and doing charity work for her church. She's funny, she's warm, she's down-to-earth…she's the kind to wear a lace shawl with delight yet make wisecracks about it not having enough holes in it.

Year after year, I come up empty-handed for her; year after year, the handmade gifts go to other folks, because I can't find anything "special enough" to make for her.

I've been doing a lot of knitting from stash this year, and last week, I unpacked a plain brown box that had been sitting in my studio for some time. As the beautiful sea-blue yarn tumbled out, I sat back on my heels, a bit dumbfounded at my brain's ability to forget little things like twenty skeins of yarn. For there it was, yarn for the gift that my sister had specifically requested that I make for her: a customized Central Park Hoodie. I'd ordered the yarn a year ago; the box even includes circular needles and matching buttons.

All this time, I'd been searching for just the right gift for Liz, and the entire time, she'd been asking me to make her a simple cabled sweater. She'd been asking me for exactly what she wanted; I, on the other hand, had been looking for something else, something "more special," as if making her exactly what she wanted, in the colour and yarn she herself picked out, wasn't a sufficient act of love.

Thus, at long last, I'm knitting my sister something special: her heart's desire.

Is there something special you'll be knitting this winter? Share it with us in the comments!

– Sandi

P.S. Of course, my sister knows me. She's already asked what kind of cables I'm knitting instead of the ones in the pattern…Stay tuned to see what I've come up with, and how I rework the pattern to include customizations my sister will love!

Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. You can find her blogging here on Knitting Daily every Thursday. Want more? Visit Sandi's personal blog, wiseheart knits. Or, if you're on Twitter, you can follow her: sandiwiseheart.

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