I’m in the thick of downsizing and transitioning my parents from the house they’ve lived in for over 40 years to a small condo. They are excited for the change so spirits are high despite the amount of physical and emotional work. It’s a sensitive transition going through a lifetime of possessions and then having to part with most of them. Our things can be so embedded with our histories, stories and identity.
For the last few days I’ve been working in my Mum’s old sewing and craft room which was my childhood bedroom. Talk about layers of history-my Elton John Captain Fantastic poster from the 70s is still clinging to one wall. Mum hasn’t done a lot of sewing or knitting in the last years so it’s become a catch-all space. A couple of old Singer sewing machines and stacks of boxes lined the walls and an assortment of bags filled the centre. It was a bit of an archaeological dig but as a maker with a penchant for vintage things it was potential treasure trove to me. In short order I spied a hand knit sweater I clearly remember Mum wearing a lot when we lived in Nova Scotia in the 60s. Now that I’m a knitter I could appreciate the complexity of the pattern and how well made it was. It was a sweater with a story and it was a lovely moment to be able to bring it out to Mum, who was working away in the living room, and share it’s history. It even fits her again!
I also found a stash of vintage knitting patterns and books going back to the 40s. They’re coming home with me- I’ll worry about my stash later! I marvel at how elegant and stylish they are especially the Vogue Knitting magazines from the UK. Mum and Dad lived in Scotland for a couple of years when they were first married so some of the books are from 1955-57 when she was knitting up a storm with all those beautiful Scottish wools.
At the end of a long dusty, day I was going through one last box of stuff destined for the Goodwill bag and to my delight I saw a little magazine bent open to reveal the very pattern for the sweater I unearthed earlier. Another one for my pile and another story.
My parents have given themselves a number of months to transition to the new place. Even so, the impulse for us helpers is to rush, rush, rush, like all the goodness is waiting on the other side. Who doesn’t want to get through a move like this quickly, however, now that I’m in the middle of it, I think the process of getting there has value and can be a quality experience too. Possessions can be memory triggers and there is something very powerful and meaningful in allowing some time and space for those stories to be told. I’m so grateful for these “sweater” moments. I will savour them and they will no doubt become fodder for future reminiscing when we’re all sitting around their new condo. This move is a whole lot of work to be sure but I wouldn’t trade this time with my parents for anything.
Note: I have an article in the new Sept/Oct issue of Rug Hooking Magazine where I write about my combination hooking and felting work. The article also features images from my Illusions, Revelations and Transformations solo show. See you next month and thanks for stopping in!