“What’s wrong, Mom?”
She looked up, her eyes rheumy, to see her child standing before her. No matter how many years it had been, she still saw them as her child, someone to be taken care of. But they had grown far beyond the childhood ideas and behaviors that had at once seemed so endearing and annoying. She yearned for that time again, but she knew she wouldn’t trade the forward-thinking, challenging young adult for anything.
“It’s just…,” she sighed, and they came to sit down next to her, picking up a skein and letting the yarn run through their fingers.
“What’s wrong?” they repeated. “Is it the yarn?”
“Partly,” she admitted. “I wish-”
“Mom, I told you - this was the only yarn they had. They don’t make the yarn you used to use.”
“But I still have-”
“Yes, but it’s old and faded. The color is barely there anymore and it’s fraying. It would never be able to hold up, especially with the more complicated pieces you could make.”
“I don’t have to make them,” she said. “I still have this blanket pattern.” She tapped the paper next to her.
“Blankets are fine, but we can’t wear blankets. They were great for covering us up when we were little and, sure, I sometimes like to hide myself under a large blanket, but I don’t want to spend my life like that. What’s wrong with sweaters or other pieces? You could make those.”
“I don’t know that I can. Perhaps I’m just too old. The colors used to sing to me. It was soothing. Now, they shout at me. And at each other.”
She saw the way her child looked at her. It was a confused, concerned look and when they spoke, their voice was soft. “What do you mean?”
She sighed. “When I made your blanket, the blues and the reds would sing to each other. Sometimes, one would take the melody and the other the harmony, and then they would switch. And the white had a bold voice that lended support. It was simple. Pure. I could make that pattern any time, anywhere.”
She felt a hand take her own and was surprised to feel how bony her own hands felt against the younger flesh. Although she frequently commented about her age, she resented any physical reminder of her lost youth. Her mouth turned downwards.
“Mom…” Her child hesitated. “It was a nice pattern, but it’s too simplistic for what we need now.” They gestured to the skeins around them. “Look at all of these different colors. Think of all of the different things you could do with them. Thing of how they could be incorporated-”
“That’s not the pattern,” she started to protest.
“So adjust it,” her child told her gently.
“I don’t know that I can,” she said. “That pattern has been handed down for generations. To change it now…”
“Would enrich it,” came the response. “You could improve upon it.”
She thought for a moment, then shook her head. “I don’t know. These other colors...I just don’t know.” She pointed to an orange skein. “That one seems far too loud to include. It feels like it would take over.”
“So don’t let it. Try to use it sparingly.”
“And what about the blues and reds? The old ones worked well together, but these...these seem to clash with each other. And the white - it’s not the same white. It’s…”
“It’s just a different white, Mom. It’s still white, just a little softer. It’ll let the other colors pull more focus.”
"I wish I could use my regular skeins.”
“They’re old, Mom. I told you - they won’t hold up. Here.” They reached out and picked up brown and black skeins. “What about these?”
“I used to use black and brown as a way to stitch blanket squares together, but they weren’t there to be seen. They were just foundation. Support, really.”
“Well, maybe you could use them to add more variety to the pattern. Think of how pretty that could be.”
For a moment, she had a flash of inspiration and she saw a different pattern before her, but it disappeared as quickly as it had come and she shook her head. “I don’t know...I don’t know…”
“What about this?” A green skein appeared in her child’s hands. “You’ve never really focused on the greens. Think about how they could be woven in. Maybe they could bridge the blue and red.”
“Do you think so?” she voiced her doubt.
“You don’t know until you try.”
“There are just so many colors.” She stared helplessly at the multitude of skeins across the floor: yellows and purples and pinks and grays...
“More color is a good thing, Mom.”
“It’s time for a new pattern. You’ve been following this one pattern your whole life.”
“I won’t know what to do.”
“You’ll figure it out. Don’t you remember what you said when I was learning?” They smiled at her. “You said, ‘Maybe you’ll drop stitches. You might have to unravel some of it and start again, but it gets easier and, eventually, it’ll become second nature.’”
The corner of her mouth slid upwards. “I said that, huh?”
“Yes, you did. So why not? Don’t you want to create something of your own?”
“What will people say? They’ve come to expect the blankets. They know that’s what I do.”
“It’s not all you can do, though. Just think how happy they’ll be to see something new. Something more.”
“Folk are going to complain.”
“Some might. Let them. Most people want more than a blanket. They want something they can be proud to wear in public. And as people see your work, they will start to want more. Mom, you are more than this pattern. In fact,” they offered, their manner suddenly more shy, “we could do it together.”
She looked at her child and tears welled up in her eyes at the faith they had in her. She took their hands in hers and squeezed them gently.
"Well,” she said, “We can certainly try.”
She picked up her needles.