knitting to remember them.
This is the story of two tiny sweaters, for two tiny sisters…
…but it really starts with this sweater for their older brother. If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you might have noticed that I mentioned, in that post I just linked to, knitting for a “niecephew-to-be”, and then never followed up on it. My nephew Ayden Parker was stillborn on April 18th, 2011, about 10 weeks before his due date, after my beloved sister-in-law was diagnosed with a severe case of pre-eclampsia (and later with a clotting disorder). He had my family’s nose (just like Maddy does), and even had different-sized feet like I do.
This was when I was in the middle of my first trimester with Madrigal, so as you might imagine, I had a very difficult time thinking about what had happened. It is so horrendously sad when people you love so dearly suffer such a terrible loss, and even moreso when you know that, should everything go as you hope with your own pregnancy, you will get to have something they didn’t: a living, breathing child. I was so angry at what had happened to them, and felt so guilty about what was happening to me. When my brother asked me if I would finish Ayden’s cardigan, so that they could have it to remember him by, I did – but I didn’t feel up to talking about it here at the time. But I’m glad I was able to use my knitting skills to provide them with something tangible to remember their first child, their son.
And that brings us to the sweaters at the top of this post. This Spring, we got the exciting news that they were pregnant again. Jenny was on blood-thinners, and her care was being overseen by specialists in exactly the sort of problems that had claimed Ayden’s life. I was so optimistic – well, cautiously optimistic. Then came the news that it was twins. Identical twins. Exciting, but also scary, since with twins comes a whole new set of potential complications.
Like TTTS, a rare condition that only affects identical twins, which I’d never heard of until they found out that they had it. The odds, the odds – the odds of what happened with Ayden are higher than you might think, but still low, and then this? So unfair. But it seemed like we could still be optimistic. The twins would almost certainly be born very early, but it seemed like they would make it.
But they didn’t. Their hearts stopped beating. They were supposed to have a surgery that would have hopefully helped them make it just the tiny bit longer they needed to make it before they could safely induce, but passed away just two days before the surgery was scheduled. So unfair.
My nieces Adelynn Lily and Abigail Iris were stillborn on July 1st, 2012.
I hadn’t started any projects for the girls. I’d planned about a million projects for them, but wanted to wait until they were safely here in the world to cast on for any of them. They didn’t make it safely, but my brother asked if I could knit sweaters for them, like I’d done for Ayden. As soon as I heard their beautiful, beautiful names, I had a spark of an idea, and it turned into this:
It’s a slightly modified motif from an Estonian lace book. It uses a traditional “Lily of the Valley” motif, but the way the leaf motif edges up to it reminded me of the way an iris opens up. Both girls, two flowers, one motif. I used Beaverslide’s 2-ply sport/sock weight yarn, which is a beautiful lightweight version of their worsted-weight 2-ply that I used for Vahtralehed.
It was really important to me, as I was knitting these two sweaters, to make them “real” sweaters. Wearable details, for sweaters that would sadly never get to be worn. The sweaters have split hems:
And teeny tiny seamlessly set-in cap sleeves with lap shoulders:
The end result is pair of beautiful finished sweaters:
for a pair of beautiful little girls whose lives should be just starting, not already finished.
I’m not going to pretend it is easy to knit sweaters for babies who have died. It isn’t. Especially if you’re the sort of knitter for whom part of the joy of knitting for others is seeing them wear the things you’ve knit for them. But that isn’t why I knit these two sweaters. I knit them to remember my nieces. And they will not be forgotten.