The Roots of For Color

Several months ago, I walked up the well-worn concrete steps up to my grandmother’s house in Springville, Utah. She had lived there for almost as long as I remember. A fragile little woman answered the door, her steely hair swept high on her head and a swipe of soft lipstick on her wrinkled lips. Though her shoulders had grown so narrow and bent, she still smelled of Camay soap and cocoa butter lotion.

This is Mary Lou.

My whole life, I’ve felt like I’ve been working hard to get to know Mary Lou. I come by my reserved nature honestly; both my parents tend toward the trait, but if my mother gets it from anywhere, it’s her mother. Where Blaine, my grandfather, was always open and gregarious, chatting up anyone he knew, Mary Lou has always seemed more comfortable in the background, watching and listening.

When I was young, this sometimes made her seem distant and a little hard to read. As I got older, I learned to see her differently.

When I graduated from college, I found myself booted out of student housing and student employment.

Suddenly, I would be both jobless and homeless, and I was at a bit of a loss for what to do next. My grandmother, though, was perfectly willing to take me in for an unspecified amount of time, and for a solid month, I mailed resumes, sat around her house eating her food, and waited for the phone to ring. Because my grandmother was a homebody herself, we had a lot of time to talk. We went grocery shopping together. We made meals. We read in the kitchen or out in their wooded backyard. She asked my advice on clothes (though she never took it!), and on how to apply makeup. We didn’t do much, and I know I felt the time went slowly, but looking back on that month before I moved out, I realize my grandmother and I found a new rhythm. We bonded in a way we never quite had before. Because we had spent that time together, I grew to love her because of her personality, and not just because she was my grandmother.

My grandmother has a silly, subtle sense of humor. She has a darling laugh, and though she can sometimes be reticent to express her thoughts, when she sees something she likes, she’s known to say, “Oh, for cute!” or “For sweet!” It’s one of her most endearing expressions.

Grandma with two of her daughters. For funny!

Mary Lou has a quiet, simple faith that supports her through life’s trials. I watched her muscle through caring for my grandfather as dementia took his memory, and then his abilities, and finally his life, and I know she is inexorably strong. She has a quick temper, but a tender heart. She loves her family more than I believe even she has always known how to show. But this last time I went to visit her, she walked us to the door, kissed each of us affectionately, and then stood in her front picture window blowing us kisses until she couldn’t see our car anymore.

Recently, Mary Lou had to leave her home. Since I learned she was leaving, I haven’t been able to shake the image of my sweet, tiny grandmother, reaching for me and blowing me kisses. I’ve felt she needed my arms wrapped around her, even when I couldn’t be near.

This is for Mary Lou.

An important note on the wrap’s name: my grandmother has a distinct fashion sense, about which we affectionately tease her. My whole life, every single time I have seen her, she has been wearing a white blouse and jeans. Really! She is always impeccably turned out: hair styled, makeup on, and her collection of white blouses is varied and lovely. But I am not exaggerating when I say that in the last 35 years, I cannot remember ever seeing her in anything else. Ever! I’m not certain when this came about, because in the picture at the top of this post, when I am about two, she is, to my great shock, wearing plum! Photos from before my living memory show all kinds of evidence of color, but at some point afterward, she gave it up for a uniform of crisp white blouses and jeans. For the last few months, I’ve been feeling like perhaps she would enjoy a little swath of some rich hue to go with her white tops. For that reason, this wrap is a soft, pretty pop of color, and I think it might brighten up just about anyone’s life. It’s a wrap created for love, for connection, and For Color. I hope, when my grandmother sees it, she will say, “Oh, for lovely!”

The For Color wrap is available now!
See this pattern on Ravelry


This pattern is named in honor of:

Mary Lou ♥


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