Posted by: jinniver | February 14, 2009

Knitting an olive branch

I just cast on an olive branch.

Not a literal one–it’s actually a baby cardigan.  I’m just hoping that maybe it’ll help reestablish a relationship with someone I used to call my friend.

When Steve and I were midshipmen at the Naval Academy, one of his friends was a guy named “Sam.”  For a while, I viewed Sam as an example of my then-boyfriend’s occasional poor taste (as compared to the excellent taste demonstrated by dating me, of course).  Steve assured me that once I really got to know Sam, I’d feel differently.  But getting to know Sam was hard–he was extremely diffident and sometimes a bit superior.

Eventually, I managed it.  Under that diffident and superior exterior was a fun guy with a big heart.  Even my parents enjoyed his company, welcoming him into their home for the holidays when he wasn’t able to get back to spend time with his own family.  Whenever I talked about Sam, I referred to him as “our” friend, rather than as Steve’s friend.

Then Sam began to change.  I’ve never understood why.  Steve said it was because he was unhappy with where he was in life, and maybe he was.  He did have some phenomally bad luck and narrowly dodged death 3 times in one year–his intestines burst inexplicably, he was shot by an armed robber, and he was in the Pentagon on 9/11.  I feared for him each time and felt for him in his disappointments.

But to me, his experiences were making him bitter–so acidic that it hurt to be around him.  One Christmas we invited him to come stay with us, and he was just a miserable person the whole time he was there.  I had recently been diagnosed with MS and was struggling a lot with some cognitive difficulties that affected my speech.  Sam mocked my hesitant speaking not once, but twice–the second time after Steve explained through gritted teeth that the MS was causing it.  He ruined that Christmas and the memory of him mocking me hurts to this day.  Even my parents didn’t want him around any more, after he spent a different holiday with them refusing to take part in anything the family did and making it clear he felt they were beneath him.  The fun, big-hearted friend I knew was gone.

Of course, this all begs the question as to why on earth I’d knit anything for him.  But it’s not for him.  It’s for his baby.

Recently, Sam has gotten himself into a better place in life.  He traveled down here for Steve’s change of command, which I know meant a lot to Steve, and we enjoyed having him here.  He has a job he’s willing to get up for in the morning now, and he’s finally found a good woman.  And now they are–unexpectedly–expecting.

As soon as Steve told me, my initial reaction was to knit the baby a sweater.  Then I checked myself and thought about it.  Sure, I love knitting for babies…but did I want to spend my knitting time on the child of someone I don’t like?

It took some soul searching, but the answer I came to was yes–because, even after the Christmas I hate to remember, I never wanted to class Sam as “someone I don’t like.”  He’s always been a former friend I’ve wanted back.  Part of it is that his friendship is important to Steve.  But part of it is also for me.  Sam was my friend once too…and I want us to be friends again.

So today I bought some Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in light blue and taupe, and I’m casting on for Eyelet Yoke Cardigan. I’ve already knit this sweater multiple times–for my daughter (accidentally), for my niece, and for a friend’s baby (twice, in two different sizes).  The colors should be perfect, since they know they’re expecting a little boy, but the eyelets on the yoke are a little too feminine, in my opinion.  So I’m simply going to leave them out, and I think this will be the perfect project:  classic colors and sillouette to satisfy stylish parents; reasonable care for new parents; and, to be honest, an acceptable level of investment (both time and emotion) for an olive branch when I’m not sure if it will be grasped when offered.



  1. Good for you. In both ways. Knitters are the nicest people!

  2. I agree with you, that you’re knitting something for the baby first and foremost and there isn’t any wrong in baby knits!

    You know how it goes – as we knit, we think of the recipient, our hopes for them and the curiosity of what they will be as they wear what we’ve made with love.

    No matter if a baby or an old friend.

    No matter if they (or their parent) really don’t understand they are donning a hand-knit item that was made while thinking of them.

    It’s what we do 😀

    The baby will be wrapped in Love, as knitted by you, and what else matters?

  3. Sometimes, its the little things that count. Perhaps knitting this will help heal your heart toward him… and maybe this good woman will help him realize the work and love that went into it.

    Either way, it’s all good.

  4. I think it will be WIN-WIN project for you. Either they will accept the branch and you will be on the path to regaining a friendship, and if not at least you will know you did what you could to extend the branch. Good thoughts your waY!


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