The most important scarf ever

obachan in her scarfScarves are among the easiest things to knit, so they tend to be ubiquitous amongst knitters, especially as gifts. But this scarf is very different, very special, and one I will never forget knitting.

A few weeks ago my hubby and I got back from an an extended trip to Japan to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary, and to meet up with my Japanese family. It has been nearly 15 years since I was last in Japan, and my family there have never met my hubby, so that in itself was a momentous occasion. To me, the other big deal about this trip was that it may be the last time I get to see my 93 year old grandmother (obachan in Japanese). She is an amazing woman, and I can see where my mother gets her amazing-ness. I hope that even just a little bit of this wow-factor has trickled down into me.

I started knitting this scarf for my obachan before I left England, hoping to finish it during my travels around Japan before we headed to Beppu, where she lives. I ended up frantically knitting on the train to Beppu, getting motion sickness as a result, and only finishing moments before we disembarked. It was worth it, though.

You see, my obachan was a keen crafter when she was younger, and my mother has some fantastically detailed amigurumi (little crocheted animals) that she made. I hope these will be passed down to me, just like the skill of crochet, which went from my obachan, to my mother, to me. My obachan also made all of her children’s clothes, when the family were forced out of Manchuria during the occupation in WWII. They had nothing but rags, yet my obachan made do, and managed to instill in all of the children an incredibly positive outlook on life that pervades the family to this day. The ability to make something from nothing was also passed down to my mother, and I like to think a little bit has rubbed off on me, too.

But I digress: back to the scarf. Because she has such an appreciation of handicrafts, my obachan was thrilled to receive the scarf. It didn’t matter that she speaks no English and my Japanese is pretty awful: we could both tell that the gift was something much more than just a little bit of fabric to wrap around your neck. It was something that transcends generations, cultures and time, and brought two people closer together.

She also loved it for other, more simple reasons: the colour is her favourite (which I had no idea), it was done in a stitch that she hadn’t learned herself (seed / moss stitch), and she was really intrigued by the keyhole, which she had never seen before. Overall, a resounding success, that made me want to knit even more. I only hope I get the chance to give her another gift made from my hands someday.


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Miko Coffey
Miko Coffey
Miko is addicted to crafting, and can often be found late at night drooling over Ravelry, or muttering "just one more row...". At last count, she had 187 different kinds of yarn in her stash, and is currently seeking storage for more. Ch2 and turn.