|There's a hand-knit scarf in our scarf basket that gets used more than any other
one. It's the scarf we all reach for and hope is there when we are about to brave the prairie
winter. Wearing it brings me joy and warmth and pride. The knitter was my oldest daughter,
"Tell me about this scarf," I asked Meera recently. She was home for a visit. We
were in the kitchen having a cup of coffee. Mine was white with Coffeemate, her's black. A
former barista, she is now a coffee snob. I rebelled with my artificial whitener.
"Oh that scarf," she replied. She held it in her hand for a moment, checked over her
ancient handwork and passed it back. She took a sip of her sludge. "It's a road scarf,
Mom. Don't you remember? I made it on the way to Maplelag."
There are some moments mothers try to forget. I sipped my synthetic concoction and
remembered. Most winter breaks we all headed up to Maplelag, a cross country skier's paradise,
a resort in Callaway, Minnesota, five hours north of St. Paul, where we used to live, and ten
hours north of our current home in Iowa City.
Do I need to explain the degree of negotiation and co-operation needed to navigate all
those miles, that great distance with three kids in tow? Our division of labor: my husband was
the driver, I was the peace-keeper. The new yoga helped keep me on task.
In the front of our van, stored next to my feet was my secret weapon--the knitting bag.
Stuffed with all kinds of yarn, and armed with a supply of knitting needles, I was prepared
for the cranky and bored child. To the one who was beginning to wonder how she might create
some excitement, I would quickly hand a ball of yarn and some tools and say, "make
On the road, my maternal antennae were always tuned to potential border
disputes. Sometimes, as my kids grew older, I would get requests from the warring parties
before tension reached a dangerous level. Usually, Meera would ask what I had in my knitting
bag. Intuitive and fearless as only young knitters can be, she would begin with an idea, a
dream of a hat or scarf, and start to knit. Occasionally, there were questions: How do I make
a bobble? Can I see that new wool? Did I bring some of the alpaca left from the mittens I made
her in kindergarten?
That's how the road scarf was born. But what makes it special?
On cold winter mornings, preparing for my walk past open cornfields, frost clinging to
every last blade or dried stalk, I always grab Meera's road scarf. Winding it around my neck,
covering my mouth and face, I'm confident of its ability to protect me on my journey.
Is it the promise of warmth that keeps the members of my clan reaching for this scarf? Our
scarf basket is overflowing with warm hand-knit scarves. What is it about this scarf that
makes us choose it over and over again?
I think I know. The road scarf has Meera's signature. It's her personal statement of sorts.
The stitch patterns and yarn colors meander and change on her path of play and discovery. And
like the granny square afghans and patchwork quilts we search for in vintage stores, this is a
scarf that looks both homemade and handmade--never to be confused with a hand-knit scarf from
Gap or even Anthropology. It's an original. Flawed in places, like us. Wearing it, we feel
For crocheters, try the new Two-for-the-Road Scarf!