I learned to knit when I was 8 years old. Around the same time I met Augie. He played "Keep Away" with my bookbag on the school bus home as 8 year old boys are want to do.
I cried my eyes out that day until my Mom explained to me that sometimes boys do rotten things like that because they actually have a crush on the girl they torture most. Thus was the tenuous beginning to our friendship.
Augie became a part of my daily life. He became my best friend, we saw each other every day. We dug forts in the empty lot next to my house, we climbed the snow mountain the snow plow made at the end of my dead end street and we ran thru the sprinkler on his lawn in the heat of summer.
As we grew older, Augie used to come over after school to do homework together and when we finished we would watch TV. Often I would knit while we watched the Cosby Show and Family Ties.
Augie was always fascinated by my knitting, he would sit and watch me for hours and hours. Always one to multi-task, he was astounded that I could watch TV, have a conversation, listen to the radio and knit a sweater all at the same time!
And over the years Augie became my boyfriend as well as my best friend. We learned about life and love together and shared so many "firsts".... learning to drive, entering high school and first kisses.
For Augie's sixteenth birthday I wanted to knit him something special. I used the allowance money I had saved and had my mother take me to a "real" yarn shop as opposed to the Woolworth's or Times Square Store and the inexpensive, mostly acrylic yarns carried there.
I picked out the most delicious cream colored wool, soft and plump just waiting to be turned into something beautiful. I searched and searched and finally found the perfect pattern....a complex Aran with the most beautiful cabled patterns I had ever seen!
I worked on the sweater in secret, whenever Augie wasn't around. As the beautiful patterns developed I knew this would be something Augie would love and treasure forever!
His birthday finally arrived and I presented him with the sweater....and he was awestruck! He loved what he saw and despite it being June, he put the sweater on and only took it off because of impending heat stroke!
Augie loved that sweater almost reverently. He wore it often but only for occasions where there was no possibility of any "damage" occurring to his precious garment.....pity the waiter who spilled or the buddy who back-slapped with dirty hands! Until......
Somehow his beloved sweater got into the wrong wash pile!! Before she realized, his Mom had put Augie's sweater thru a hot wash!! What was the perfect Aran for a very buf 18 year old Augie now would be a good fit for GI Joe! Augie was devastated, so devastated the he didn't tell me for almost a year!!
By that time we were both in college and spending less time together as we both were growing in different directions. So much so that when graduation time grew near I decided to move out of state and that Augie and I would be better as "just friends" than anything more. He would always hold a special place in my heart but I needed to move on and spread my wings.
Cut to South Florida, circa 1995.....I was working a a Director of Infusion Services for the VNA of Miami. Our company was working closely with an infusion company whose owners name was Augie! Not my Augie, but a VERY unusual name outside of New York or New Jersey! So unusual that my Florida native, African-American secretary Stachia, would chuckle every time Augie called and finally asked me about the origin of such an odd name, hehe.... So I told her about my Augie...
Stachia, being engaged and about to be married, was full of the romance of young love. Hearing my story, she encouraged me to contact my Augie! We had completely lost touch, I had no idea if he was married or single or even living in New York anymore! With Stachia's urging I found an Augie with the same very unusual last name living fairly close to where we grew up but could this be my Augie?? I nervously dialed the number I got from information.....I got an answering machine with a mechcanical voice....I left one of *those* messages, "hi, I don't know if you know me but......" I left my work number and went home for the day.
The next morning when the answering service called in my messages, they told me they had been INUNDATED with calls from "some man named Augie"! In fact he had already called 4 times that morning and it wasn't even 8 am!! I very nervously dialed the number and this time, I spoke, for the first time in about 15 years, to MY AUGIE!
We caught up on our lives and renewed our friendship by phone. Over the impending years we've seen each other a few times but we speak on the phone at least once a week mostly because I have no desire to move back to a place where it snows and his business keeps him in New York, for now. He still knows me like no one else ever will, and I him.
My hiatus from knitting had been almost as long as my separation from Augie. When I returned to knitting in late 2002, my renewed interest in my childhood/young adult hobby sparked many memories in both of us, including Augie wistfully longing for the gorgeous (and shrunken) Aran of our youth!
For Augie's birthday in 2004 I decided it would be wonderful to re-visit the sweater he so loved when he was 16! I wanted something equally as classic as the original Aran but with a modern update for today. I chose "It's On The Tab" that was featured in Knitter's Magazine Winter 2003.
More than 20 years later, I present Augie's Aran, Take 2*:
I loved the modern twist of using 2 colors and the interesting design of the placket.
Every stitch of this sweater was pure joy....the yarn, the design and the sentimental value made it a perfect knit. I was sorry to actually finish it!
I mailed it to Augie. It was a complete surprise that actually made him cry when he opened it. When he called me that night all he could repeat was Deb, oh my god, Deb.....It was a perfect fit and we were both so happy!
In the subsequent years, I've knit Augie 3 pairs of socks as well. He was the recipient of these:
So does this tale of friendship spanning over 30 years have a happy ending? Well, yes and no.....
You see Augie remembers the fate of his last sweater low those many years ago so he's afraid to "ruin" this one and the other handknits I've made him! No matter how many times I've explained that even if the WORST happens and he ruins or wears out his handknits, it's ALL good 'cause I like to knit and that way I'll get to knit MORE for him! I've explained this til my lips practically fall off yet the sweater remains in his closet like a precious memorial, wrapped in tissue paper and placed in a plastic sweater bag, lovingly taken out and admired now and again but never worn. Sure, when he received it he took it to show all his friends - he even took it to a local yarn shop to show it off! But he's never worn it for more than a few minutes.
His handknit socks suffer the same lonely fate. He's often threatened to devise a frame to showcase the socks so he can look but never touch because he "can't bear to desecrate their beauty!"
Until two weeks ago!! It was quite cold in New York that weekend, he complained how cold his feet were on the cold wood floor....of course I again admonished him for not wearing his handknit socks, figuring I'd start small :)
And he finally agreed!! He wore the entrelac camo socks to dinner with friends that night....I know this because he called me from the restaurant and had his friends tell me how much they liked the socks because he took them off and showed everyone! (BTW, Augie has a little um, OCD and showers at least twice a day so showing off socks at the dinner table isn't quite as creepy as it sounds, hehe) He even wore another pair the next day too!!
Yes, F is for friendship! My friend of more than 30 years finally wore his handknit socks! It's not the sweater but it's a start......and I'm hopeful :)
*please forgive the horrible photography, taking these pics back in 2004 was the first time I ever used my digital camera!