If Elaine, a.k.a. GrannysKnits, could, she would knit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Her day job at estelleinc.com with Cindy (a.k.a. CiCiBianca) and after-hours Etsy shop both fall in line with her creative career. But her world was rocked when this grandmother became a mother again. Read about how this inspiring member of our community knits together her gifts as a caretaker and her passion for fiber arts.
According to some friends, I’ve been knitting since before I was born. Actually, when I was in first grade, I received five dollars as a birthday present. I went to the five-and-dime with some cousins, and I bought some of Aunt Lydia’s rug yarn, large knitting needles, and a Learn How to Knit book. Little did I know this would lead to a lifetime passion! I made slippers, afghans, and then started designing Barbie doll clothes. When I was in junior high, I wanted a mohair sweater. Since my babysitting money wouldn’t stretch to buy mohair yarn, I bought a brushed yarn that cost a lot less, and I made a couple of sweaters. Those were all the rage then!
I went away to college to become a special education teacher. While there, I met and married my then husband, and we had a daughter in 1974. He was in the service, which is how we ended up moving to Maine. Our second daughter was born in 1977. Wow, two sweet little girls to knit for — sweaters, hats, mittens… I loved making baby/toddler/children’s clothes.
When my daughters were teens, we moved to Arizona. That year, I became a professional knitter, working for a wonderful small business, making women’s knits for boutiques all over the country. The fact that I was always knitting during breaks, and while commuting, prompted the owner to ask if I ever had any “down time.”
In 1998, I became a grandmother. My younger daughter had a little boy, Jordan, who became the “love of my life.” He was premature, and VERY tiny. By his first birthday, he was diagnosed with developmental delays. When he was two, my daughter and I started suspecting something more serious. We started researching, and managed to get appointments with a top autism specialist, who diagnosed significant autism.
Three weeks later, my entire world was rocked. My daughter had gone to karaoke, and she never came home; she was killed in an accident.
In one moment, I lost my younger daughter and became mom to a two-year-old with autism. My boss at work was amazing, let me work at home, because my boy needed constant care. He started waking up at least five or six times a night, screaming. Cuddling an autistic toddler can be a challenge, but over the next several months, he started accepting the holding and cuddling.
I was sleeping with “one ear open” because he wasn’t sleeping through the night. Add that to the fact that I was crying myself to sleep every night over the loss of my daughter. Still, I had to get up in the morning and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I turned to knitting in a big way, to relax. Sitting there, watching Jordan, or TV, while knitting relaxed me — I loved making baby things!
Four years ago, I became grandma again, when my older daughter had a little boy, Damian. The blanket that I knitted during her pregnancy has always been his favorite. There have been several times when he didn’t want to give up a sweater that I knit when he outgrew it. I love that, because we live so far apart, and he knows Grandma Elaine makes him sweaters, hats, mittens… and his blankie.
Elaine, her two grandsons Damian and Jordan, and their Grandpa Steve
GrannysKnits grew out of all the baby and toddler items I was knitting. Two years ago, a friend at work told me about Etsy — thanks, Valerie of crochetgal! Since I couldn’t do actual craft shows, this sounded like a great solution. I registered, and started listing items. My photography skills are non-existent, so that’s been a big challenge. I bought a digital camera that had a review from a woman whose seven-year-old grandchild could use it — perfect! Etsy is great; I can buy and sell, from the comfort of our home — no worries about weather, transportation, or bad days that my boy may be having.
Since then, I have been busy creating new items and meeting new friends in the Etsy Forums. I’ve joined some Teams, including several dealing with autism and Createability. I want to thank cindylouwho2 for suggesting I write this post for the Etsy Blog. Also, I want to thank several wonderful ladies who have been there for me in bad times, and good, and have unselfishly helped with business and photography questions (which I quite possibly drive them crazy with): Anna at ImogensGarden, Jen at GoldtoneDesigns, Sandra at AmyRoseDesigns, and Jackie at Totzhatz. There are more friends who have helped by photographing their beautiful children wearing GrannysKnits. I love to chat in the Forums, and having friends all over the place!
I’m currently trying to figure out how to get more hours in a day. There are days that I think I must be knitting 24 hours, and spending 30 hours with my (grand)son. Jordan calls me Mom, has no idea that he had another mommy — he doesn’t understand things that he can’t see or touch. It’s worth every second when he tells me “You’re my favorite mommy in the world!”
Our favorite song contains the line “take my hand, take my whole life, too.” I’ve been singing it with him for years. People tell me that he’s so lucky to have me. They’re wrong, it’s the other way around. I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other each day, and he will, too!
Thanks to Elaine for sharing her inspiring story! Do you know a mom whose love perseveres through difficult challenges? Tell us about her in the comments below.