A Mother’s Love, Knitted Up in a Flock of Turkey Hats
I made a beanie, converting from the pattern, which was for a baby; needless to say, the calculations were complex. The author of the pattern, Elise Lopez, had helpfully added some suggestions for making larger sizes, for older children or adults. Even so, the first hat came out too small, too tight. I had to pull it out, or, as we say in the knitting world, frog it. Made another one, bigger this time, and made it a little longer than the pattern called for, so the wearer would have the option of cuffing the bottom. This one seemed right, so I started on the second, then the third. Worse comes to worst, I thought, if I never figure out the drumsticks part, they can be Team Brown Beanie. But I did not have the nerve to mention this to my daughter.
I was touched that my daughter, who would be unlikely to wear anything ostentatiously hand-knit, and can’t stand wool next to her skin, had made this request. It implied faith: My mom can do it, my mom can knit anything! Although actually, my daughter’s regular somewhat anxious check-ins carried more the suggestion that I was the kind of poor planner who might easily make the wrong number of hats, or make hats with the wrong number of turkey legs.
I felt intimidated by the legs, and especially by the fact that they had to be stuffed. I am fairly experienced with stuffing turkeys, and in fact, I make two different stuffings every Thanksgiving, in order to resolve the tension between the chestnut-herb people and the sausage faction (and yes, I do stuff the turkey, with the chestnut-herb stuffing, and yes, I know the experts say not to, but they’re full of, well, stuffing).
I ordered some fiber fill stuffing. It was apparently sold by the bale; a package arrived with enough to stuff several life-size Thanksgiving turkeys, if they happened to be made of yarn. I knitted the first drumstick, a brown yarn lollipop with a white shaft. I stuffed the brown ball of the lollipop, then the brown and white shaft, which ended in a little scalloped knob. Seven to go.
I made and stuffed my eight drumsticks. I made my four brown stretchy hats. I had to recuse myself from some of the other traditional Thanksgiving preparations, like moving the piles of unread mail off the dining room table, or shifting the heaps of newspaper out of the living room, because I was frantically sewing drumsticks onto watchcaps, trying to attach them firmly so they wouldn’t flop around, trying to get them at the appropriate angle, and keep each hat symmetrical (again, I felt it would be bad luck to send anyone out for a footrace wearing a turkey with an obvious orthopedic abnormality).
Four turkey hats. On Thanksgiving morning, my two runners headed out early for Brooklyn, carrying the hats for the other two. As my reward, I stayed under the blankets a while, then got up and began to make my two stuffings.
My own favorite part of Thanksgiving morning is what my children call “stuffing breakfast,” a small bowl of fresh stuffing, after it’s been mixed but before it’s been baked, and I was able to have that ready for the turkey trotters when they returned, triumphant, cheeks red, turkey hats bobbing (stuffing breakfast is served only after the baking pans have been filled and the turkey stuffed — and yes, I rigorously separate everything that is going to touch the turkey, thank you very much).