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The story goes that before my mom and dad were married, she knit him three pairs of cashmere argyle socks. Or, maybe it was two pairs. Probably gray and navy. Definitely classic looking. My mom easily could have made a sweater for him, but socks were less serious. Eventually someone put them in the wash and shrank them. What a loss!

My father is a dapper dresser, so I could imagine him wearing the socks. Handmade socks seem so basic, yet completely extravagant. How warm and elegant it is to wear on your feet something that someone you love made for you.

My mother does not do baking. She shows her concern and affection by making sure you are suitably clothed. She has made my father other things over the years: Lopi, tweeds, and mohair. The sweaters and scarves tend to be heavy, bulky, and lumpy, like physical manifestations of a big, warm hug.

My father, Joe, on the other hand, does not really make things. He reads and writes and sometimes does collage. His way of expressing love is through listening, talking, and writing. He appreciates art and literature and nature. I have saved the many letters and poems he has written to me over the years in a big box. And over the years we have enjoyed lovely times walking, talking and looking at art together. If my mother has influenced my making things, then my father has influenced my expression through words and art. Their personalities and parenting somehow struck a balance from which I have greatly benefited.

Recently my brother needed some TLC. My mom and I thought it best to make him a winter sweater. It would help my mother occupy her thoughts while producing something cozy for him to wear. I strongly advocated for a vest, since I believed it would be both comfortable and stylish. She found a pattern, the Alberta, a striped vest by Jared Flood. She would make it in a single color, a taupe baby alpaca/merino wool yarn. I have to admit the color was not my first choice. It didn’t seem like my brother. I watched to see how it would unfold.

As she was knitting the vest, she kept saying to me that it might be too big for my brother. It is hard to tell the size while knitting on a round needle, she said. Midway through, it was obvious it was too big. My father, watching the progress, offered to take the vest. Did he like it, or was he being kind? My mother decided to keep working on it.

It was a quick project. When it was finished, my father put it on and loved it. He says it is the warmest sweater he’s ever had. The color, style and size fit him perfectly. He looks very smart in it. Perhaps he should carry a pipe when wearing it.

Here he is in his vest it as he does his daily walk through Central Park. It is his time to reflect and sort out his thoughts. I now think that he was the one that needed the hug, which he got in the form of a perfect sweater.

Sometimes gifts find their way to those who really need them. When asked, my father told me the exact number and specific colors of those argyle socks my mother made for him over fifty years ago.

My mother has already moved on to making the right sweater, perfectly sized, for my brother.


Watercolor illustrations by Amy Routman.

About The Author

Amy Routman is an architect and designer living and working in New York City.

The daughter of a consummate knitter and sewer, Amy has spent years looking at knitting pattern books and fashion magazines with her mother, and is excited to explore the art of knitting through her watercolor illustrations.

Follow Amy on Instagram to see her latest illustrations, art and design work.


  • thank you for this beautiful story!

    • So glad you enjoyed it!

  • Nice story! I wonder if my hubby would like a vest…he loves the socks I made him!

  • Just asked him and he said he doesn’t think he could pull off that look. Worth asking! I never knew his stance on the topic! 🙂

    • You will have to make him another pair of socks then! 🙂

  • I look forward to the emails with the “snippets”, features and stories. I Enjoy both new information on knitting, music, artists, etc. So very much. This story was especially sweet. Thank you!

    • Thank you Julie!

  • Lovely

    • This article was like a warm cozy sweater vest. Thank you

      • I’m delighted you enjoyed it Jo!

  • Love the story and the illustrations!

    • Thank you Lois!

  • Very enjoyable story. A lovely way to start the day.

    • So pleased you enjoyed it, Carmen!

  • My mother knit one pair of argyle socks for my father and never knit anything again, but I loved them and still own them. I was such a weird kid that I would ride my bike to the only knitting store to watch the ladies knit and I observed everything. The ladies in the back room were putting together the knitted pieces of the rich women. My girl scout class had us make a cardigan. But it wasn’t until I took a class from a friend of Meg Swanson’s that I finally learned to really knit.

    • Thanks for sharing your story! How lovely that you have the argyle socks.

  • Wonderful story! Love your daily ‘notes’ they are always informative, witty and its like getting a note from a friend. Thank you for your daily ‘snippets’!

    • So glad you enjoyed the story!

  • Such a feel good story…Loved it!

    • Thank you Lanee!!!

  • Amy,
    Your story of the knitted argyle socks brought back a woderful memory. My Christmas gift to my father, when I was a year old, was a pair of argyle socks. They were not hand knit but were wool and worn regularly for many years. I was about twelve when one sock developed a hole, which was darned and continued in rotation for some time. My mom stated the socks were faded but still warm and dense, providing soft cushioning. So glad to have the story of this first gift of socks! My sock knitting is slow but savored as wool is my preference for warm feet.

    • What a lovely memory Mary! Thank you for sharing it. I am going to take a stab at socks myself. Though I don’t think I can do argyle!

  • ❤️❤️❤️

  • Lovely ❤️

  • I love this. The knitting finds its home. There’s more where that came from, as my own dad loves to say.

    • Love that phrase! Glad you enjoyed the story!

  • You write as well as you paint! Bravo! Wonderful!!

    • Thank you Natalia!!!

  • I’m always excited to see what you have to say and illustrate! Thank you so much for the story of the perfect gift, even if the recipient was unintended. As you say: they find their way into the right hands.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Julia!!!

  • What a tender story. Your drawings are jjust delightful. Thank you.

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