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I have written about Genie and Ed McCliment before—long ago for a knitting newsletter, and later, in my book, A Knitter’s Home Companion. This is my farewell piece to them.

They were good friends and good neighbors. Genie died almost a decade ago, in 2011, and Ed, just recently, on June 1, 2020. During the years we knew them, we shared meals, stories, a bat mitzvah, three graduations, and in Genie’s case, her recipe for killer deviled eggs.

They were newly retired when we met them, and I suppose the shape of their leisurely days was still evolving. I am not sure how Genie spent her mornings, likely reading in her favorite chair by the fireplace. She loved novels, poems, and a roaring fire.

I do know what Ed did. For years on end, every morning, no matter what the weather dished us, he would walk with Sophie, their yellow lab. Their destination never varied—Dan’s Short Stop. Ed and Sophie were creatures of habit.

At Dan’s, Sophie got a treat. Ed did, too—a cup of coffee and the New York Times. Often on my morning walk, I would see Ed making his way home, coffee cup in one hand, New York Times in the other. I have no idea how he managed Sophie’s leash. We would stop and chat about our families, politics, watercolors, and once, Iowa football. Genie and Ed were Hawkeye fans and held season tickets.

One fiercely bitter day, Ed asked if I might make him a hat to keep his ears warm on his walks. At the time, I was a world-class winterizer. Before moving back to Iowa City, we lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the winters there taught me a great deal about knitting robust warmth.

Overnight, I whipped up a simple bulky watch cap. It was a success, although sometimes Ed didn’t wear it in the way I had intended, with thick cuff rolled down for doubled warmth.

Through the years, I would knit him other hats, including one in the Hawkeyes’ team colors, gold and black, but none as warm as the first. I also knit a more dapper, lighter hat for Genie. After she died, Ed gave me her yarn and a monogrammed case that held her knitting needles. Tucked inside a pocket of the case, I found patterns I had written and given to her, including the one for Ed’s Hat.

“They are together now.”

That was the text I received from Ed’s next-door neighbor, Ken, who played Big Ten basketball for Iowa in the late 1960s. The day before Ken had let me know that Ed was losing the Covid battle.

“What do you mean, ‘they are together now’?”  I wrote back. Knowing full well what he meant.

“5pm,” Ken replied.

The time was an odd comfort and I was grateful Ken took care to include it. The time gave me a place to stop the news and the constant worries, and instead reflect on our friend and neighbor. I thought about the first hat I made Ed and how knitting can solve everyday problems, like cold ears.

Knitting can bring forth wonders: dishrags that do the job in beauty and style, socks that cradle even the smallest of feet in woolly comfort, and shawls that drape shoulders with an airy elegance. And yet, on some days of our great unease, I can’t help but wish my knitting was more. A superpower, maybe. A truth, though, is a very good thing hold onto in hard times, and this I know to be true: a warm hat is always welcomed on winter’s day.

Illustrations by Michelle Edwards

MDK receives a commission for books purchased through affiliate links in this article.

About The Author

Michelle Edwards writes about family, friendship, and community. Her work chronicles the large and small victories and defeats of everyday life. She frequently posts her illustrations on Instagram, her website, and at StudioScrawls, her Etsy store.


  • My heart is holding you & all of Genie & Ed’s friends & loved ones. Thank you for this beautiful story. Connections between friends matter so much & the threads & fibers that hold us together start with love.

    • You are so right about our connections with friends and the threads and fibers that start with love. They give breath to our lives. Thank you.

    • This was such a lovely story to share.

      • Thank you, Cindy.

  • Thank you for such a beautiful story. And thank you for continuing to use the most important superpower we all have access to– love. It shows in your knitting and your writing.

  • That is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story with us

    • Thank you for writing, Jennifer.

  • Michelle, I’m so sorry for your sad loss. I wept when I read that he died of Covid – what I consider to have been preventable if only things had been saner. Thank you so much for this beautiful essay.

    • I wept, too, for all of it. Thank you for writing.

  • This is a beautiful tribute to two special people in your life. May you find peace and solace in that they are finally and truly back together again.

    • Thank you. I like thinking of them together, drinking scotch by an evening’s fire. Together again.

  • In small worldiness, I might have met Ken since I roomed with a family in Iowa city whose son was on the team and those guys were always around. Lovely story.

    • Iowa City connections make a small world. So many have passed through our little city. Thanks for writing. I’ll let Ken know you did. He loves that kind of thing, too.

  • You always touch my heart ❤️

    • So kind of you to let me know. Thank you.

  • Thank you for this lovely and loving story this morning, the first thing I read after a restless sleep worrying about the election results, the virus, sigh…you know the story. I was so low, and it reminded me of all my yarn waiting for me to knit all the warm hats my family loves to wear, especially with cold New England winter days looming. Michelle’s story has inspired me and lifted my spirits.

    • Knit on, Diane. Hats are the thing. Thanks for writing.

    • Like knitting, we interconnect in surprising, intricate and beautiful ways. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

  • Thank you for this beautiful story.

    • Thanks for writing. Be well.

  • Thank you for this beautiful story!

    • Thanks, Patricia, for posting this.

  • Beautiful farewell tribute Michelle. Made me cry for all the loss we’ve suffered this year

    • KCKNITS, thank you for writing. Stay strong and knit on!

  • In this time of who’s going to win and questioning values; this was a beautiful and kind way to start my Friday. Thank you.

    • I hope that good feeling sticks around. Be well.

  • As an obsessive hat knitter, your story is special to me. Most of mine go to a local charity, although I let my family choose the ones they believe they need before the others are delivered. This was al ovely story that touched my heart, and I am sure I will be re-reading it often

    • Thank you, Ellen. Being an obsessive hat knitter must be very rewarding. Keeping heads warm could be a fulltime job. Thank you for writing and for all your good work.

  • Loved the story you shared. As I read through it, I thought the art looked familiar. Whenever my grands come to visit, they insist I read, A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love, to them.

    • Thank you for writing, Sara. I am glad you and your family enjoy A Hat for Mrs. Goldman. The book’s lovely art isn’t mine, though. It was done by Brian Karas.

  • Thank you for posting this beautiful story. We all needed it at this time to restore our faith in good people like Michele. I, too, am sorry for the loss of your friends.

    • Thank you, Eileen. On a grassroots level, I continue to meet the kindest most amazing folk. They are everywhere and give me great hope.

  • Thank you for sharing your beautiful story and how we make a difference in the lives of those around us. We are a community.

    • Thank you, Linda. We must never give up our hope.

  • Such a lovely story about what matters. And beautiful illustrations. I think I will put aside the shawl I am working on and knit a bulky hat today for someone I love in Ed’s memory. Care to post those knitting instructions in case others want to as well, Michelle?

    • Thanks for writing, Vicki. Here’s Ed’s Hat. A quick knit so you can finish your shawl!

      Ed’s Hat
      Yarn: A super Bulky Yarn of yourn choice. If you are making this for someone else, be sure to check out their coat color. It’s always nice to make a hat that matches the recipient’s winter apparel. When in doubt, knit a basic color like navy, brown, oatmeal green or black.

      Needles: size 13 or whatever needles give you the gauge of approximately 2.25 stitches per inch. Get a set of double point needles. I prefer bamboo, aluminum in this size are a bit clunky.
      Notions: A stitch marker will come in handy when you are decreasing at the top where you need to know when you are starting a new round.

      The Pattern

      Cast On
      Take a deep breath, and relax. Now cast on 44 stitches. Be careful here to make your cast on row loose and elastic. If it’s too tight, the hat will be hard to put on.

      The Brim
      This very deep folded brim is what gives Ed’s Hat extra warmth. And the rib keeps it snug.
      Round 1: Knit 2, Purl 2
      You will continue the rib (knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches) for 5.5 inches

      The Body
      Now you will switch to stockinette stitch. Since you are knitting this hat in the round continue to knit until the hat measures 9 inches.

      Crown Shaping
      Remember the marker you placed at the beginning of the round? Here’s where you need it. It’s easy when you are knitting the body of the hat to forget where a round begins and ends. Now you must pay attention.

      Round 1 *1 knit 5, k2 together,* 6 times
      Round 2 Knit
      Round 3 *Knit 4, Knit 2 together* 6 times
      By now you’ve probably figure out where we are going with this decrease. But there are knitting days when it really helps to have everything written out. Just in case you’re having one of those days, I’ll continue writing the instructions.
      Round 4 Knit
      Round 5 *Knit 3, Knit 2 together* 6 times
      Round 6 Knit
      Round 7 *Knit 2, knit 2 together* 6 times
      Round 8 Knit
      Round 9 *Knit 1, Knit 2 together* 6 times
      Round 10 Knit
      Round 11 Knit 2 together 6 times

      Cut yarn, leaving approximately 15-20”; with yarn needles, draw yarn through remaining stitches and pull tight.

  • Thank you again, Michelle, for touching our hearts.

    • Thank you, Mary Lou.

  • This is a special story about friendship and love. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • This means a lot to me.

  • Thank you for this beautiful story; trying hard not cry, but the tears are here.

    • It was good to share Genie and Ed for this farewell story. They will always be missed.

  • Thank you for this beautiful post

    • Thanks for writing, Barb. Be well!

  • Lovely story.

    • Thank you, Monica!

  • Your art is your superpower!

    • Thank you. Art is my heartsong.

  • This was beautiful and reiterated that some days it’s ok to solve little problems like cold ears.

    • Thank you, Dawn. … it’s ok to solve little problems like cold ears — and I probably should add cold feet.

  • Thank you so much for a beautifully written, touching perspective this morning.

    • Thank you for writing, Dawn. Be well.

  • Such a lovely story. The comfort of gentle routines, love of home and hearth, and all the memories knit together with love. Love to all. Thank you for sharing so many beautiful stories and illustrations.

    • Thank you for writing, Deneise. It does mean a lot to me to hear from readers and know my work resonates.

  • Thank you so much for your article about Ed and Genie. And thank you also for your warm and friendly writing, like a toasty comforter on a snowy day (which it is today here in Alaska). I given a copy of your book, A Knitter’s Home Companion, and that is just what it is to me. Thank you for the hug!

    • Thank you for such a sweet post. Stay warm and knit on!

  • This is lovely <3
    (And yes, I went right to Amazon and picked up Knitter's Home Companion!)

    • Thanks, Emily! I hope you enjoy A Knitter’s Home Companion. Be sure to check out Genie’s Hat and her Killer Devilled Eggs recipe.

  • This is lovely. Thank you.

    • Your post means a lot to me. Stay well.

    • I appreciate hearing from you. Knit on!

  • Thank you for sharing this. I really needed this.

    • Jo M, just telling about Genie and Ed gives me strength, and I am glad to know they were there for you as well.

  • What a sweet story. Thank you so much for posting this.

    • Cynthia, I love sharing Genie and Ed with others. They were people who loved people.

  • Such a dear story and your illustrations remind me of Roz Chast’s. Being a native Iowa Citian and now in New England, I can attest, as all knitters can, to how welcome a warm hat can be in the wind, rain, snow, and sleet (did I say wind?) of harsh winters, especially those in the Midwest where the winds have no place to stop until they hit the Adirondacks!

    • Good to hear from you on this windy day. You know Iowa weather; those fierce days when it feels as if the wind could carry you west, too. Maybe leaving you in Nebraska.

  • A lovely story. Thank you.
    A Hat for Mrs. Goldman is one of my favorite books – to both read and give as a gift.

    • A hearty thanks from me and Mrs. Goldman.

  • If your knitting creates warmth for someone who is cold, your knitting IS more. Thanks for this affirming story in challenging times.

    • No doubt a warm hat has a job to do, and it does that well. Thanks for writing.

  • What a beautiful story of friendship and tribute to your friends. ❤️

    • Thank you, Diane.

  • Thank you. This was lovely. I started a hat for my daughter today…

    • Knit on, Jill. A hat for daughter is a very fine thing.

  • I am so sorry for your loss. I live next door to neighbors who have become dear friends. We know each other’s routines, we’ve looked after each other’s kids and pets, shared many backyard barbeques. We watched their son leave for college this fall, they know the times and routes of my dog walks. We’ve got keys to each other’s houses. I taught one of them to knit, he loves it and is currently obsessed with making socks. Friendships with neighbors are a precious thing (only improved when you can share knitting, one way or another).

    • How lovely, Wanda! I especially like how you nurtured a sock knitter. May you all stay well!

  • This is a beautiful story. Beautifully written. The best thing about Snippets today. Thank you.

    • What a nice to write! Thank you.

  • Very, very touching. i was moved to tears while still in my pajamas on an early Saturday morning.

    I take heart with the new thought that my knitting can be my superpower. It may be time to start sending out some of those things I was stockpiling for Holiday gifts. No reason to wait to spread a little knitting love.

    Thanks for sharing. xoxo

    • Spreading a little knitting love just as the weather turns cold this Covid year is a brilliant idea! Thanks for writing!

  • What a tender and heartfelt story. Thank you.

    • Good to hear from you, Jean! Stay well.

  • Thank you, dear Michelle, for your lovely story. And I am am pleased for this opportunity to contact you: you sent me such a wonderful card about Elizabeth, but no address for me to respond. I will thank you here: Thank You ! Meg

    • So nice to meet you here, Meg! So good to know my card arrived. Next time I will remember to include my return address. Stay warm and be well. Always.

  • A heartwarming story on a glorious day of new beginnings.

    • Thank you, Renee!

  • Michelle, thank you. Thank you for sharing Ed and Genie with us, and for your memories of Ed. I teared up reading, appreciating the love and connection.

    • Genie and Ed opened their door and welcomed us and so many others. It’s an honor to share them, Thanks for writing.

  • I loved this story – it brings home the magic of knitting and how it can connect people especially in this time of crises. I am sorry for the loss of your fellow soul.

    • Thank you, Sylvia. Knitting has that way of helping us connect and give to us. Knit on!

  • Michelle- thank you for this beautiful tribute to your friends. I am sorry for your loss. I was especially touched because I live in MN, and my teenage daughter has started a non-profit that knits warm hats for those in need. As you can imagine, we are knee-deep in hat knitting right now, as winter arrives. I am sharing your story with her.

    • What a great non-profit venture! I wrote a picture book about a hat knitter who knit for others, and I know that Mrs. Goldman (the knitter) would be thrilled to know about the good work you and your daughter are doing. Knit on!!

  • Good to surf and find knitting. I’m fast nearing 85 now and some of the intricacies of sweaters are becoming more difficult (dragons, pandas, Santa,) but it just takes longer. Most of my time now is spent making mittens for preschool and all other little ones whom I may encounter. I carry two or three pair with me and almost always come home with an empty stash. we are fast becoming dinosaurs. My hope is this craft/art form will continue. Did I mention that my husband (age 89) also knits stocking caps and gives them away in the same manner)

    • Janet, you just made my day! You and your husband are inspiring! Knit on.

  • What a wonderful story, it warms my heart.

  • I have lost the directions for Kitchener to seam two sections together!! SOS!!

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