New Member Karen Parsons
Feb 14, 2023
The art of needlecraft is a skill I never mastered but have always admired. I love the way yarns of different colors are joined to create patterns. I love seeing skeins of yarn arranged in rows of colors like a jumbo box of crayons. I was reminded of these images in my conversation with Karen Parsons; I found myself thinking of her as a knitter. Instead of scarves and afghans, Karen knits relationships and connections. The tools of her craft are not knitting needles, hanks of yarn, and blocking mats but rather places, people, and food.
Some of us understand how one can be connected to a place or landscape. Karen shares this with us. Galveston — the city, her neighborhood and neighbors, the tropical flora, and sandy beaches — is the life blood that flows through her heart and psyche. In this place, she knits connections with family and friends. For many years, she ran or bicycled along the streets of her neighborhood; one might have seen her running to the sound of music coming through her wireless ear buds. Now she enjoys walking in her neighborhood, enjoying the beautiful gardens and the people she encounters or enjoying breakfast at the Lil’ Buffalo Grill. Galveston has also been the place she knitted family together with holiday gatherings, especially Christmas. Those gatherings have changed over time, but Karen adapts and continues to knit those connections.
Traveling also knits connections for Karen. She knits into the tapestry of her traveling experiences strong familial ties and friendships. She loves traveling with her husband Jim, treasuring the uninterrupted time that allows them to concentrate on each other as they share conversations and thoughts. She loves her family trips, and two memorable ones came to mind as we talked. One was to England and Scotland in 1986 with her son. The other was a two-month road trip in an RV to Alaska in 2018, traveling along the AlCan Highway, driving through national parks in Canada and the US, and experiencing the sights of the Yukon. When they visited Denali National Park, their granddaughter joined them for three weeks. During this time, the three of them went white water rafting to fish for salmon. Although she loved so much about this trip, she still carries a memory that causes her some distress — the manner in which the salmon were harvested after being caught. Karen also shared fond memories of traveling with a group of special women friends that began in 1983. They have traveled to the mountains, to the Caribbean, and to Florida, maintaining and nourishing the love friends have for each other through all the challenges of time.
Karen uses another tool to knit connections with friends and family — food. She has over 1,000 recipes she keeps on a cooking app. These recipes serve her well. She hosts her husband’s book club in their home and has cooked a dinner for them at every meeting since August 2001. I think that the flow and synergy of ideas and the bond these men have shared for 21 years rests in part to Karen’s knitting an environment where the men gather at a table over a shared meal, claiming that each meal is the best one. Karen also uses her talent at cooking to knit her connection with her family. Her family loves her pancakes, biscuits, and French toast; their go to meal for birthdays is chicken and homemade dumplings (a three hour process). Karen’s interest in cooking isn’t just about cooking. Cooking is the tool she uses to convey her love. She knits together the ingredients of meals to create memories and to communicate how special each person is to her. Karen makes these specialities not to earn a cooking award but to make those she loves feel cherished and special.
I also learned that Karen felt a responsibility to knit connections in her community. When she was younger and new to Palestine, she wanted the people of this city and her neighbors to know that she had a sincere desire to be a part of this community. To that end she joined clubs and organizations where she invested her time and energy in her city of choice. I think Karen achieved that goal. She is a valued and respected member of our community.
Over time the connections that Karen has nurtured have faced the challenges and changes that life brings. Skilled knitters, like Karen, know how to pick up dropped stitches and twist and weave in new colors. Karen is a masterful knitter who knows how to knit the richness of life and all of its colors into a beautiful afghan of love.