Scratchy sweaters

Another reason for Kate’s intermittent musical career was the way competing artistic inspirations would “possess her,” Rufus says, “almost to a point of mania.” If she was baking cookies, Kate made hundreds of gingerbread skis that replicated, right down to the intricately sugared bindings, those she learned on as a girl in the Laurentian Mountains. If Kate was knitting Norwegian sweaters, these, too, were produced in profusion, with the traditional snowflakes whimsically arrayed across woolen skies all her own. People close to Kate McGarrigle describe a woman radiant and blunt, and you can see it in those sweaters. “Today people prefer soft wools,” Martha says. “She liked only scratchy Quebec wool. She liked the pain of it. She was always slightly dubious about people who wouldn’t wear scratchy sweaters.”