Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A yarn about yarn

Irish Diamonds is finished.

And it's huge.

It's more like a cape than a shawl. I think I love it.

I made this from Bartlettyarns 2-ply fisherman's wool in Blackberry. It's not the recommended yarn for this pattern. And it's not what I originally intended to make from the yarn. My plan was to knit an Aran sweater -- a twin to the one I made my brother almost 20 years ago, during the summer I really became a knitter.

My 3-year-old son and I had gone to a cottage in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. It belonged to my ex's aunt, and she wasn't using it that year. So we were blessed with a free stay in a home overlooking Boothbay Harbor, on a balsam-covered island, during a summer that was, at least in my memory, sunny every day.

My ex was supposed to join us after two weeks, and then we'd drive home together.

He "forgot" to get his plane ticket.

Which meant I had 11 weeks alone in Maine with a 3-year-old, no TV to speak of, and not enough to read.

But there was a yarn store in town. All she sold was Bartlettyarn from Harmony, Maine. It may not have been the softest, but it came in heathery colors and still smelled a little like sheep. Somehow, it went with the rocky coast. I bought enough to make a sweater from Maine Island Kids. It had a little sailboat and some fir trees on it.

Then I made two more -- with apple orchards and chickens.

I made a Christmas stocking for a new nephew.

I made a sweater with intarsia loons on the front for my then-husband. The irony does not escape me.

Then I began the Aran sweater.

It was for my brother, who was my best friend. He came to visit me in Maine and we shopped for just the right pattern. He wanted a cardigan, no collar, and classic creamy wool. The Bartlettyarn was perfect for this project, and the yarn store owner had the perfect, out-of-print pattern, which she gave me.

I cast on that summer, and knit about half of it -- but then life and other, smaller sweaters got in the way.

When I finally picked it up again, the pattern was gone -- tossed in the trash by my then-husband. I was not as yet proficient enough to carry on without a clear map, and thought I'd have to rip back. But, amazingly, I found the pattern in a tiny, old yarn store in Tecumseh.

I finished the sweater just in time for Christmas that year. My brother loved it, took it to work, and wore it often.

A couple of years ago, I was on a fiber and winery tour in the Fingerlakes region of New York and bought this yarn. I planned to make the exact same sweater as my brother's.

Then life intervened again. My mother died. My brother, who had struggled with alcohol for a long time, gave into grief in the most destructive ways. He survived, but our relationship has not. He no longer speaks to any of us, least of all to me.

When I picked up knitting again, I knew I wanted to do something with this yarn. It reminds me of when I first learned to knit. It is simple and warm and its smell takes me back to long quiet evenings in Maine -- when I knitted while my son slept.

I didn't have the heart to make the Aran, though -- and so I chose something else. I wanted to keep the Irish theme, and I wanted something warm enough for chilly Michigan or perhaps for visits to Maine. I also wanted something that would wrap around me like the hugs I miss from the people I have lost.

This will have to do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post - and a lovely piece. Hope you are still wearing this happily. (Happened upon this via knitty.)

Take care