Thursday, May 26, 2011

New York, New York ...

After the last few weeks, I really needed a break.
A change of scenery ....

And familiar faces ...I spent a few days in New York, visiting my sister and my son -- both of whom work and live there.

My travelling companion was, with a nod to Stephanie, the sock. The sock is a gift in progress for a friend who had foot surgery. What better celebration of recovery than handknit socks, right?

The sock enjoyed the sleeping compartment on the train ...
And brunch at The Farm on Adderley. The chocolate brioche with butter and sea salt was amazing and the Bloody Marys were the best I've ever had.

I dragged the sock to the Poetry House in Battery Park. For a word nerd, it is like a trip to Paradise. Books, journals, tapes, CDs -- all poetry, all the time.

The sock lit a candle at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

But wisely stayed far from the flame.

It walked across the Brooklyn Bridge -- with a little help.

And it found its dream bicycle parked under the bridge.

The sock visited yarny kin at La Casita and Knitty City. There was only one purchase, some gorgeous lace-weight in shades of red. Destined for a shawl, just have no idea which one.

And while the sock rested in its knitting bag, and I walked around a chilly New York in the sweater I'd made my brother 17 years ago, Cecelia and I remembered him with tears and with laughter. We talked about how family bonds are reconfigured around a gaping hole. We celebrated having each other and having time together.

We reminded ourselves that love really can see us through.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Knitting Memories

Thank you to those who wrote or posted comments to express sympathy on the death of my brother. It is much appreciated.

This has been a week of memories, some of them related to knitting.

At my brother's funeral, his partner gave me a bag that contained almost everything my brother owned -- a stuffed toy soldier my grandmother made him when he was 2, an afghan my mother had crocheted, and this --

an Aran cardigan I knitted 17 years ago.

He loved it, wore it often at his office and took really good care of it. It was in close-to-perfect shape -- after a quick bath in Eucalan, I've worn it twice.

It moved me to realize that a man who'd lost almost everything, who'd been through bankruptcy twice, who was living a life tormented by addiction and had few possessions kept these three handmade things. It speaks to me of the power of emotion and memory that can attach to the things we create.

When I look at this sweater, I remember what was going on in my life when I knitted it -- at that time, knitting was my refuge. I would stay up half the night knitting -- everything from a stuffed jellyfish for my daughter's kindergarten "under the sea" project to a knitted snapping turtle for my son's nature studies homework. Anything to keep my hands busy and my mind off the husband passed out in the next room, and the rum bottles hidden around the house.

It sounds as if this sweater should call up a host of bad memories, but it doesn't. When I see it, or wear it, what I remember most is the pleasure the knitting gave me more than the pain I was trying to escape.

Some knitting memories are simply happy -- no angst, no hidden sorrow. A couple of weeks ago, my nephew sent me a text message with this photo -- he was cleaning out his baby things. Or as he calls it, his "box of repressed memories." This is the very first sweater I ever knitted. It was from Vogue Knitting's premiere issue and I thought it was adorable. I still do.

But I'm glad the photo is taken from far enough away that I can't see the finishing. I'd probably want to take it apart and reseam everything.

As he prepares for his wedding, it makes me smile to think a child of his may wear this some day.

Also as promised, here is Mr. Greenjeans, which went from this --

to this --

This is one of those very few patterns that I know I'll be knitting again. Next time in wool, with long sleeves instead of bracelet length -- and a full complement of buttons instead of a single.

I wonder if I'll always look at this sweater and remember that I was finishing it on the day I got the phone call my brother had taken his own life. I hope that instead I remember better times -- when we were happy and life was filled with promise.