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.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

OMG that was beautiful....What great memories you have..I am sorry to hear of the passing of your brother...And I am sure he takes with him the memories of the sweater.....May God Bless you....Thanks for sharing that with us!!!