Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Shawl Thoughts

This summer started, and is coming to an end, with shawls.

The summer started happily. Dad had a new pacemaker and was doing well, I had a conference and thus a rare chance to travel, and I was working on a bold, red shawl of my own design in lace.

Sumer is closing sadly. Dad is gone, and I am working on a simple triangular shawl in garter stitch. It is a shawl I cast on only a few days before he died. Although the colorful yarn clashes with my mood, the rythmn of plain knitting soothes the soul and allows for an empty mind.

The act of knitting invokes something inside me that I call "kinetic memory," as though knitting is a way of physically recording my life events with sticks and string. Grief, happiness, anxiety, love and exuberation each have their own secret way of encoding themselves into yarn and stitch patterns.

I look at certain item and not only do I recall exactly what was happening in my life when I was working on it, but my feelings from that point in time are summoned as well: that is the bag I was working on when Simon died. Those are the socks I knitted when Dave was in the hospital. That is the afghan that got me through the days after 9-11. This is the hat I made on our vacation to Portland.

And this is the shawl I had just started when Dad died. This is the shawl that is helping to make things bearable right now.

This particular shawl is going to be hard to have around. I am sure I will store it away when it is done. And maybe one day it will not bring me down every time I look at it. Maybe, one day, it will stop reminding me of the deep sadness of this August and, instead, remind me of the solace one can find in yarn and needles. Maybe, one day, the colorful ribbon yarn will feel cheerful again.

So before I go to bed tonight, I will knit for a little while on this simple project, let the softness of the yarn comfort me, and wonder when I will be have the heart to wear the resulting shawl.

When this is done, I need to work on something besides shawls for awhile, I think.


Inmates in the Asylum since July 27, 2006: