Friday, June 27, 2008

A Tale of Two Sweaters

Way back in November, which seems like a distant memory now, lots of stuff was different than now. My energies were channeled in different directions. In some ways, I was split in half and making decisions that could have lifelong impact. During this time, the heart was flowing with good intentions despite being at a crossroads. I needed a way to channel the energy, and figured the best way would be to embark on a large sweater project. It turned out to be an emotionally challenging project. For so many reasons.

I took measurements one Saturday morning, boot shopping, with a detour into darkened pathways behind the scenes, in a fairy tale land of make believe, the North Pole. I brought the yarn to be considered, touched, evaluated, one of 17 skeins of gorgeous brown tweed, Queensland Kathmandu Aran. The goal was a Cobblestone Pullover, a design approved and then anticipated. I spent hours recalculating the stitch counts to align with the measurements, I was concerned about a proper fit. I also devoted hours to swatching, washing and blocking to get the right gauge.

And then I commenced knitting. After work, late into the evenings. I was giddy with delight. As the sweater grew on my lap, round after round, I was filled with affection. This yarn! This pattern! This gift! I felt the love flowing from my heart, down my arms, into my hands and then into the growing sweater itself. Each round was an expression of my intent. You might even call it Tweed Love. An overwhelming urge to make something to be worn as a remembrance, a reminder of a belief in connections lost and rekindled. Like a good hug, wrapped in warmth.

This is how it looked when I started.

Halfway through the body of this sweater, things changed. I was put on notice - new limitations - a new rulebook issued. Lines and boundaries drawn in the sand. I couldn't look at this sweater for weeks without feeling it was just too much. And with family coming from out of town over the Holidays, I had deadlines. This sweater went on the back burner.

When I finally returned to this project after January, it seemed too big! We needed a proper fitting and despite assurances, I had doubts. Would it ever really fit? Does it meet shared expectations? Would it be put on hold forever? Will I still want to work it with the passage of time? I needed distance to get some perspective.

It occurred to me what I really needed to do was take care of myself. I needed my own Cobblestone. And lucky for me I had the perfect yarn, procured during a glorious trip to Rhinebeck / Saugerties in October. Sweet memories, that weekend. And the yarn was love at first sight. Alpaca Merino blend, two ply twist, rustic and slightly hairy, in a wonderful dusty blue. I dove right in. Knitted furiously and in two weeks I had a perfect sweater. It fit like a dream. I couldn't be happier.

Meanwhile the brown Cobblestone languished. I picked it up and worked it slowly over time, but my mojo for it was gone. I kept thinking I needed to put closure to it. Instead, once I finally cast off the neck, and knowing it needed one more fitting before final finishing, I decided to put it into a bag and store it away.

I realized I could make all the effort in the world to finish it, but it doesn't mean it will be worn. It wouldn't be owned. It would be evaded. Playing it safe, it would likely end up on a shelf (it's getting crowded on that shelf!) and this sweater really deserves to be worn with pride. It does not deserve to be put on a shelf to serve as a reminder of things not fulfilled.

Taking ownership requires an act of courage. Playing it safe may seem easier, protective, but it lacks reward, extinguishes flames. If someday there is bravery, forthright and true, this sweater will take its rightful place. Till then, I've got other things to do.

1 comment:

Eliza said...

I have a sweater that went through a similar life (or lack of birth). It is nearly done, but I can't make myself finish it. I hope that in a few months, when it cools off, I can pick it up and start fresh. I bet you can too!