Friday, September 7, 2018

Day 74

In the summer of 2008, I was working a VERY part-time job, so I decided to use some of my free time to teach myself to knit. Armed with a pair of knitting needles and a skein of yarn, I managed to grasp the most basic knitting techniques from watching YouTube videos. I knitted one scarf for my sister before I quit knitting. 
As I was packing to move to Louisiana in 2010, I ran across two skeins of yarn I purchased in 2008 and started a second scarf. I was talking to a boy at that time, and when I told him I was knitting a scarf, he told me his mom was also a knitter. I wouldn’t have called myself a knitter at that point, but he told his mom I knew how to knit, and she bought me a nicer skein of yarn from the knit shop in Shreveport than I’d ever bought myself from Michaels or Walmart. Since I couldn’t let the lovely yarn go to waste, I knitted a scarf with it, and then I was hooked on knitting. His mother and I built a friendship largely on our mutual love of knitting and creating fun new projects with all kinds of yarns. 

Fast forward a few years, and I met a new boy with a mom who knitted. The boy was Richard, and his mom was Kathy. Kathy was a little intimidating because she was so skilled in so many ways; she was great at knitting, sewing, cooking, gardening, being a sorority woman, and more stuff I didn’t even know yet. Richard had told her that the girl he was seeing was also a knitter, so Kathy and I bonded over that when we eventually met. We shared patterns, and she passed down yarn to me from time to time. (I rarely had anything worthy of passing up to her.) In 2014, we decided to learn to knit socks together, and we succeeded! She succeeded at everything, though. I’ve been inconsistent with my knitting, and I have a collection of unfinished items, but Kathy was pretty good about finishing what she started before starting something new. 

Sometime recently—we are a little unclear on exactly when—Kathy started knitting a sweater. She’d made sweaters before, so this wasn’t anything out of her ordinary repertoire. I would run far away from any project that required me to cast on 300 stitches, but Kathy was up for the challenge of little stitches on small needles. All through the last few months, she worked on the sweater. I watched her work on it sometimes when we would come to visit after she had chemo, and I imagine she knitted sometimes in the car on the way to and from Houston for visits to MD Anderson. If I did a little math, I could calculate how many stitches are in the sweater, but I know for sure that there are thousands. Thousands of times that she made little loops and pulled them through each other until they made a sweater. 

As I was driving from Baton Rouge to Ruston last Wednesday, knowing that Kathy has passed before I saw her one last time, I thought about hours spent with Kathy, sitting around in her living room knitting, talking, and drinking wine. I always felt so lucky to spend that quality time with her because I know that not everyone has a good relationship with their in-laws, but I treasure those days even more now that I have lived the last of them. The sweater crossed my mind as I drove, and I wondered if she’d finished it. I was pretty sure she hadn’t, but I didn’t know how to ask about it, especially while there was so much to think about. That night at the dinner table, though, Russ asked me if I would finish the sweater. 
“I was hoping you’d ask that,” I said with a smile. That night, I grabbed the basket with the sweater and pattern and tried to figure out how much was left to do. (Knowing how to read a knitting pattern and compare it to the actual knitted work is a skill that takes some time to develop.) She had made careful notes and tally marks for each repeat, but she was well into the pattern by the time I picked it up; I figured out that all that remained to do was knit the neckline (which was still 120 stitches), sew the armpits where the sleeves were attached, and weave in the pesky ends. 
I worked on the sweater off and on, finishing the knitting on Saturday night after the funeral, doing a pretty awful job with the Kitchener stitch (I should really master that sooner rather than later), and weaving in the ends before I left on Monday. Knitting can be such a peaceful hobby, and the feeling of finishing a project is always gratifying. Now that this garment is done, hopefully Kathy can start her next project in Heaven. 

Something that made today great: road tripping with my favorite man!

Time I woke up: 7:30 am. Not too bad. 

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