Knitting as Art, Knitting as Love
I have the tendency to wax poetic, maybe even to excess, when describing just how much knitting and all fiber arts have been soothing, comforting, unifying, and so many other things in life. It's always been this way, and yet now that I get to live my life as a yarn peddler (I just picture myself in an 1800's dress with a dirt-streaked face pushing a wheelbarrow full of yarn down a cobblestone street hollering about the values of my wares) I don't want to seem as if I'm putting on airs or exaggerating to make a sale.
However, many others share this same experience: the calming click of our needles in the evening after a long day, the ability to control and create a project when life seems out of control, the instant solidarity of finding a stranger who crafts, or the lifelong bond of a family member who shares your hobby...
And lately I've gotten a few of those stories that I felt needed to be shared in depth, in these ladies' own words. As I encounter them, I'll add more here if they are comfortable sharing! And if you have your own story to share please feel free!
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First I'd like to share Haneen's words. She wrote me recently because her package arrived ripped open with no yarn...which is a sad beginning to this story! But she was graceful enough to still share with me what she had been using the yarn for, and one of her sweaters is pictured above.
I've wanted write you and tell you just how much this yarn of yours has meant to me this last month; however, as my most recent shipment (containing yarn to knit a sweater for my dear friend Lizzy who I believe has had the pleasure of a brief correspondence with you) was supposed to arrive this last Monday but never did, I have finally sat down to reach out.
And now for the matter far closer to my heart:
Nearly two months ago I sat on the corner of my mother's bed, chatting about sweaters and life and yarn. Since she taught me to knit when I was five years old, fiber, it seems, always held us closest together. We were supposed to be looking at used cars on my laptop so I could replace my dear old Civic that broke down on the long drive to visit my parents; but I think we had both had quite enough of used car listings on that late Saturday morning and, as we are wont to do in times of stress, the conversation soon turned to more pleasant things of knitting and of yarn. She reminded me again that I still had not chosen what yarn I had decided she could buy me in honor of my twentieth birthday a few months back, and so we determined to choose that at least. And I'm so glad we did, for we stumbled upon this delightful selection of wool: quality yet affordable; hearty, yet soft.
But I did not know that those twelve skeins of Tuffy would be the last yarn my mother ever bought me. I did not know that would be the last time I ever saw her.
A few more anxious weeks went by—I returned to Georgia and promptly wrecked my new ‘08 Accord; my roommate's father had a stroke; and my own mother went to the hospital. In the scurry of everything collapsing I was left alone to knit multiple fresh waves of angst and stress out of me by making the sturdiest pairs of socks.
And then, just when we thought there might still be some shred of hope, my mother was transferred to hospice. On the very same day, I tested positive for Covid, meaning my sister and I were unable to visit until our quarantine was through. But something else happened on that day, too: something beautiful, even. I opened the door and another parcel from Maritime Family Fiber lay on my porch.
I've used the phrase "stress knitting" before to describe my exercise with this craft. I've had people tell me it makes them stressed to watch me knit, and it makes me stressed to watch myself knit, too. But oh, knitting ribbed fair isle on the trim of a baby sweater while my mother was dying seven hours away and I was ill with the plague and did not know if I would even make it home in time to see her—I do not think I can put into words what a blessing that project was. I felt such an inexplicable peace throughout it all, and I doubt that would have been the case without such a complicated project and such lovely yarn to hide behind. I shall include a photo of the finished baby sweater so you may see it.
After two of the longest weeks, I was finally recovered enough and the required time had elapsed since the dreaded positive test for the hospice facility to consider letting me in. The two afternoons I spent in Room 18 were stiff and still, yet my new project's Sheep's Grey and Evergreen colorwork kept me calm. And on the evening of October 3rd, the woman who birthed and loved and raised me into the woman and knitter I am slipped through the door of this life and went forever into the arms of Jesus.
Throughout my mother's long illness with breast cancer, there have been long stretches of time in which the thought of picking up my needles was simply too much. But through the gift of Maritime Family Fiber, whatever my life is supposed to look like now, I know that the Lord wants knitting to be a part of it. It's been far too deep a comfort and a blessing to let go of now.
And because of that, I will be forever thankful.
"But grief is not a force and has no power to hold. You only bear it. Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery." ~ from the novel Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry"
I have yet to read this again and not cry...hopefully it touched your heart too...thank you Haneen for being willing to share!
Wow, what a wonderful story, thank you for sharing. It brought me to tears also. While my mother-in-law was in the hospital for three months, I became known as the sock lady, I just knit socks, for babies, nurses, family and then for charity. It kept me from looking at the monitors, helped me tune out the beeps and alarms, and soothed my anxious soul. Thank God for our knitting talents, and God bless the child lucky enough to receive that beautiful sweater!
Oh, Haneen! I grieve with you, and I rejoice with you in the healing power of wool and yarn and knitting. You are a beautiful person. I hope things your run of difficulties will be over for a long, long time. I’m here in Vermont knitting with you! (And this sweater is fabuluos!) Becky
What a lovely yet bittersweet letter to receive. I too use knitting as a sort of soothing for my heart aches. My dear mother taught me the art of knitting and after her strokes, I had to reteach her the art of knitting that the strokes interrupted. She’s gone now, but is never far from my minds eye while I sit and knit.💗
Haneen, you have truly blessed me with your message of heartbreak, mended and carried by the hope of Jesus bringing us together into His embrace. You are close in age to my own children, and I just had a prayer answered, literally 40 minutes ago, to have Him show me a glimmer of hope amongst the mess of our world. And then I read your blog.
May He bless you and keep you, and shine His countenance upon you!
Had great difficulty reading through my tears. Thank you.