One of my colleagues had given me a book her daughter recommended, Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood.
You may recognize Hood as the author of several knitting novels; those novels were shaped by her life. This memoir shared her experience of losing her five-year-old daughter suddenly. With prior losses, like the death of her father, writing had helped her grieve. But she found that she couldn't think, couldn't make sense of letters and words, after Grace died. A friend recommended she learn to do something else with her hands, knowing in time writing and reading would return to her. So Hood learned to knit and the act of working each stitch individually, concentrating just enough on the process, allowed her to retreat when life became too overwhelming.
Reading the dust jacket had me somewhat skeptical. I was worried it would boil down to, "Knitting saved my life." And as much as I enjoy knitting, I knew that theme would leave me empty. I enjoy having it around me and in my hands, but fiber is not redemptive. The book, however, gave the proper amount of credit to knitting. Her memoir was a good outlet for me. Reading about her daughter's sudden death let me relive our own loss. So each day I read a little and cried when I needed.
Regarding knitting, I will say that there are times when I'm tired of feeling emotions, so I pick up some project to allow myself to be mindless and only focus on the pattern. Hood talks of retreating to her needles and being so fearful of being without a project that she stocked up on yarn (to obsessive levels) so as not to be put in such a position. It's not the only time I knit, since I did find enjoyment in it before, but I do like the escape. It gives my fidgeting hands something to do and can calm my racing brain.
I know I'll still share here about how we are coping, but I'll also try to touch on lighter things as I feel them. However, I know the majority of people consistently reading are family and friends, and will thus grant me the grace to dwell on it when I need to.
Keeping up with the knitting vein, I'll quickly share some projects I've accomplished in the last couple months.
First, Heather received a pair of socks for her birthday, a small gratitude for her presence by my side during everything. Everyone has been gracious and sympathetic, but it meant a lot to have had my older sister with me. And were it not for her, we would have far fewer photos of Katherine. When the doctor called me down, Heather thought enough to grab my camera and document our precious minutes with her.
I also made a winter hat to match a scarf completed early this summer:
I had decided that 2008 was going to be the "Year of the Sweater," and I faithfully began in February. My enthusiasm waned with the spring temperatures and my pregnancy. After all, would the cardigan even fit me come fall and winter as temperatures dropped? So it began hibernating until a friend reminded me, as I spoke of 2009 being the "Year of Lace" and also the "Year of a Felted Project," that I still hadn't met 2008's aim. So out it came, and a couple weeks later, it was finished.
Here's a photo of it completely buttoned:
And one with it partially buttoned:
It's made from Paton's Classic Merino Wool, so I can vouch for the toastiness of it, a welcome trait this week. And blocking may be my new (inanimate) best friend. I love how it transformed the sweater, and I'm happily thinking of tackling other sweaters. In my ideal world, sometime this winter I would be snowed in for a week or two with plenty of coffee, food, and yarn.
I joined in a knit-along with some local friends to make Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket, a rite of passage that every knitter should experience. It is knit in one piece and looks like a sloppy blanket until you fold it just so and sew the two final seams. I have yet to attach buttons, but I have a couple of ideas for the delightful insect or flower buttons that could finish it off.
Perhaps it's strange, given my recent experiences, to see me knitting baby clothes or understand how I can distance myself from thinking of babies as I make such a project. It helps that this one was made without any expectations. The white sweater I was working on during my pregnancy has been since put aside. I will return to it, but right now, the memories are too raw.
I associate certain memories and sounds with familiar actions. For instance, when I work outside, I remember what I was last listening to on my iPod when I previously raked the lawn or weeded the garden, or as I drive a familiar stretch of road I will recall a conversation or an interesting NPR story that occurred in that same area. Many hours of anticipation went into that little cabled duffle coat, so I just need some space before I return, knowing they will all flood back. I'm just not ready right now.