Looking In The Rearview

This has been an intensely contemplative week for me. For everyone else, St. Patrick’s Day is a fun, green, drinking holiday. For me, it is an anniversary of the day my Nana left this world. I wrote about Nana last year, and about how lucky I was to have her in my life. All still very true. This year was a little different in that it marked 10 years since her passing.

A decade. It is the date that I really changed from the kid I was growing up into the woman I was working to become. The part of me that was so strongly tied with her went with her when she passed on; the part of her that was tied to me continued on in a different sort of way. I emerged from the grief of her loss a new creature altogether.

This has tied heavily into the coming 5th anniversary of the loss of my friend, Andie. I think I mistakenly wrote last year that it was the 5th anniversary, but sometimes my math not so gude. She died on April 28, 2005, after suffering an Addisonian Crisis. Much like my Nana’s passing, I emerged from Andie’s death a totally new creature.

The hurt of Andie’s death overshadowed everything in my life, up to and very much including my wedding, eight weeks later. It still hurts, even now, five years after the fact.

Reflecting on the past five and ten years has been amplified by the fact that I have reconnected with one person from my “before” life. When I graduated high school in 2000, only a few short months after my Nana died, I cut off pretty much every one and every thing from that part of my life, including my best friend/boyfriend/fiancé. I met my future husband, joined the SCA, and left everything that I knew before that in the darkened and dusty halls of my memory. Well, after coming across that same boy, now a grown man across the internet, I sent him an e-mail on his birthday wishing him well.

That e-mail opened a dialogue that I never expected. Nothing untowards or inappropriate, of course, but comforting in the way that people who were once best friends can pick up and talk even ten years later like no time has passed. He is very happily married with a daughter near Grace’s age, and at least one more on the way now. He is also very unhappily underemployed, working two jobs, with no insurance, tremendous medical debt looming over him from the eldest’s birth, and having to fall back on the kindness of family to get by. There, but by the grace of God…as the saying goes.

I suspect much of this year, much of 2010, will be spent looking over my shoulder, dusting off memories, reexamining my own history, and considering how those antiques will come into play in my own future.

The future. Last year, I advertised knitting lessons on Craigslist. I received one contact, and her request was not lessons, but she wanted to contract with me to complete an afghan begun by her Grandmother many years ago, who passed away before the blanket was complete. I agreed to look at it, and finally, this week, took up the challenge. When I opened the package, I was stunned to find it is a very old project indeed. Probably mid-80s. The pattern is simply and non-descriptively titled Bernat 2135-160. There is a link to the project on Ravelry, and the picture of the one completed project looks exactly like what I am working on; plain white, acrylic yarn, held double, knit on US13 needles, but I can find it nowhere else on the web.

There is something intensely intimate about knitting someone else’s project. I am holding needles held by a woman I have never seen. I am knitting a pattern I would never have attempted myself because I would never have seen it on my own. I was worried my personal knitting gauge might be dramatically different from the original knitter, but it is not noticeably different. When she chose that pattern, she probably found it pretty, probably relaxing, and she probably had a specific person in mind, even if it was for herself. I wondered as I picked it up how long before she passed she had last worked on it. There were two errors in the last row that I easily repaired. Was she struggling near the end? Or maybe she put it down because, like so many of my own projects, she got half way through and decided she couldn’t stand to look at it anymore and the errors were out of contempt, not loss of skill? Or maybe she was like so many other knitters I know, myself included, that simply had too many projects going on at any one time and it just got forgotten; years later to be picked up by a loving granddaughter, who desired to see something beautiful started by her beloved grandmother completed?

Who can say? I will never have the courage to ask the woman.

But as I work on the afghan, it draws my mind into the future. What will I leave behind? How many unfinished projects will I leave? Will they be tossed out or sent to the Thrift store? Will someone, whether it is Grace or her own child, want to see Grannie’s projects finished? Will my knitting be a loved legacy or a humorous story to tell distant relatives about? “Man, you should have seen Mad Ol’ Grannie’s yarn stash! You would have thought she was saving for a Yarn Apocalypse! And, ugh, the colors! That is straight out of the twenty-tens!”

I do not know, and I also take comfort in that it is not for me to know that answer.

I have spent the last ten years trying to forget where I have been, and suddenly I realize that I have no idea where I am going, either. It makes for a strangely hazy existence, pretending I didn’t exist before the Autumn of 2000. I will never know where I am going, but I am trying now to at least acknowledge where I have been and respect that history, as ancient as it seems these days.

As I navel-gaze, picking at all the lint, I knit. I finished the first of the Beer Socks over the weekend. I am not pleased as I knew I would not be. Byram is fairly happy, but like me, not overall blown away by them. I liked learning the Right Twist and Left Twist stitches for the “foam,” but I found the amber color to be a turn off after a while and just finished the sock with a distinct sense of “that was a total bummer.” I cast on the second sock yesterday to take a break from the epic, mid-calf high so far, almost knee-socks I am knitting from the Trekking yarn. I love that sock as much as I am disappointed by the beer sock. I cannot stop knitting it. I keep thinking I need to go ahead and bind off and start the second sock, but the colors are so neat and the look of the sock is so neat as it creeps up my calf, that I just can’t stop my 2×2 ribbing. Also neat is the look of the ribs at the back where I have increased on the fly. I promise pictures soon. The camera is out of batteries, but I expect I will finish the sock this weekend and model it not long there after.

This was a very intimate post; not my normal thing at all, but some times, you just have to put it all out there, I suppose.

Happy knitting and I hope the weather is beautiful wherever you are. It is far too pretty to be stuck inside as I am today.


3 responses to this post.

  1. What a neat thing, finishing the afghan. I hope it inspires further healing for you.


  2. Posted by linda schwarzberg on June 19, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    I found your blog when I entered afghan style 2135-160 on Google. Do you have a pattern/photo for this afghan? I would like to make it.

    Thank you,


    • Posted by laruse on August 27, 2010 at 3:55 PM

      Email me at melisentlaruse at yahoo daught calm and we can talk. I might be able to help you.

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