Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Stitch in Time

"Knitting is very conducive to thought. It is nice to knit awhile, put down the needles,     write awhile, then take up the sock again."   Dorothy Day

There are 96 stitches on 4 needles, size 3. The entire project will only be 8 inches long. This is something I generally can knock off in a couple of evenings, especially if we have a good movie to watch. Not this time. I've been at it for nearly a week and have just over 3 inches done. I've spent most of my time slowly taking out mistakes.

Last month, I lost a friend. Kathy was not someone I hung around with all the time, but she was a friend, a colleague, a mentor, a confidante. She was also a knitter. A number of her beautiful projects were on display at her memorial celebration. They reminded me of her - large, soft, warm, classy, beautiful.

I decided I was going to try lace knitting this time. I've done it before and I enjoy it, but it's not something I can work on without concentrating on every stitch. Even so, I often get to the end of the needle and have too many or too few stitches to complete the pattern. Then I have to go back, slowly, stitch by stitch, until I find out where I made my mistake.

As I've worked on this project, I've thought of Kathy a lot. One day, soon after we celebrated her life, I went back and read some of the emails and messages we wrote to each other. I was saddened when I realized one of the last things she had written to me was a request that we get together for lunch. It was a trying time for me - in some ways it still is - as I was navigating the practical and emotional issues of moving my parents to assisted living. I told her I'd love to have lunch with her, but I couldn't right then. I was swamped.

No, I don't feel guilty, just a little sad. I was swamped and there wasn't much I could do about it. Kathy understood complicated family life and medical issues. She always understood. This is what made her the incredible teacher, principal, advocate, and friend she was to so many people.

No, I didn't feel guilty, but it was one more reminder to take care of the people I love and to keep mending my mistakes.

My knitting pattern is a little like my life right now: too complicated, demands attention, and easy to make mistakes. It's taking a lot of patience to get through each round, knit a little, count, take out stitches, re do them, go on. It's taking a lot of patience to get through each week, too, and I often spend a great deal of time going back and fixing mistakes, and then taking a breath and going back to one more doctor's appointment, one more afternoon with young grandchildren, one more day of figuring out insurance companies, school schedules, and cleaning house.

I'll take up the knitting needles again, too. With each round completed, the pattern can be seen more clearly. As I begin to understand the pattern, the mistakes are easier to fix. The patterns in my life are a bit more complex than this lace knitting - or are they? As I begin to understand my life patterns, I alternately groan and laugh at how often I make things more difficult than they need be.

Oh well. For now, I'm ready to take a deep breath, go to bed, and rest up. Tomorrow I'll start another round.