For nearly a decade, I have worked wool. I am a knitter. I use needles, wool and my own two hands to create. I find peace in knitting. It is a practice, a meditation. Perhaps the sincerest way that I can gift my love is by knitting for another person. You see, a single knitted piece contains anywhere from hundreds to thousands of individual stitches. Each stitch formed, one by one, with my own hands. When a piece that I am working on is intended for another person, it is impossible to work so many stitches without thinking of that person regularly. With this in mind, a hand knitted piece, say a blanket, can be considered to contain at least a thousand individual thoughts. A thousand wishes. A thousand pieces of my heart.
I knitted such a blanket, for Clara. I chose the yarn because it reminded me of a nebula, all blacks, blues, purples and greens, and we had decided to do a space theme for her nursery. I had begun to affectionately refer to her as “Little Moon”.
I spent weeks agonizing over the pattern choice. Originally I had wanted to do something very dainty – a white lace perhaps. Something regal. However, my logical mind won out and I decided that, with a January birthday, a sensible, worsted weight, wide ribbed blanket would be more suitable. It would keep her warm. It would be… functional.
It seems ironic now that I would spend so much time choosing to knit a functional blanket that would, in the end, serve no function at all.
The blanket was not the only thing that I knitted for Clara. I also knitted a grey bonnet, and a single sock. I never made it to the sock’s mate, before receiving our diagnosis. These pieces of wool, worked into functional items, are pieces of my heart set aside for another. It hurts to put them away, even though that seems the right thing to do. About a week after Clara was gone, I bought a nice little box, covered in burlap fabric. In this box I placed her ultrasound pictures, the bonnet, the sock and the blanket. I also wrote a letter to her, and included it in the box. I thought that putting the items away might soothe the ache, as if giving them a home inside the box would feel the same as gifting them to the individual for whom they were intended.
It does not feel the same.
I believe, that when a knitted item is gifted, an exchange is made. I gift a thousand pieces of my heart, and the joy it brings to the recipient, the comfort it gives them, the way it fills their heart to know that they have been thought of, in turn, fills the void. The bonnet, the blanket and the single sock contain fragments of my heart that I cannot retrieve, and as such, they leave a hole that cannot be filled.
Unfortunately, there is no happy lesson here. Not yet, at least.
I suppose, if anything, I am grateful for the ability to gift a part of myself, and for the knowledge that these will not be the last gifts that I knit for others. I will continue to knit and give bits of my heart to those that I love. Continue this exchange of love. I will do so, however, with a hole in my heart. An emptiness in the shape of one thousand stitches. A blanket, a bonnet, and a single sock.