During the last stages of finishing my Evenstar shawl, I’ve found myself having to answer this question: How do you finish knitting something for someone who has died?
When I signed up for the Evenstar Knitalong by Sunflower Designs, I gave the project very little forethought. Lord of the Rings? Lace? Circular shawl? I’m in. When I found the eminently affordable Jojoland Harmony to knit it in, the deal was sealed. I named it Undómiel and cast on.
It was a mystery knit-along, so I didn’t know what the final product would look like; I didn’t even know the designer by reputation to know if I’d invested a bit of money and a LOT of time in an heirloom masterpiece or some forgettable modernist crap. As I’ve said before, I am more of a project knitter than a process knitter, and this much blind faith in a project was rather unprecedented.
It didn’t even occur to me to ask myself who the shawl would be for until I was well into it. Once I did think about it, I had this odd feeling that… it wasn’t for me. So as I continued, I started to look for a potential recipient. Someone who might enjoy something this unusual. Someone who would appreciate it for even a fraction of the effort that went into it. Someone who would have occasion to use it. A few possibilities came up, but nothing solidified.
The process of making this shawl was delightful. I tried my best to keep up with the clues, but whether I succeeded or not, I didn’t look at anyone else’s work before I was done my clue. The surprise of seeing each shape form was a new experience; thrilling, even, in a very slow sort of way. And more things were born in the process than just a shawl – The beginnings of the project were the beginnings of a friendship, when Jonica and I discovered we were on this journey together.
Then, in May, everything changed. A new person came into my life very unexpectedly, and suddenly I knew. The shawl would be for her. Maybe she would love it, maybe she’d never use it after the day she received it, but it didn’t matter to me. She was worth it, and it was hers.
Then a month after she came into my life, about halfway around the border of her shawl… she passed away. And there I was, with a nearly finished shawl, knowing in my heart of hearts who it was for, and knowing she would never see it.
So I slogged on, a less exultant about the passing beaded repeats. Knitting through a broken heart, knitting through the grief, wondering how to heal from such a quick and unexpected joy and loss, and not knowing what I would do with this shawl, probably the most beautiful thing I’d ever made.
Now that it’s finished, it’s everything I hoped it would be, and I am proud of it. But my heart is too much in it to give it away to anyone else now. So I will wear it a few times, then wrap it in acid-free tissue paper, put it in the bottom of my cedar chest, and save it to wrap about my firstborn baby girl. It’ll be a gift… from her mom, and from her big sister.