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Stash Stories

September 4, 2007

This past spring my S&B group lost a good friend, and our most talented knitter. I’ve written about Deb a few times on here before–she was one of our founders and a center of our group, she was wonderfully welcoming to my husband and I as we were first struggling to find our place in this new city, she had survived breast cancer years ago and thought that fight was over, only to be diagnosed with leukemia just over a year ago. She left behind a thriving group of knitters, two wonderful daughters I can now call friends (and a son that I don’t know so well, but I’m sure he’s wonderful too), and a yarn stash.

We knitters joke about our stashes–I’ve heard reference to “more yarn that I could knit in a lifetime” often online. And although they sometimes feel like a shameful proof of consumerism or useless hoarding, we also know that our stashes are well-loved collections. Each yarn has a story, a plan, an idea, sometimes just a color or a texture that we wanted to hold on to. Unfinished projects are proof of where we’ve been, and a testament to the power of the next idea that pulled us away from the finishing.

Last night we divided up Deb’s stash. It was an emotional night–joy in her work and her collection, sadness for her absence. A sweater started for her daughter when she was little, socks waiting for mates, a beautifully beaded sweater, nearly finished, but with the late discovery of a fatal gauge flaw that would make it necessary to reknit the entire back.

I ended up with yarn for two projects that are going to be challenges. The first is the shawl pictured above. Do you recognize it? I have the yarn, I have the half finished shawl, but I don’t have the pattern. Any ideas out there? Even when I find the pattern this baby’s going to be a challenge. There are already almost 1000 stitches round the needles! I’m not sure I would take on lace this large on my own–but with Deb’s work already completed, and with the encouraging reminders of her spirit I think I might be up to it.

The second project will come from these balls of Shetland wool, all ready for some stranded knitting. Deb was going to teach me to do colorwork before she got sick, and sadly it’s something I didn’t manage to learn from her in time. Luckily there are others in the group who can help me along–but it seems fitting to work up to using some of her yarn for a stranded project. I have another project, in worsted weight wool, up first so I can learn the technique. But once I’m comfortable I’m looking forward to finding/hacking/creating a pattern to use up these colors.

Thanks, Deb, for your collection, for leaving so many projects unfinished. There was a lot you didn’t have time to complete here, you were taken much too soon. You are irreplaceable, yes, but you left behind all the building blocks to make sure your work–in crafts, in community, in church, in theater will continue. Your impact on so many lives won’t be stopped by something so small as death–you continue to inspire us to take on new challenges, to expect the best, to reach out and connect with one another. Thank you for all these gifts–may we all be so lucky as to leave such a collection as witness to our lives.

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4 Comments
  1. September 4, 2007 12:33 pm

    What a beautiful, moving testimonial to the power of a woman who was loved by so many. To the inspiration she left behind. And to the yarn that carries her memory as it is lovingly worked by those of you who knew and loved her.

    I’ve wept all over my keyboard.

  2. Edith permalink
    September 5, 2007 10:43 am

    Katie, I keep wondering if this is the shawl? E.

    http://knitpicks.com/Feather+%26+Fan+Shawl_PD30581223.html

  3. September 8, 2007 6:44 pm

    What a lovely way to remember such a special woman in your life!

  4. September 9, 2007 2:30 pm

    lovely tribute to your friend. somehow i have a feeling you’ll feel her guidance as you knit up the yarn she left behind for all of you to remember her by.

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