Five years ago, I found the pattern for this sweater in a magazine. It was a new construction, essentially knit all in one piece–I had never done anything like it. It is slightly felted and fuzzy. It looked so incredibly cozy.
It was a man’s size.
I wanted to knit it. I put it in the lineup. I would make it for my husband.
Before I got to it, Juan told me he was leaving me.
The thought of knitting a man’s sweater was more than I could bear. I put the pattern aside. I knit socks and slippers and things that would ground me. I knit long scarves to wrap around me and keep out the cold. I knit myself mittens so that someone, even if that someone was made of wool, would hold my hand.
After awhile, when the loss of Juan stopped stinging–that sweater pattern kept calling to me. I thought about it at the strangest times. I would sigh and say…'”Oh its too bad I have no one to knit that sweater for… Maybe one day.”
This spring, I was going through my yarn and I found 3 large hanks of Irish wool, the most beautiful color green. The hue was deep and complex. I had bought the yarn in a special place in the west of Ireland, at a place I felt almost magical. I knew immediately it was the yarn for my sweater.
I decided that I couldn’t wait until the owner of the sweater came into my life. I figured if I knit the sweater, the owner would become apparent when the sweater was done. I have never knit this way. I always start a project with the owner in mind–and I lovingly think of him or her as I knit. It keeps me focused and going. It gives me deep pleasure to think of them enjoying my creation.
It was a leap of faith, a metaphor really for where I was in my life. Use the beautiful yarn, start the sweater and see what happens. There is no need to have a plan lined up–start and see where it leads.
As I sat knitting this spring, on the porch of my dear friend Jen, she giggled with delight. She loved the idea that I was knitting sweaters for a future lover. “Oh Jen…” I sighed, “It doesn’t have to be a lover…Maybe its a teacher, a friend, a man on the street…Maybe the need to define someone who is worthy of such a complicated sweater is part of the problem. Maybe I will be free to give it away so much more easily having made it with love for no one in particular.
“I think the owner of that sweater will be the great love of your life,” she smiled. I loved that she believed that with all her might. When Jen believes things they sparkle somewhat as though dusted in fairy magic and you believe that maybe they might come true.
As I was about halfway through the body of the sweater it dawned on me that I might not have enough yarn. I almost despaired and ripped it out but kept going. I thought it would be my fishes and loaves project. I kept telling myself that if I just kept knitting I would have enough yarn–and if not, a solution would present itself. And just when I thought I would indeed run out–I found the smallish manufacturer on line. I have yet to connect with them by telephone in Ireland but they claim they will ship to the US. The dye lot may be off, but it will be close enough.
Having crossed that bridge with momentum and spunk, I suddenly hit a brick wall. One day, I just stopped. I have put the project aside for now. Sweltering mid-Atlantic July days don’t mix with heavy Irish wool. But also, if I am honest, I am not sure I am ready to finish. Its as though having leapt I am now kind of wondering, “What the heck is this about? Complicated sweaters made with great great love for no one in particular? REALLY? REALLY? What’s that about?’
And I’ve stumbled upon another metaphor–a metaphor that is all too familiar right now from where I stand. The moment that comes when you are in the thick of slogging away for a dream. When you far enough from the beginning but the end is so far away, so fuzzy, so completely unformed and unknowable that you suddenly wonder if you were crazy for having started. When its too hot and too hard and you are not sure what comes next so maybe you should just go to the pool and read a book.
Its been weeks, dare I say it months, that this sweater has sat in a bag on the corner of the bench in my living room. I know pretty soon, that it will just go into a deep dark closet, a good idea, a possibility that never was to be, a funny story. I have looked at it with a sigh lately, so sorry for the fate I know is coming–the closet of unrealized dreams.
But I won’t let it happen. While to be honest, I am not sure what to do next about this dream, I know I can move forward with this sweater. I will call the yarn manufacturer in Ireland and I will order what I need to finish and I will pick up the needles and the yarn I have left and I will keep going. Not because I am attached to any of the stories Jen, Odette and I have made up about this magical sweater, but because it needs to get done. It was started and it wants to be finished. It needs to be born.
For five years I have wanted to make this sweater.
Its time is now.