Monday, August 4, 2014

Knitting is Therapy

I know that statement is kind of a cliché but I can attest that every bit of it is true. My father passed away last Friday and I found myself knitting more than I thought possible. It became, and still is, a part of the healing process for me.

Last week started out normal enough. I spent that Saturday giving a family day at the Spiral Jetty, the amazing Land art by Robert Smithson in Great Salt Lake. My museum is a steward of the Jetty along with Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster and we had a day of art and science with families. It was fun and educational. With the GSLI I discovered a rare salt crystal called a hopper crystal. It is a type of hollow squared crystal shaped like a hopper.

They form at the edge of the rapidly evaporating salt water when the edges of the crystal grow faster than the center leaving it hollowed out. You have to pull them out of the lakebed like teeth. I was so impressed with the crystals because they are incredibly fragile and beautiful. I knew then that I would be making something inspired by them.

So, I spent Sunday drafting a pattern and knitting a swatch for a pillow with concentric squares. I thought it was a funny oxymoron, a crystal pillow. My plan was to take this project to work and have it be my lunchtime knitting project for the next couple months. It would be easy to talk and knit it at the same time and it is connected to my work in a way.

So I took the new pattern and yarn and needles to work waiting for our knitting club at lunch. But, on Tuesday I got the call that my dad had had a stroke and it was pretty bad. I rushed to the hospital with what I had at work, my purse and my knitting.

Throughout the next four days of interminable waiting for operations and tests and news, I knit and knit and knit. Square after square. Knit, knit, purl, purl, endlessly on. By the time I was done with the front, my dad was in a coma and on life support. By the time I had finished one side of the back, we had taken him off life support and watched him pass away.

The final back panel, blocking, and seaming took place amid endless phone calls, funeral plans, and frantic hunts for passwords and unpaid bills. When the stress and chaos got too much for me I had my knitting to retreat to.

The end result is a sort of metaphor for the grief of the last week. An oxymoron of a crystal pillow patterned after a hollow crystal shell, an image of endless squares giving the illusion of infinity.

So, in honor of my dad, the funniest, most optimistic man that meant so much to me, I am publishing this Hopper Crystal Pillow pattern. I don’t think I will ever make another one, there is too much pain memory knitted into the pattern for me. But I hope others enjoy it, it really was therapy for me.

1 comment:

  1. Knitting is so supportive. I carry it along and the repetition calms me. I can think and ponder as my fingers form each stitch or I can simply zone out and when I wake again discover the growing fabric under my fingers.
    My heart goes out to you for your loss. You wonder if it is better to have the quick shock or the lingering. My mom just died in July - her diagnosis was in February. We had a lot of time to prepare but we also had waking each morning to uncertainty and pain. And in the end even with time to adjust and get ready the shock still overwhelms you. Mom and I knit many projects together this year and it was therapeutic. I must admit afterwards I just kind of lost my knitting and could not consentrate. I am slowly finding my sts again and falling into a new rhythem.
    Take time for yourself to heal