Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Magnum Opus

I knew a woman named Jan who knit on
one blanket for almost a whole year. On the project page her notes
say that she took several "sabbaticals", so it's possible that during one of
those breaks, she worked on something else. If she did, I never saw it. The
blanket was so closely associated with her in my mind that once she did finish
and I started seeing her without it at Stitch and Bitch, I really did miss the thing
(and made sure to tease her about the lack plenty. "We won't even recognize you
without that blanket!")

The blanket was knit modularly, square by tiny squre. Primarily yellow, with
lots of other cheerful colors mixed in, it was just the kind of happy thing you
would hope to see a child wrapped up in. She chose to knit it with Cascade
Sierra, an 80/20 cotton and wool blend. That yarn really made the rounds at our
LYS, especially for baby things. It's heavy and tends towards splittiness, but
its durability and washable nature made it good choice for small people. With so
many color changes, Jan made the wise choice to weave in the ends as she knit.
As a matter of fact, I think I remember more of her weaving in ends than
actually knitting.

Slowly but surely, it came together. You can see in the picture that she was
rightly proud of her accomplishment. I don't know if she would have thought of
it as a magum opus- great work- but I certainly do. I'm always impressed with
knitters who have the capacity to see a Herculean project through to the end
(maybe because I'm not one of them.) I know that Jan was motivated by love even
bigger than the work itself, for the son of a good friend. How wonderful to have
left behind a finished object that wasn't so much a feat of knitterly skill as
it was a tangible act of devotion.

Jan passed away last weekend unexpectedly, leaving a hole in our little group of knitters. She will be truly missed. To me personally, she was very supportive of my many life changes, and attended my confirmation in the Episcopal Church last December, when I'm sure it would have been easier to sleep in on a cold Sunday morning. After the Knit Nook closed, Jan did much to keep us seeing each other often, . Plans had been made to go out for lunch this Saturday. Instead, we'll be going to her funeral. I knew that Jan was active in many other crafts prior
to knitting, including making jewelry, embroidery, counted cross stitch,
needlepoint, and even some sewing, but I was surprised to learn from Ravelry
that she only really started her knitting career in January 2008. Her neat
stitches and willingness to tackle a big project belied a more experienced
knitter. I felt like I knew her much longer, but not long enough. I guess there
isn't ever a "long enough" time to know someone you care about.

It's easy to get bogged down by the enormity of death. I mean, it is for me
anyway. My finite human brain has a hard time grasping things like "forever" and
"eternity" and "never again". Maybe it's better for us mortals to consider
instead the evidence of a well-lived life, like fun memories, good friends, and excellent handmade objects. I hope that Jan is sitting around the table in the big yarn shop in the sky, chatting with other departed knitters, and enjoying an endless supply of beautiful wool.


  1. Holly - Such a beautiful writing about a wonderful human being. Thank you for describing the beauty of Jan, her caring for others, always knitting something for someone else - knitting her love and devotion into so many stitches. I will miss her gentle voice and so appreciate your thoughtful words about a very special lady.

  2. This is beautiful, Holly. Thank you.

  3. I sorry about your friend, Holly. Those are sweet memories for you to treasure. {HUGS}