Friday, January 30, 2009

Knittin' Crap: A Sweater's Story

lilycardi I stayed up a little too late last night finishing this cardigan. Yes, it was about 2½ years since I actually started it. No, it was not at all a complicated pattern, although all those seed stitch borders were pretty torturous. (Seed stitch is Evil.)

I first saw the yarn, Noro Lily Multi, at the beginning on March 2006. I had met my parents at Dulles Airport for my grandmother's 85th birthday. She lived in Richmond with my aunt, but first we spent a day in DC, getting a tour of the Capitol from my cousin, a fire safety engineer there. Afterwards, my father went to the National Air & Space Museum and my mother and I, well, found a yarn store. We took a cab a mile or so from the Mall to a place called Stitch DC. I actually only got two skeins of the Lily at the time because I didn't know what to do with it, and I was actually a yarn-knitting neophyte, not thinking in sweater terms.

We decided to walk back to the museum to meet my father. As we stepped out of the yarn store, my mother told me my father was going to have surgery in a month because he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Personally, I think dropping that kind of bomb in the nation's capital is a form of emotional terrorism, but none of the dozen or so different police forces seemed to notice.

They had caught that cancer early, but my father had all kinds of complications from the surgery itself. A pulmonary embolism led to use of anticoagulants, which led to internal bleeding and multiple infections. He was in the hospital for months and had multiple surgeries for the bleeding. But I never believed he wouldn't make it, even when my usually stoic and optimistic mother panicked. I don't know if it was denial or what, but it was what it was. And he did make it.

Meanwhile, I had found a sweater pattern I liked, a simple one, and ordered more of the same yarn. I was happily knitting away, and had finished the back, the two front pieces, and a sleeve when... no more yarn. I was, after all, inexperienced at choosing my own yarn for a pattern and had underestimated. It was by now about a year, I think, since I had bought the original two skeins. I went to order more and... it had been discontinued by the manufacturer.1 They were out. Uh, what?

I finally found someone selling a few leftover skeins on ebay (yay, ebay to the rescue!), but I had set the sweater aside and started other things. It took me probably another year to get back to it. And then I had to knit those two interminable seed stitch plackets...

lily-side But around that time, my father had been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. They only found it at the beginning of June when a brain tumor had altered his behavior.2 And I knew this time that he wouldn't make it. I just knew, because of the bad health he'd been in in the last few years, which had also sapped him emotionally (I cannot understate the severity of his phobia of hospitals, and after being stuck in one for almost half a year, I can't blame him all that much). I couldn't tell either of my parents, though, because I didn't want him to think I had no faith, and I knew my mother didn't want to believe it. I wasn't going to try to break her hope. I don't know if I should have or not, but I did what I thought was best.

Of course, he didn't make it this time. The survival rates once lung cancer has spread that much are grim. We just didn't expect to lose him in three months.

So, I finished the sweater last night. In a convoluted way, it will always remind me of my father.

1 Too bad. I really like working with it. I managed to get sweater-quantity of another colorway at closeout price.
2 They managed to remove the first brain tumor (yes, there was a second one found later), which was right against the skull in front. When I saw my father in the hospital right after, he said they used a jackhammer to get it out. Yup, that was my father, all right. And as stubborn as he was, they would have needed some serious power tools to get through his thick skull.


Steph said...

I've always found it interesting, the way connections are made between events,objects and people. I have a bunch of those as well, also revolving around cancer. Some good, some not so much. I hope your sweater is one of the good ones in time. :) - Kla

Karen said...

I have a necklace I made about a dozen years ago that reminds me of that crappy caveman-in-the-Valley Pauly Shore movie, as I was, for some unknown reason (I blame my roommate) watching it while I was working on the necklace.

Now, that's a memory I really want preserved...