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Topic: Knitting metaphor eulogy (sorry, long sad post with FO pics)  (Read 1378 times)
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marimbachick
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« on: December 07, 2005 08:34:01 PM »

I don't know why I've been thinking about this lately.  Perhaps with the holdays coming around, I've been thinking about these people and these projects and this whole situation.  I guess it's best to start at the beginning.

In April of this year, one of my best friends, Chaz, committed suicide.  He was this amazingly talented guy, and was going to finish school this year with a degree in Music Education.  He played the trumpet, conducted the marching band, taught marching band and drum corps to high schoolers, and in general, was one of the dearest people I've ever known.  He had been dealing with depression for several years, but this still came as a total surprise to all of his friends and family.

But enough about that...maybe it's the colorway in one of the Christmas projects I'm making, or maybe it's the Lion Brand Homespun I just used for another project, but I keep thinking about the sweater I finished just after his passing.  I had begun it two summers before, abandoned it because the weather was miserable, and just didn't want to finish it.  But in that week after he died, I did nothing but knit on that sweater.  I knit like my life depended on it...and in a way, I think it did.  It kept me sane, it helped me overcome the shock and stress of the whole debacle.  My good friend Heidi sat next to me on her couch with her crochet work, and we just sat together, tears running down our faces, working, and not saying a word.

I was asked to speak at his memorial service, and tried for days to write something down, but nothing sounded right.  The day before the service, I finished the sweater, and the next morning, the words flowed like water.  Here's what I wrote:

This thing Im wearing today is a sweater I started knitting last July. Ive been working on it off and on since that time, putting it away when something more pressing came to my attention. But in the last couple months Ive made it a goal to get the darn thing over and done with, before it gets too hot to work on it.

The last time Chaz and I spent an evening together, about two or three weeks ago, I brought the sweater along. We went out to dinner and returned to his apartment to watch a movie. At that point I got out my project and set to work. Now about that time, I was just starting work on the backside of the sweater, and I had, maybe, two inches done.

What are you making? he asked me.
A sweater, I said proudly. Ive been working on it for, like, nine months.
He looked at me, looked at the little piece of fabric in my hands, looked back at me, raised his eyebrows, and said, I think youve got a ways to go yet.

I finished this sweater yesterday morning. Its my first attempt at a project of this size, so naturally, I did a lot of screwing up. Theres a hole here in the front where I dropped a stitch, and the back flips up weird, and this one sleeve is just barely shorter than the other. But despite its problems, I love it and wear it for what it is: comforting, soft and warm, perfect for chilly nights. Its real, and human, and not so artificial and perfect as a sweater youd find in a store.

I look at my experiences with Chaz in the same way. He was human, to be sure, far from perfect, but that was part of his charm. He was unashamed of the person he was, and made no excuses for any part of himself. He loved a good meal, a good drink, a good movie, a good cigar, a good joke, a good debate. He was passionate about marching band and drum corps, and if anyone poked fun at it, he could defend it until the cows came home. His political opinions left no squeeze room; there was no convincing him he might be wrong. But he also had this unbelievable heart, and he loved a great many people very powerfully, holding nothing back, even if it meant getting his own heart broken. He would defend a friend against anything, and could always be counted on to listen and give advice.

I find myself unable to dwell on this final unfortunate event in Chazs life. When people see this sweater, they can only say how much they love the colors, or how soft it is. If I, being the perfectionist I am, point out the hole or the too-short sleeve, everyone dismisses it, saying, The rest is beautiful. This last hole in the story of Chaz is nothing short of tragic, yes. But when I step back and look at the big picture of this person I loved, I can only say, The rest is beautiful.

So what I ask of you is this: Look at the big picture. Right now, its okay to be sad, but dont spend the rest of your life focusing on this one moment in Chazs life. Remember the restthe colors, the softness, the warmth. The rest is beautiful, and thats whats important.


The sweater (which I don't seem to have a picture of) sits packed away in a chest at my parents' house.  I can't bring myself to wear it much since that day.

I had lots of yarn left over after that, so I used it to make an afghan for his family.  I had just made him a basketweave patterned scarf for his birthday a month before he died, so I chose that pattern to make the blanket meaningful to me. I also made the blocks in groups of five stitches, since there are five members of his family.  Here's the result:



I don't know where else I should have put this whole thing, but I felt like sharing it with the wonderful people of Craftster.  You are all a JOY to my life, and I hope each and every one of you KNOWS what a treasure you are.  Tell the people you love how you feel every day of your life.

Mods, you can relocate this post if you feel it's necessary, just PM me and let me know.  Thanks. Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2005 09:05:14 PM »

I think what you wrote is absolutely beautiful!

A work buddy of mine recently ended his life and I only wish I could have spoken so eloquently.

I hope the mods don't remove this, because I think the whole thing about the sweater's flaws speaks volumes about why we create.
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2005 09:06:51 PM »

Thank you for sharing. {{ Smiley}} Your story was beautiful as is your afghan.
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marimbachick
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2005 09:11:50 PM »

I think the whole thing about the sweater's flaws speaks volumes about why we create.

I think, I'm not sure yet, but I think that's why I wanted to share this with you guys.  Crafting is a part of what makes us human, and with humanity comes the occasional flaw.

Chaz, as I said in my piece, was NOWHERE near a perfect person.  He was a stubborn arse, and if he didn't like you, well, you probably KNEW.  But aside from those personality quirks, he was one of my favorite people in the world.  We always said if I were only a boy, he would marry me and we'd run off and be gay together, lol.

My mom shared with me one time a story she'd read somewhere about a certain crafting culture where they purposefully make ONE mistake in each piece, because perfection is something only God can attain.
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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2005 09:20:01 PM »

That's so sad.  I'm sorry about your loss.  You sound like a great friend.  The afghan is beautiful and the family will certainly treasure it.
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2005 09:55:45 PM »

Thanks for sharing. That was very sweet. Sorry for your loss. He sounds like a great friend,
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2005 10:04:36 PM »

wow. that was one of the most touching and powerful things that i've read in a while.  I'm so sorry about your loss.  it's great that crafting helped you direct your emotions at such a tough time.
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2005 10:05:11 PM »

That was an amazing eulogy, I only wish I could be that eloquent, especially when I am upset.  The afghan is amazing, I love the colors.  As for the making at least one mistake in a project because nothing can be perfect unless made by god, I believe that it is the Amish women who practice that when making their quilts, which are always amazing and I can never find the mistake unless pointed out to me.  (If I were to make a quilt trust me you would see the mistake).
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2005 10:14:12 PM »

wow.. all i can say is wow. that eulogy was beautiful. i'm so sorry for your loss
i really understand what you mean about crafting during difficult times though. it's easier to deal with the world when you can get lost in your own enviornment and be in control, at least for this one moment of your life.
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2005 08:04:46 AM »

that was truly beautiful, thank you for taking the time and finding the energy to share that with us.  {{{hug}}}
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