My friend is not well. She is the worst kind of not well, the sort where she feels fine, but is being told that there is a terrible invader. Her illness was discovered by accident as she was having a test for a pretty normal, benign reason. We had one of those talks. The one where your friend phones you and tells you that “they found something” and then there is much reassuring talk about how it will turn out to be nothing and we will all laugh about this big scare and giggle madly about how it’s just like this friend to have the audacity to worry you. She phoned a few weeks later. It was not nothing. It was something. A bad something.
The irony of having your health at the gravest risk it has ever been, while you feel absolutely terrific is hard to absorb. The idea that she will need surgery to remove something that she cannot feel and isn’t seemingly being injured by….well. She is scheduled for major surgery on this afternoon and I am a knitter. The only thing I could think of was to knit something. I looked up (because I am holistic medecine hippy type) what might help her and discovered that rose quartz (the stone) is good for the kidneys. It stimulates kidney regeneration- that seemed especially good for someone having kidney surgery and it balances anger and tension…which I thought would be fantastic, since if I had kidney cancer, I would be seriously pissed. Rose quartz grounds you, aids in communication and increases creativity. Rose quartz sounded perfect, but I am a knitter….and you can’t knit crystals. Oh…
Sure enough…Blue Moon has a colourway…Rose Quartz. Three skeins of the heavyweight were procured, and knitting commenced…or ..almost commenced. What to knit?
I knew I wanted something big and snuggly. Something she could take to the hospital and wrap herself in. Something she could leave lying around to look at. Something sturdy. Something safe.
I didn’t want to make her anything fragile. I wanted something that would make her feel tougher…. a really tough bit off knitting that could take whatever heat is headed my friends way. Something to be a barrier between her and some of the hard things she will be doing.
As for pattern, that was easy. Each time my friend has left a doctors appointment of some import, as she makes her way home an eagle has crossed her path. Remarkably, the day she was diagnosed one landed right in front of her, other days they cross her path…wide wings sweeping her way. She felt, as did I, that the eagles were a message. A powerful portent of well being, an omen of good. As she told me of another encounter with an eagle and how strong and safe it made her feel, it came to me.
I would knit wings. Feathers.
I scoured stitch dictionaries. I swatched, I knit, I ripped back. The Rose Quartz dripped off the needles as I worked it out. I chose “alternating lace” (page 58, volume 2 of the Harmony Guides) and knit that for a while. I started at the back neck, increasing four stitches each right side row. One at each end and two either side of a centre stitch. As I had more stitches, I took them into the pattern.
When I had enough of that pattern I went back to the stitch dictionaries and found “Trellis-Framed Leaf Pattern” – from Barbara Walker 1 (which claims to be leaves but really looks like feathers to me.) I sorted out how best to begin it so the patterns would flow (sort of) from one to the other,
and I kept knitting.
The Big Pink Thing got bigger. I knit an edging, one that looked feathery to me. (Adapted from Heirloom Knitting.) I kept knitting.
I blocked it, and it got bigger. In the end, The Feathers Shawl was about 2.5 metres from tip to tip.
That’s about 8 feet. (For the record, that’s just three skeins of STR Heavyweight)
A Rose Quartz heavy weight shawl, with the feathers of her totem eagle knit in, warm and sturdy to wrap around her. I know that really, when your friend is sick and far away, that knitting can really do very little to actually care for them, but since all I can do is knit a big pink thing and mail it, then I sincerely hope it helps. I truly feel she will be fine, but it wouldn’t hurt if she was held for a moment in your thoughts today.