I had intended, dear crafter, to write my next post about the wondrous sense of immortality I get from every stitch I work up, and every pattern I publish.
I was planning to wax overly-lyrical about how, as creatives, we are in an enviable position. That every poem we commit to paper, spindle we turn, thread we lace, stitch we make, daub of paint blobbed, note sung, flower pressed, we ensure a little speck of us will last long after we’ve breathed our last.
I was planning on describing how I feel about this.
I had phrases I was excited to use in context like “the breath of history” and “wrapping future generations on our soft, squishy stitches”, but all of that has been hastily set aside as all of this came into timely and desperately sad focus two days ago.
That was when I got a text from a former crochet student of mine late at night about another student from the same class. Short, and to the point as she always is; “Did you hear about Susan? RIP.”
I hadn’t heard, and what followed was a frantic, sleepy search for confirmation online, wondering what had happened, how her family was, and a little unexpectedly, I found myself wondering what her last crochet project had been, and if she had managed to finish it.
Of course, there are more important things in life. Of course there are.
But brains go to odd places when they’re in shock, and that one thought has stuck with me since.
Susan was not my most naturally gifted student. She’d tell you that herself. In fact, she did tell me that, at least three times every class.
Whatever the opposite of the phrase “duck to water” is, that would have fit her at the beginning. She hadn’t held a scrap of yarn in her life, so this, as she was closing in on retirement was totally new. But she was by far my most determined student. She worked at it like I have never seen anyone work before. She chipped away at those stitches like they were a coal face, and little by little, stitch by hard-won stitch she began to see the pattern in each double crochet, each half treble, then her fabric smoothed out, her hook stopped sticking, and she immediately started to make things for her beloved children.
A scarf for him as he began a new job.
A slouchy hat for her because she could find nothing that fit around all her curly hair.
Christmas decorations for her neighbour.
A hat for the dog…
And she gifted me with some spare fabric from a ill-fated attempt to learn dressmaking years earlier, a serger she’d never used, gluten free flour when I expressed a curiosity…
She was such a effortlessly generous lady and I have no doubt in my head she would have continued to make things that would have brought pleasure to others for many years to come, if she had been given the chance.
And now, with her so suddenly, so sadly gone, I know for sure that those gifts, those beautifully imperfect, ragged-edged, gloriously unique gifts that she worked so hard to produce will be more precious to her family and friends than anything else in the world, and that they will remember her every time they reach out and touch the same stitches she did.
That may not be immortality, but it sure is close.