Finishing Byron’s Sweater

It was supposed to be done by the fall.  Then Christmas, then New Year’s.  Now it’s February and I have two or three more rows to do, then sew in the sleeves and I’m done.  I knit a row or two a day, fewer now that I’m so close.  

I have that burning feeling in my chest, the one that means threat level infinity.  I will die from the inside out (like most people), and then my papery skin will collapse into ashes.  And that will be that.  

A woman in my knitting class answered the question:  because maybe it’s the last sweater you’ll ever knit for Byron.  Does she mean because I’m so old?  I think maybe she did.  I tried to think she meant he’ll be too old and won’t want a sweater from me. Right now he’s 13, almost 14 and nearly six feet tall.  Next year he’ll go to high school.  Next year I’ll go broke, and my knees will still hurt.  I’m afraid of next year.  The thought of not seeing my grandchildren grow into adults, that’s the burning feeling in my chest, the deadly little fire.  

I miss them already.  I miss their baby selves, the little warm bodies sitting on my lap or peering into the box of forbidden cookies.   

Maybe the sweater won’t fit, or will look comical.  Maybe it will go in a drawer, or the closet, and it will sit there, a representation of grandma-folly, a nice effort but a joke like the cozies the granny keeps knitting in the tv commercial.  If it does fit he’ll wear it to his friend Rhadia’s house, Rhadia being the Tommy Hilfiger model with the lazy eye.  

More yarn came in the mail yesterday.  It was the product of a gift certificate given to me by the women who come to my house to knit every Wednesday.  I make them coffee and offer them a place to sit and talk, so they thought they should give me something.  I chose carefully since the rivers of merino and silk that used to flow to me through UPS have dried into rocky abandoned pathways.  It came yesterday and it was all shades of gray.  And not 50 shades.  Actually, just two.  One pigeon, one slate.  I think my friends were kind of depressed by it, but they said it was beautiful.  I was fake enthusiastic, fake excited, because all I see in the gray yarn is a few more unfinished sweaters.  I can also do unfinished scarves and shawls and socks.  Some pigeon, some slate.

There’s a word knitters use:  STABLE, meaning “stash beyond life expectancy.”  I couldn’t possibly knit all the yarn I already have.  There’s the Fair Isle phase and the lush handpainted merino phase.  The even lusher handpainted merino and the lace weight and the silk and the silky cotton and the not-the-right-blue-so-I’ll-order-another-blue aran tweed.  

Maybe I don’t want to finish Byron’s sweater because there’ll be no more where that came from.  What then?


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