Sunday, September 15, 2013


"I think I lost it
Let me know if you come across it
Let me know if I let it fall
Along a back road somewhere
Money can't replace it
No memory can erase it
And I know I'm never gonna find
Another one to compare."

- Lucinda Williams

... ... ... ... ...

I looked everywhere, but it was lost.

The shawl I had poured so much love into while I was pregnant, knitting stitch after stitch during the twice a week non-stress tests that became the routine after my gestational diabetes diagnosis.  Knitting during sleepless nights.  In anticipation of the baby girl soon to be in my arms, I worked on the soft cotton feather and fan every free moment, finishing just two days before she was born.

Now it was missing.

The shawl matched her little baby vest and hat.

The shawl bundled her up as we transferred her back and forth to the hospital for blood tests during those stressful early days of jaundice and worry.

The shawl hugged my shoulders during late night nursing sessions.  The shawl comforted us both during the endless nights of colic and tears.

The shawl was what I wrapped her in before kissing her goodbye and handing her to her father that dreadful night in the hospital when no one could tell me what was wrong with me or why my limbs were numb and tingly and my vision was blurry (the night I thought I might never see her or any of my babies again). 

The shawl carried me through during the months of anxiety and eventual depression that followed after years of having to be too strong in too many situations for far too long.

When I didn't want to get out of bed, when I didn't want to get dressed, the simple act of draping the shawl over my shoulders was an important first small step toward pulling myself together, facing the days.  It was a little act of hope at a time when I felt hopeless.  An armor when I felt fragile.

The shawl become a symbol to me of the bond between my baby girl and I, the hard times we were both getting through.

My fingers memorized every stitch and as the time passed and my baby grew, I was able to look back and feel proud of what I had accomplished, what I had survived.  The shawl became yet another knitted metaphor of my life.

It was missing.

At first, I was frantic, calling and making inquiries at all of the places we had been with the shawl in tow, but to no avail. No one had seen our cream colored shawl.  No one was familiar with its loops and waves.

I might have lost my mind a little bit; I definitely lost perspective.

I spent days sorting through boxes and bins and closets.  I was ransacking dressers and moving furniture and peering under beds.

I snapped at my husband, accused the children, and became obsessed with my amateur detective work, desperate to locate the shawl and all it symbolizes to me.

I even imagined for a brief period of time that a relative I had seen give attention to the shawl over the holidays when it covered Amelia's car seat to protect her from the cold - examining it too closely the little voice in my head whispered - might have stolen it, not knowing its importance, perhaps believing that I could just, as a knitter, quickly whip up another to replace it.

(Paranoid much, Kara?)

As the months went by and the shawl didn't reappear, I grew somber about it, but I grudgingly let my search go.  After all, there were other knitted objects in our home to love and this wasn't even the first feather and fan shawl that had come to mean so much to me, nor the first one I had knit while I was pregnant.  Though it might be the last.

People were more important than things, and I still had all of my people.

Still, I was wistfully mentioning it at least once a day, even in July's heat,"I really wish I knew where Amelia's shawl was."

I mourned the shawl.  It was something I intended as an heirloom for Amelia, something I had created just for her, this fourth baby already inheriting so many hand-me-downs, yet who I felt needed something she knew had been created only for her by her mother's hands.

I imaged it wrapped around her shoulders someday as she rocked her own babies.

I cried.

I cursed my own carelessness.  I can be so stupid.

Knitting a shawl soft enough for a baby, soaking up the sunshine, Summer 2011.

I briefly considered making another one, but I know all too well the irony that the person who would soak up my time and attention, and thus keep me from knitting another intricate shawl in any near future, was the very person I wanted to make it for.

Oh, the dilemma of the knitting mother of very young children:  we want to create for them because we love them, yet because we love them they keep our arms too full for our craft.

At last, I gave up.  I stopped looking.

It was not the season of life for intricate knitting and it was not the season of life to let the things I cannot control burden me.  I resigned myself to the shawl's mysterious fate, and vowed to be less careless in keeping track of knitted objects in the future.

And, then yesterday the September temperatures dove down, down, down plunging us from searing heat to biting air so cold we could see our breath in the morning.  The tote with our hats, mittens, and scarves was retrieved from storage.  There, buried under layers of wooly stockinette coverings in blues and oranges and purples was the shawl, an obvious cream sail in the sea of color. Of course!

The shawl had been carefully folded, which can only mean that it was tucked away with love and intention by a forgetful mother, perhaps in a hurry to cross one more task off of her to-do list last Spring, perhaps imagining that she and her babe, now a toddler, wouldn't need it in the Summer's heat, knowing they could let it go until they needed it again.

No matter.

In the end, the story of the shawl, the baby, and the mother has a happy conclusion, on all counts.  And that, my friends, is the lesson.  That is what really matters.

... ... ... ... ...

Pattern: Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl by Sarah Bradberry

Please note that I personally purchased all yarn and needles I used to make this project. The pattern is free. This is not a sponsored or a gifted post.