Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The yellow cap

It is for her son, in a mustard yellow that reminds him of Israel.

It started simply enough, a small band of ribbing around the bottom, as her husband drove her to the airport to visit her daughter in Florida, the first week of this new year. You can see where she has knitted evenly and purposefully, up to the place where decreases need to begin to shape the top of the cap.

An inch into the shaping and she received the call. Her beloved sister, the one she speaks with every day across thousands of miles to Israel, has suddenly and without warning left this life.

She has not cried. She has sat shiva for a week and returns, throws the cap at me, says, “Fix it.”

The cap’s knitting struggles and succumbs to a jumble of I-don’t-know-what-to-do stitches, purl stitches where there should be knit, shaping abandoned entirely, gathered, sewn down, harsh, a giant flat-felled seam of four layers of lumped-up wool. I find the end and begin to salvage it, but discover stitches split beyond repair, damaged yarn: disregard, disarray, and chaos. Wool in fallout.

I begin cutting with small scissors. I use a friend’s head to make sure the cap will fit; I knit it to the very top, clip the yarn, pull the end through those eight waiting loops, to a beautifully finished star.

I leave the tapestry needle, threaded, in the inside of the cap. She will wend the final end through loops on the inside, invisibly, and the cap is still her work, her gift. And on the head of her son, it will remember.


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