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How I felt that day

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How I felt that day

I got a call from my husband Saturday while I was at the shop.  I don't typically take calls while I'm teaching, but he doesn't typically call me while I'm teaching, so I knew something was up.

Me:        Hey, what's up?

Bill:         Um, I was putting the clothes in the dryer and there's something that doesn't look like it ought to go in the dryer.

Me:        What is it?

Bill:         I dunno.  It's a sweater-like thing.  It's white.


Bill:          It's really small. It kind of looks like a child's sweater


Bill:          Are you there?

Me:        expletive deleted

Bill:         What should I do with it?

Me:        expletive deleted Doesn't matter.

Bill:         I'm sorry

It wasn't even his fault.  I'm the one.  After carefully soaking my lovely Trace in Eucalan, I carried it gently to the washer and put it on Drain and Spin, the most awesome cycle ever.  It takes my clean sweaters and spins them until they're nearly dry, and then I lay them out, shape them to size, and let them air dry.  Except, I was busy Friday morning.  Lots going on, and I forgot about it my drained and spun sweater waiting in the washer.  As I rushed around Friday night, I shoved a load of towels in the washer - two Tide pods, one white pod, hot water, and an hour and fifteen minutes.  Sigh   And no one to blame but myself. 

I loved that sweater.  A beautiful design by Shellie Anderson knit with luxurious Shibui yarn.  I wore it all the every winter for three years.  Like all perfect clothing, it made me feel beautiful and powerful, and as a hand-knit, it made me feel accomplished.  And now it's gone. 

Am I sad about it?  Of course, but at the end of the day, a sweater, even a hand-knit one, is just a thing.  And stuff happens.  Anything could have happened at any time.   During one of its many wearings, I could easily have spilled a bite of curry and stained the front.  I could have caught a thread and ripped a big hole in it.  Right?  I guess my point is that if you are going to knit things to wear, you are going to expose them to all manner of opportunity for disaster.   Because what else are you going to do? Knit stuff and lock it up in a drawer?  What good is that?  I hear knitters talk about the beautiful things they knit for their grandchildren, only to have the mothers carefully fold them away, and the child never gets to wear it.  That's not what knitting is about.  It's not what life is about. 

My mother died with boxes fine British hand-milled soap stacked in her closet and a bottle of Suave in her shower.  Monogrammed engraved stationery, she didn't use went into the recycling.  Saving it, she was, I suppose, but for what?  For when?  I am of the opinion that if you have something so valuable that it cannot be used or enjoyed, donate it to a museum, and get on with your life.  Use the nice stuff.  Set the children's table with china and crystal. Wear your hand-knits and other lovely things. Even if they're super special - especially if they're super special, because why else do you have it if not to enjoy it?  And if not now, when?  

Soap will get used up; crystal might break, and you might stain your sweater, but life is short, and nothing in it is permanent, save the memories we make. 

I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table.  You are always welcome here  ~Ellen

Back to 18 June 2019 Newsletter

Comments on this post (17)

  • Jun 24, 2019

    I remember when that call came through. I think the whole room felt heartbroken on your behalf. But to take such a despairing moment and find a way to turn it into a moment of growth is nothing short of inspiring. Thank you for sharing this story. Your posts are so genuine and positive. I look forward to continuing to learn and grow alongside you.

    — Mia

  • Jun 23, 2019

    Such a good reminder- to use the good stuff! I’m sorry about your sweater, though.

    Your laundry story reminds me of a story my grandmother used to tell. My mother and her twin brother were about 4 years old (back in 1939 when doing laundry was much more work than it is now.) My grandmother had carefully put in a load of my grandfather’s white shirts and my uncle got the idea to put the colored comics from the Sunday paper into the wash. It was quite a mess, probably ruined the shirts, and my grandmother sat down on the porch steps and cried. My uncle piped up: “You should be ashamed of yourself- a big girl like you- crying like that!” Grandma used to chuckle when she recounted that day, but I can imagine how her heart sank when she discovered what her mischievous little boy had done!

    — Amy

  • Jun 23, 2019

    Thanks, Dara. I’m working on it. 😉

    — Ellen Lewis

  • Jun 21, 2019

    Perfectly written. You need to write a book along the lines of “Zen and the Art of Knitting”

    — Dara Orkand Allen

  • Jun 19, 2019

    Carol, A felted purse could work. Someone had suggested a pillow, but the purse idea appeals. Do you have a pattern? I’m not much of a seamstress…

    — Ellen Lewis

  • Jun 19, 2019

    Cathy B. – yeah, he’s pretty awesome that way. Everyone assumed he had done the deed, but it was me. He was just the first on the scene ;)

    — Ellen Lewis

  • Jun 18, 2019

    When the same happened to me, after the wave of emotions, I couldn’t bear to part with it. I am going to make a felted purse from it. Just a thought…perhaps there is still life in that favorite piece yet!

    — Carol

  • Jun 18, 2019

    I’m sorry about your sweater, but I’m more impressed that your husband does laundry…. 😉

    — Cathy B

  • Jun 18, 2019

    Thank you for your heartfelt condolences and for sharing your similar experiences. As poet Alfred Tennyson said,

    ’Tis better to have loved and lost
    Than never to have loved at all.

    — Ellen

  • Jun 18, 2019

    Just a quick note to say, I loved this post. How often have we all had this happen… whether its sweaters that were washed or my favorite bowls from teaism (this tea house in DC who had the most perfect soup bowls for sale, one of which I dropped in the sink two years back). Thinking about it, I think we all even have that one project or yarn we’re saving – for when we have the time, for whenever. You’re right – Use the good stuff, seize the day!

    — Michael

  • Jun 18, 2019

    I was there . . .and felt your despair. 50 some years later, I still remember the moment I pulled my “Villager” wool sweater with the fairisle yoke out of the washing machine. . child sized indeed! Not beautifully hand knit, but a longed for gift that stretched our budget. Your words about “stuff” are so true. The wisdom we gain as we go through life. Can’t wait to see the yarn you pick for your new Trace!

    — Anne

  • Jun 18, 2019

    You are so right. My aunt used her sterling flatware every day for meals. She was of the vein of use it and enjoy it while you can. I loved that about her!! So now you have this story to share and maybe it will remind some of us to not go there…..and maybe not. But we will all survive happenings of this sort!!

    — Connie L. Khinoo-Olsen

  • Jun 18, 2019

    Well… I think I’m going to use that soap, cut that pretty fabric, knit that beautiful silk, use the nice hand lotion, and write on those pretty thank you’s! I am truly thankful that I use my crystal and antique glass – that would be so wasteful – lol!!!

    What a nice story and lesson. I have lots of things that I save. And for when or what? Thank you!

    — Sue

  • Jun 18, 2019

    Yes, exactly!

    — Elaine M Phillips

  • Jun 18, 2019

    Beautiful reminder to treasure each and every moment! Thank you for sharing!!!

    — Jill

  • Jun 18, 2019

    Ah yes, Ellen and Susan! Thank you. How alike we all are!

    — Ann Boyer

  • Jun 18, 2019

    So sorry about your beautiful sweater Ellen. It gave one last special moment – this very important message! Thanks for reminding us!

    — Susan

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