Diamonds and rust

Hello, and welcome to all you interesting and lovely people who did me the honour of reading the last post, the ranty one, showering me with compliments, and are now hanging about to see what I’m going to do next. I have no idea what I’m going to do next. I now feel a tad fraudulent – you do know this blog is mostly me whining about doctor’s appointments and just how horribly bad I am at menstruating, right? Sorry. *gnaws nails*

Or freaking out. There’s always me freaking out.

H and I took a few days off work. I won’t use the phrase ‘staycation’, because ‘staycation’ sounds like Day Camp for vampire slayers. But that. The problem with being at home with nothing to do except relax and enjoy yourselves leads to such behaviour as Visiting Ikea And Buying Storage Bins, which leads to Sorting Out The Knitting Stash, which leads to H laughing at me as I shriek: ‘How do I have this much yarn? I don’t even remember buying this? What is this? I have 45 litres of SOCK YARN! How am I ever going to knit all this? What was I thinking?’

And then you find the half-finished and abandoned knitting projects. I knew it would be in there somewhere, along with the scarf that came out too small, and the sock-I-can’t-be-arsed-to-knit-a-friend-for, and the half-a-pullover I’ve been havering about the neckline for.

It is most of a Shetland lace baby shawl, in very fine white wool, knitted on tiny needles. The sort of lace cloud a new-born is wrapped in for the home-from-hospital pictures, or for a Christening. It’s patterned with diamonds and trees-of-life and rose-buds, all chosen for their charming symbolism. I remember casting it on way back when H and I were still merely infertile, and, indeed, when I was still under the impression that as soon as we’d removed my uterine polyps and convinced Satsuma to just let an egg go once in a bloody while, I’d get pregnant. And, of course, carry the baby to term. Why shouldn’t I? I come from a Revoltingly Fertile Family. Carrying babies to term, through Hell or high water, is what we do. Or, what they do. I didn’t yet know I wasn’t one of them.

Of course, just about when I had nearly finished the body of the shawl and was trying to work out the maths (I am proper discalculic. Ask H. So this part was taking weeks) for the edging, I did get pregnant. And miscarried. And I didn’t have the heart to keep knitting. I told myself I’d get it out and finish it for the next baby. OK, for the one after that. Maybe for the third one. Damn it, not the third one. And since then I haven’t been able to face even looking at it. I think I have since once angrily announced I’d finish it if I ever got past the 12th week. And then I could use it as a fucking shroud, if necessary, because then there’d be something to bury.

Because you, oh Gentle Readers, are wise, and because all the above might have given you a clue that Not All Is Well chez the Psyche of May, you will be considerably less surprised than I was to discover that when I did unearth the shawl as I entirely expected to do this afternoon, still on the needles, still unfinished, I burst into tears. I flung myself into H’s arms and sobbed and sobbed.

‘What is it, darling?’ he asked, concerned, ‘A lace shawl? Oh, sweetheart, have the moths got it? No? What is it?’

‘It’s so beautiful,’ I choked out, ‘and it was for our first baby…’ and then I got snot on his shoulder (‘Dignity’ is my middle name. My first is ‘Lack of’).

Gentle Readers, this thing is beautiful. And so nearly finished. It breaks my heart.

H thinks I should just finish it. Partly because he’s feeling vaguely hopeful again these days, bless the dear eejit, and partly, well, because, did I mention it’s beautiful?

I could always auction it for a suitable charity, I suppose. If I can convince anyone to pay hundreds of pounds for it. I couldn’t let it go for less than hundreds of pounds, not even for the most excellent of causes. It has, after all, already cost me an infinity of grief.


27 responses to “Diamonds and rust

  • a

    You absolutely should finish it. For many reasons…but mainly for the baby that it will someday swaddle. I like to think it will be on your very much alive and slightly cranky baby.

  • Amy P

    Oh, love, I have no words *holds*

  • minta

    I have a similar project lurking amongst my yarn. I thought for sure I’d want to finish it if ever it seemed a live baby was coming home. Turns out? Not so much. It belongs to the dead babies. So I’ve decided to leave it as it is, rather as a tribute to them, if that makes any sense.

  • Esperanza

    😥 x infinity.

    Abiding with you.

  • MFA Mama

    Oh dear. No advice here, just a multitude of innernet hugs.

  • kylie

    Many hugs from this end.

    I would say finish it, because there may be closure there, and maybe a happy ending? Or if not- perhaps see if there is someone who will take it away and finish it on a knitting board somewhere. I think to keep it forever half finished is probably going to cause more angst. Says me of the many many UFOs in the cupboard and two plastic cases of fabric to sew with (so perhaps not the best qulified advisor)

  • jjiraffe

    I’m so sorry! I know what you mean about unexpectedly coming upon relics. I just found the ultrasound photos of the baby who miscarried in my sock drawer, and weeped. I can’t bear to get rid of them, either, for some odd reason. It’s the only connection I have? (((Hugs)))

  • Valery Valentina

    Hot silent tears escaping here.
    “because then there’d be something to bury”
    I hadn’t even thought of that. (and hardly dare to think of it)

  • Korechronicles

    Dearest May, if it were not for fear of the same fate of the disappearing socks, I would willingly offer to complete this masterpiece of hope for you and H. Despite the fact the smallest needle I use these days is an 8, that I have never found lace knitting relaxing or easy, and that I am probably as discalculic as your good self. I promise I would imbue every little stitch with as much love and care as I possibly could give, in between the colourful cursing at LACE KNITTING! WHY, OH LORD?, in the long-held and prayed for desire that it will one day be wrapped around your very own baby.

    I’m not at all surprised at the tears. I’d be raging in the same position…but I think H might be right. On two counts…it would have been worse had the moths got at it and it can knit together all those beautiful babies that might have been and the very special one that is.

    Much, much love and hugs all the way across the sea (and socks) to you both. xx

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    The shroud comment.
    I can empathise with that sort of anger so very, very much.

  • Hat

    Yes Finish it.
    I just read somewhere… possibly No Kidding in NZ, that this whole emotional thing, its a woman thing – so first name not lack of. And if we cant fall apart into husbands arm and snot all over their shoulder ( thats why they have broad shoulders and wear practical clothes anyways) then what is the point of getting married? 🙂
    But yes finish it, for your own peace of mind. and I agree let it go only for as much money as you need it to be worth. with a beautifully written note explaining the love and pain and hope that are woven through each knit and purl. Because who ever gets the chance to wrap that beautiful item around their baby, must honor and cherish it and realize just how Fortunate they are, and how precious babies are. Not to be taken for granted

  • Mina

    Another vote for “finish it”.
    What if this were the magic secret code you needed to get your baby from the big baby dispenser office? You know, those bureaucrats working there are no different from the rest of the bureaucrats working in any other office anywhere in the world. “Have you filled in form ABXZdash35Sslash800? No?! Then what are you here for? What do you mean, ‘to talk about your situation’? We do not talk here, lady, we file files and nails. Neeext!”
    See what I mean? What if this lace shawl is your partially filled in form and all you needed to do was to just finish it? When you get pregnant after you finish it, please remember my role in all this and know that I did this not for your blue eyes, but in exchange for a hand knitted cardi. Yes, I would do anything for a cardi, wouldn’t I?

  • starrhillgirl

    I have no idea what you should do with that project. But, wow, do I ever feel you, babe. Totally feel you.

  • manapan

    You should absolutely finish it when you feel able. And never let it go.

    It seems like the silliest thing, but when I was pregnant for the first time I bought this package of newborn shirts, and I bought a crib blanket and mobile for the second baby. When we finally had a Real Live Baby, they were the hand-me-downs from the siblings that never were. I still get teary-eyed thinking of the first day Tatoe finally wore one of those shirts, and also every time he uses that blanket or plays with the toys that are now separated from the mobile. But I genuinely cry thinking that I never got anything to pass down from the third baby.

    This gorgeous shawl contains all the love you’ve had for each of those precious little ones, even though you’ve never had a chance to work on it through many of the pregnancies. Even if you (deity of choice forbid!) never have a baby to wear it, it is a keepsake.

  • Anonymous

    You are entitled to every emotion you have.

    K x

  • Katie

    Oh, my dear, how heartbreaking.

    I did make a quilt for our baby before we had him, but we were approved, and waiting with the agency. And we were so lucky that nothing happened to him – either medical or legal – and that we have him home – if we hadn’t, it would still be his quilt. So I never had to look at it. But we also have a teddy bear I made for Sprout, which we will keep on the shelf, and when the baby is old enough, we will tell him about it.

    I think someone on Ravelry would finish it for you, and they might even keep it for you if you wanted. Would you like me to ask? I’m happy to do that.


  • Everydaystranger

    This is me, the voice telling you that you have to follow what you feel is right. Maybe you finish it, maybe you don’t, the end result is the one that your heart has to carry. I think we have a Something, many of us. My Something was kept in a box under the bed, and I knew that I would either be able to give it to my child or that it would live, forever, in that box. Making peace with that Something is an act only you can know. I don’t mean to sound all Mystic Minerva-ish or not, I just know that for me, that one thing I had for our future children was something that I lived with and knew it would either be out and about someday or hidden in a box for life. There was never an in-between for it.

    Much, much love.

  • minichessemouse

    i send you many many many hugs.

    do what feels right.

  • Mali

    Wow. This is a big ask. If you ever feel ready, then finish it. Finish it to keep, or if there is a very special baby, then for them (and the note suggestion for their parents – absolutely). I’ve just posted about giving things away. It is something to be done ONLY if and when you are able. But in the meantime, keep it somewhere safe on its needles, but somewhere where it won’t bring you regular (extra) pain by seeing it.

  • Nerrida


    It’s also an option to asking a friend to unravel it and knit it into something else. That’s how the “Girlfriend” market bag came into being.
    But it sounds like you might need to put it away and focus on some positive things, like knitting a pair of cosy socks.

    Take care.

  • bionicbrooklynite

    Oh, darlin’. I don’t have an answer. I wish I believed there were an answer that would really help, but I’m unconvinced that settling the symbol always settles what it represents. But then, I am stubborn in my sadnesses, and less literary than I could be.

    Much love to you all.

    • Twangy

      Can’t improve on Bionic here. Symbols are powerful – but at least if the shawl was complete, it’d be easier to do something with it? Or would it just be so sad to work on it, and not be cathartic, at all?

      See, no help at all. Can but offer empathy.

      • L.

        Hmm, I agree with this very much. I actually feel a little shocked at the idea of finishing it, I suppose because it sounds as if it has become a memorial to the babies you have loved and lost; and so it is entirely appropriate that it is unfinished, just like they were. I can all too well imagine the lace on the needles and the feeling of being paused mid-air before impact. The shawl doesn’t make you grieve; it is a symbol of grief. To complete it seems like, perhaps, a way of trying to deny that grief’s existence.

        Maybe you will have or adopt a baby for whom you want to finish the shawl (I fervently hope so), knitting into it your love for the children past as well as present. Maybe a baby will come into your life and your feelings about the others will still be sharp enough that finishing seems wrong. Maybe you’ll meet some other child or person for whom you want to make the shawl. But right now I think it might need to be left be. It is incomplete but not ready to bury, conclude, wrap up, or sell off; just like your quest for a child.

  • alloallo

    like others, it feels like you should finish it. Whether you keep it or bury it or give it away or use it for a baby (which will hopefully come soon) maybe you get to close the chapter on it. And anyways, I’m jealous of your knitting skills.

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