A Knit of a Lifetime
He then asked if I minded working on my living room throw for two or three months at a time. I told him that I enjoyed it and liked every minute I worked on it....if it took me a shorter time to knit it, it'd be even better because I'd be able to enjoy it sooner. I tried to explain to him how much I liked the alpaca yarn I was working with and, if I had more free time, I'd knit on it more. He asked if I would mind working on this project for my entire life. "Well", I said, "I think I'd become bored with it sooner or later and might be resentful of it after years and years of knitting on it."
So, this man started to tell me how these prisoners are only able to work on their knitting projects during the day and at night, they had to give them to the guards...needles and all. He said, "Their projects are like their children. They hate to give them up to the guards and can't wait to get them back the next day." The reason it is so important to them is because they are only allowed to work on their one knitting project for the rest of the time they are in prison...in other words, for the rest of their lives. They try to make each knitting day go by slowly and savor each and every stitch. They put not only their heart, but their almost literal souls into their knitting project. For, once it is their time to die, this knitting BECOMES the legacy of who they were. Every movement, every breath, every moment becomes transferred into this priceless project of themselves. If the project is not finished when they die, another member of their family finishes it for them. The finished project is placed in the home of the prisoner's family and is then regarded as the person themselves.
I can barely put into words how this man's story affected me. It was like a window opened up and showed me a view of the world that I could never quite see before. It made me feel incredibly happy and profoundly sad at the same time. All I could think of were the poor people who were wrongly imprisoned and how their small knitting project was the focus and then the symbol of their entire life.
I feel as if I've taken my own knitting and life for granted and how lucky I am for all that I have. For the variety and freedom to knit and live as I choose, for any amount of time I choose, for whomever I choose. May we all remember those who are not as lucky as we are.
Knitting Blessings to all and especially to the man who shared this story with me.