Winding yarn from a cone bought unseen, a mistake from years ago. Silk with some wool for good measure. A color called grass, it feels rough like jeans dried on the line. Tough, ropelike, on my hands. Trying to wind the perfect ball.
Apple-sized ball and the first knot appears. Break the yarn, start again. Almond-sized for the next knot. Once more, clean start, winding the yarn around my fingers then around itself and around the ball it is becoming. Right arm winding like a machine. Mind of its own. Change the axis. Keep the ball even.
Tired of the burden of product, knitting this time for the process. The pattern comes in bits, weekly, and I don't know what it will be. A stole of some kind. I don't pray. Instead of a prayer shawl I knit memories into each stitch. I can't pray. I remember into each stitch things I hope she won't forget.
Thread on bead. Cast on two stitches. The big glass jar of plastic beads we strung on fishing line, trying to make the longest string of all, up the stairs and onto the bathroom, down the hall and into every room. Knit into the front and back of each stitch. Four stitches. Making eggrolls around the kitchen table, plums and apples bubbling on the stove for a homemade duck sauce. Knit the next row. Driving down 133 in the old Singer to the White Lion. Galen throwing a piece of kielbasa with tamari out the window.
Knit one. Place bead. The birthday party after my father left. Me in my Chinese outfit, sick with the throw bug. All adults except for two girls my age. I wanted a cocktail party. Yarn over. A bowl of cheese curls. Place bead. Knit one.
Knit two, purl to last two stitches, knit two. All even rows. The smell of a bathroom frilled with coffee and cigarette smoke. Follow the chart carefully. Kids lining up for her tremendous chocolate chip cookies, no recipe, each the size of a hockey puck. All the teeth lost in those cookies. Keep the first and last two stitches in each wrong-side row in garter stitch.
The dresses she made me. Lines of yarn overs climbing the edges of the stole. Swimming in the waves after hurricanes. Legs raw from the barnacles on the rocks. Place a bead on the center stitch.
Yarn rough on my hands, the melon-sized ball showing no signs of shrinking. Following the chart carefully, trying hard not to get any of the memories wrong.