Eleanor's Yellow Sweater


She came into the library where I worked. At first, we exchanged pleasantries and social trivialities. Then we discovered we were both quilters and the niceties of small talk turned to discussing fabric choices and hand quilting versus machine quilting. From the topic of quilting we branched out to other topics. It was as if we could talk about anything, but more often than not, it was the things that made us laugh that we talked about most.

She would find out when I'd be working so she could bring in her knitting to show me. She was working on the most beautiful yellow cardigan for herself. Probably the first project she ever made for herself - she was the kind to think of everyone else first. After much discussion of button options she decided on brown wooden ones to complement the buttery softness of the yarn. Beautiful.

The last time I saw her, it was a Saturday. She came in the library to use the computer and had problems printing. I helped her. She checked out two books. I asked about the sweater and she said she had put it aside to finish two other sweaters for her nieces for Christmas presents. She left.

The following Friday, Eleanor died.

I don't know why, that in addition to the grief of losing a new friend, I am deeply saddened that her unfinished projects will never be finished. The nieces won't get their sweaters for Christmas and Eleanor will never buy those wooden buttons. Her yarns and needles and the pale yellow sweater parts will be packed away in a box - her husband unable to throw it out, but unable to know what to do with it. Some day, someone will buy the box, which will be marked "miscl sewing," at auction. They won't know what to do with it either.

(                                         )

Let's make a pact with our best quilting friends. Let's make a pact that whoever goes first, the others will finish the last project they are working on. Let's celebrate them as we work on their one last project and laugh over the good times we shared. Let's remember that the best part of quilting - and friendship and life - is not just the finishing, but the journey to get to the finish.

Here's to you Eleanor! I didn't know you for a long time, but the time we had made all the difference.

Note: Some of you may know I have a daughter named Eleanor. This Eleanor is not her.

Comments

  1. What a touching story, Jenifer. I hope she has family members that knit and can finish her projects. Making a pact is a wonderful idea. A couple of days ago, I connected two people. One with an unfinished hand pieced quilt her mother was making for her and the other with the hand piecing and quilting skills to finish it. I'm so happy to bring these two together.

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    1. I hope she has knitting family members, too. We didn't know each other very long and I don't know her family. I can only hope. And what a great story you have, too! Nice to help make something so meaningful happen!

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  2. We have had a few members of our quilt group pass away from illness and they have invited everyone over and have a giveaway and we sit and visit and remember good times we have shared. This is a great idea you have shared. Hugs,

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    1. What a great tradition you have started! I'm sure the husbands are relieved as well - and touched by how loved their wives were. Wonderful!

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  3. My name is Eleanor too, so this story was quite touching for me. I have all these unfinished projects, planned projects with fabric, beads or yarn carefully stored for making. I became very ill at the beginning of 2017 and am now more than ever aware of how short life might be. Thankful for a few more years, I have dedicated 2018 to finishing projects, creating for my family ad enjoying all my days. Thank you for a touching and inspiring post.

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    1. Hi Eleanor! My daughter is also Eleanor! I'm sure your family will be thrilled when you gift them with your creations - sspecially if you give them to them yourself! Good luck with the finishing. It's hard to not start something new!

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    2. How moving - your beautiful writing about Eleanor brought tears to my eyes. Have you thought about submitting this to your local paper? You may really touch someone - a close family member or friend. Thank you, especially the part about making a pact with our close quilting friends and family to finish their work and keep their memory and works alive.

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    3. Awww, you're so sweet! Thanks for your kind words. Unfortunately we no longer have a local paper in my town, but that would be a good idea if we did! Cheers!

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  4. beautiful, so sad. Thank you for the disclaimer about your daughter, I nearly choked while reading this. Love the idea of finishing someone's last project for them. I inherited several of my grandmother's works-in-progress. I finished the one she was making for my grandfather, and he got to enjoy it. Now I'm working on one she started for my aunt- but it's all needle turn applique, so very slow going for me.

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    1. Thank you, Emily! I'm so glad you were touched by Eleanor's story. I also inherited an unfinished quilt from my grandmother, but I'm afraid I am not the quilter to finish it. My grandma never did anything easy and her UFO is a 1" hexagon Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern! Way beyond my skills! I'm glad you are able to finish your peoples' projects!

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