I took that photo in December 2008. Back then I couldn't contemplate even beginning to make something of all that fine handwork.
When I set to work in March 2011 with hook and yarn I had no sense that it would ever end. Not at all my usual crafting modus operandi. I'm predominantly a pragmatic crafter and I start very much with the end in mind. And while I like a challenge, extending my skills and the occasional show piece I am much more likely to modify a project to make it more achievable than I am to embark on something monumental in the name of perfection.
I've moved through so many stages with this project.
For the first year or so I kept trying to motivate myself to a schedule to try and find some way to just get it done. Like if I did one hex every night I could finish in a year. But I just couldn't sustain it. In reality I'd work fairly consistently for a few weeks before the enormity of the marathon would hit me between the eyes and I'd have to put it away. The progress felt so infinitesimally small that working on it gave me no satisfaction at all.
And then all of a sudden I got to the half way mark and my whole sense of the thing changed. While the end still seemed impossibly far away I knew I was sliding towards it on a downhill slope. Each little hex took me closer the the finish line and left the stack of hexes to be completed a little smaller. That seems like the same thing but somehow it wasn't.
And then so unexpectedly working on the blanket became a consuming focus. An end seemed not only possible, but certain. Like instead of me pushing it forward, it was pulling me in.
Perhaps it's an inevitable stage in all projects, it was just more noticeable on this one because the progress was so slow. The scale itself has lent a certain kind of contemplation usually absent from faster moving work. Why am I doing this? What am I hoping will come from it? How will I judge it upon completion? Can I separate the process of the making from the object that is made?
So now it is made. The process is over and it's just a thing. It's a beautiful thing, a lovely thing. I love it and I'm very happy I kept at it.
But at this time when I'm loitering so close to the end of a life it's hard to find meaning in the things we leave behind, to feel achievement in the completing of things. The artifacts of our lives, the products of our makings, aren't much when weighed up against the process of the making and living.
As I see mum unravelling its becoming harder and harder to understand what complete means. Three months ago I had an idea of what that meant. My perception, her perception, of what a terminal diagnosis meant seemed clear and, in theory at least, it was in many ways a reasonable conclusion to a well lived life. But the robust fabric of her life is shredding before our eyes and what we are are experiencing is anything but reasonable. No amount of skill in making can turn this into anything good.
Some people of have said to me that the time to say the important things, to be together in the knowing that time is short is a blessing, but I have to admit that I am struggling with the way I'm losing her gradually (so quickly, so slowly), even though she's still here. Seeing her so diminished is a much greater sadness than I could have imagined and a daily confrontation with my understanding of who she is and what she means to me.