The Beekeeper’s Quilt – A Labor of Self-Care

In December of 2018 my marriage, like so many others, ended in a very painful fashion. After 32 years I was adrift and unsure where my life was headed. I was facing an uncertain financial status, and the challenge of self-sufficiency. About that time I began work on my most ambitious knitting project to date – The Beekeeper’s Quilt. Its progression and mine became deeply intertwined. https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-beekeepers-quilt Those familiar with this pattern know it takes time. So does healing, stitch by stitch. It seemed the perfect project for my fragile state. So I purchased a few skeins of fingering weight yarn in yummy hand-dyed merino and began.

The Queen Bees

As I completed a few hexipuffs, I began to embellish some with queen bees because they felt empowering. My husband and I filed a separation agreement, and put the house up for sale. I needed a plan to move forward. The pile of hexipuffs began to grow.

Multiple Hexipuffs

I would lay them out in various arrangements, trying to find a pattern that felt right. I work in horticulture and I began to see flowers emerging, perhaps because my mind trends in that direction. It felt right. I began to look for a little house of my own with enough land for gardens.

The garden of hexipuffs grew.

And grew…

But then problems emerged. I could not find the right house, and the way I was grouping the flowers was not leaving a defined edge. I began to fear disorder and instability. I needed to widen my search, and open my mind. At last I found a little house on a bit of land in Chapel Hill. It was small, neat, well restored, and affordable. I fell in love with it, and when I moved in, the blanket pattern began to coalesce. I studied the various patterns around me: china, fabric, rugs. The challenge was spacing so that I could get a repeating edge pattern. A rug provided the guide I needed.

The flowers did not need to be jammed right up against each other, they needed space, light, separation – just like I did. With the right spacing a diamond pattern began to form. I chose natural, un-dyed wool to fill the gaps and bring in the light. Outside, my real garden began to grow. My dearest friends showed up one Saturday with plants from their gardens. They helped me form beds, haul beautiful, rich soil, and plant their plants and mine. The garden now had paeonies, iris, hostas, ferns, heucheras, alstroemerias, colocasias, columbines, viburnums, sarcococca, and a fig tree. As the season wore on, I added a large vegetable garden and a compost bin. Fall brought a ginkgo, a persimmon, and 2 peach trees. Change was happening, and as my garden grew, so did my strength and my confidence. And I kept knitting. Lucy Lou, the knittin’ kitten, tried to help.

I now had over 800 hexipuffs and the end was in sight, but I knew it would take more than the year I had estimated. I needed about 400 more hexipuffs. Don’t ask me how much I spent on yarn. I cannot resist the yummy multi-colored yarns from Miss Bab’s, LaJolla, Malabrigo, Hedgehog Fibres, and the many locally dyed yarns I picked up in my travels. I found some lovely yarns on Knit Picks, too. Chalk it up to therapy. I took money from my food budget when necessary. It was worth it. As the pile of hexipuffs neared completion, and I began to piece together diamond-shaped segments, my mind sharpened, my strength increased, and I began to find joy again. Things literally fell into place in the blanket and in my life. I became self-sufficient. I could do this! I joined a local knitting group, moved my parents in with me so I could care for them as they aged, and I began to venture out more. I was becoming one, becoming whole, healing. Of course there were setbacks, but on the whole I was progressing nicely and so was the blanket.

It’s not finished yet, and neither am I. We are both a work in progress. I will post a finished photo when the blanket is done, but it could be a while…