But even that wasn’t enough, because the second thing I realized was that I only really had one finished project, besides those gloves, that I was able to actually locate in my drawers—a virulently-colored cap that I hardly ever wear because it is too tight. After the years and years of knitting that I had done, this was all I had to show for it: a pair of gloves I don’t dare take out of the house for fear of losing them, and a hat I don’t like all that much.
Only moderately daunted, I started going through all my old photos from college and from post-college traveling. And, sure enough, although I had never made an active effort to photographically record my knitting progress, by dint of the fact that I wear hats a lot I was able to find quite a few pictures that I could crop down to size and use.
After my initial triumph at having found the pictures, however, I ended up even more depressed than I was before. Although some of these projects were made to practice a new technique when I was just getting started knitting in the round, many of them were hats that I had loved with all my heart and soul, hats that I had worn day-in-day-out, hats that had been my go-to solution when my outfit was blah or my hair was being cantankerous; hats that I could rely on to be waiting faithfully at the bottom of my bag when it was cold. They were hats, in short, that I had a relationship with—and hats that apparently I could not keep in my possession. And it’s not like this was an issue from when I was young and careless; at least two of those hats had been lost in the past four months, presumably abandoned to the cold cruel streets of New York!
But then I remembered wisdom that my favorite jewelry shop owner had given to me once: “Wear your jewelry, and wear it a lot. If it gets broken, stolen, or lost, at least you will have happy memories of the times you wore it and how much pleasure it brought you.”
And so I took a more careful look at those photos, looking not just at the hats themselves, but at the girl who was wearing the hats. And oh, the happy memories those pictures brought back! The hats that became favorites were part of so many experiences. I used one to keep the bees out of my hair while tilling soil on an organic farm in Ireland; a different one while I stomped around the hills of rural Wiltshire with a best-beloved cousin.
Another, less fortunate hat got vomited into on a subway in London when I had the flu, and later (after a thorough wash) kept me warm while I helped my aunt clean out the moldy apples from her cider shed.
I wore the hats while falling in and out of love; I wore the hats while hanging out with my family. I’ve worn them in two different hemispheres, three different continents, in a multitude of different countries. I wore them while Thelma-and-Louiseing with a pair of disgruntled koala bears, and while fulfilling a lifelong dream of holding a wombat.
In short, my hats have been part of a thoroughly enjoyable existence. Looking through my record of lost hats was a visual presentation of all the risks I’m now so glad that I took, and reminded me to be grateful for the life and experiences that I’m lucky enough to have had. And, in the end, if my only legacy is leaving a trail of well-worn, well-loved knitted caps strewn across the face of this planet—well, maybe that’s not such a bad thing, after all.