Dad’s Hat – The Healing Wonders of Fiber & Writing

This is my first blog post in quite some time.  I think as you read it, you’ll have a better understanding of why that is… I’m ready, though.  Ready to get back to writing, ready to get back to the things that are important to me.  Ready to talk sheep, fiber, life, and everything that goes along with them… I hope you’re ready too and hope you’ll come back along on the journey with me!  Here we go… onto things that matter!  Thanks for being patient, and thanks for being here!

As some of you remember from the 52 Weeks of Sheep Facebook post last week, I promised to write about my “special fiber” from the week of Spinzilla and Spinner’s Choice.  I’ll warn everyone now, this is an extremely emotional post for me, but I believe I needed to spin the fiber and write about it as I continue to heal.  For the new members here, I lost my dad on August 24th after his long and valiant battle with lung and brain cancer and this is the story of “Dad’s Hat.”

I picked this fiber, originally, because with my dad’s treatments, he was continuously cold.  For winter in Montana, I wanted him to have something warm, and something handmade.  It was supposed to be his Christmas present… in my mind, I just always thought he would be here for at least one more Christmas… he’s not.

On the day we found out that my dad had less than a week to live, he and I had one of the last conversations we would have while he was “with it.”  We had started a list last year when he was diagnosed of all the things we were going to do together, and things we wanted to do someday, either together or on our own.  Somehow, I knew those someday things wouldn’t happen after his cancer returned in January – not because we didn’t want them to, but because I saw how tired he was.  I’ll admit, I’d been in denial – I mean no daughter wants to lose her father – for most of us, I think we see them as our very own superheroes, so when I was hit with the news that day that he wouldn’t be with me much longer, I crashed, I screamed, I cried, but also that day, when I was with him, we just talked.  I won’t get into all the details of that conversation – just know that I’m beyond grateful for it.

Back to our lists… one of the things on my list was to hand spin this beautiful silver-grey alpaca fiber, mixed with a little wool from one of my favorite sheep, Pinky, and then knit my dad this hat that would help to keep him warm this winter and give it to him at Christmas.  So during that last conversation, he spoke of how we didn’t get to go on our fishing trip that we’d planned, and I told him that I was sorry I never finished his hat, but if it was okay with him, I would still spin the fiber and knit a hat, only I would wear it, and each time I did, I would remember him and know he was right there with me.  He smiled – and that was all that I needed.

Since my dad’s death, I hadn’t really wanted to spin.  To be completely honest, I hadn’t really wanted to do much of anything – but this, the fiber, the hat, the lessons, they were important.  I knew I would spin it during Spinzilla, but I also knew I needed to save it for the last spin – probably subconsciously because I knew it would be an “emotional spin.”

I picked up the fiber, and I put it down as the tears welled up.  I looked at my list.  I remember the promise I made to my dad, and I picked the fiber up again.  I prepped the wheel, put the first empty bobbin on, and I began to spin.  The tears continued to fall as I filled the bobbin and loaded the second.  The memories flooded my mind of all the happy times, of the best decision I made earlier in the year to quit my job, move, and spend all the time I could with my dad.  We’d already lost so much time.  I remembered our road trips, the lessons I learned from him, and his final lucid words to me… “Live life to the fullest, and don’t be afraid.”  I remembered his smile, the lives he touched, the difference he made.  Once the bobbins were full, I plied them together, and as I plied, the tears weren’t as frequent, the smiles were more, and the memories, I realized are the most precious things I have of my dad now, and I treasure them.  My lesson in it all… don’t wait.  Don’t wait to get things done.  Don’t wait for a special holiday to give someone the gift – just do it now.  Part of me still wishes my dad could have worn this hat personally, but I do know, down deep inside, he’s going to be wearing it with me.

Below are pictures of the yarn and today, I’ve begun knitting “Dad’s Hat”… it’s getting colder here in Montana.  We had snow this past weekend and we’re sure to have more soon.  I’ll be prepared.  I’ll be warm. And with or without the hat, he’’ll always be with me.

I would love to hear about any “special fiber” or projects you’ve been working on too!  Please feel free to comment below or post some of your own stories on the page too.  Fiber connects us and our stories are important – so make sure to tell them!

Until next time – find happiness in all that you do!



One Comment on “Dad’s Hat – The Healing Wonders of Fiber & Writing

  1. Beautifully written Tammy and yes my cheeks are now wet. My heart feels your emotion and your grief and although I miss you terribly, I’m so thankful you were able to spend the last months with your dad the way you did. Thank you for sharing.

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