Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Knitting


I don't talk a lot here on my blog about my knitting. There are many blogs that are primarily knitting blogs and I enjoy dropping in at their places from time to time. Obviously, Golightly Place has a wider spectrum, but when I think about it, I probably have not said enough about my knitting.

Knitting, for knitters, I know can mean many different things. For some, it is an enjoyable hobby. For some it is an addiction! Or perhaps it is the yarn that is an addiction, because, let me tell you, there is a lot of money being made and lost in the realm of yarn in all its varieties. For me, though, it is more than a hobby, but I wouldn't call it an addiction. Perhaps I simply do not have enough money to have a large stash, but I never have been one to buy things just to have them; I usually need to have a purpose - in this case a project - in mind before I make a purchase. No, for me, knitting is solace, meditation, comfort, peace.

Yesterday I had, shall we say, a moody day. Hormones in overdrive, it didn't take much to make my eyes well up. I needed my knitting. I thought about my knitting as I went about necessary tasks, Just this and this left to do, and then I can get to my knitting. Finally, there was one thing that put me over the top and I just had to set out to get. it. Sitting down in my glider (oh, yes, I know the picture of the granny in the rocker and I embrace it fully!) I began to breathe deeply. My husband sensed my tension and came over and said gently, "Is something wrong, honey?" "Yes," I whispered, not wanting to blow, "but I can't talk to you about it right now... I just need a little bit of time to knit." The thing that had happened had hurt my feelings and I was afraid that this being that particular time of the month, that maybe, just maybe I would over-react. But I knew the knitting could calm me down if I could just look at it and concentrate on it for even just five minutes. A thought would come to my head that would make me want to cry and, like seated meditation practice, I could bring my thoughts back to the present where they belonged - not five minutes ago when a word stung - and replay it over and over... and over again which is what my brain reeeeeallly likes to do. Just purl and purl and purl. Knit one, yarn over, knit two together, knit one, yarn over, knit two together. The rhythm began to work its magic. And yes, in five minutes I really was fine.

I know that knitting cannot solve all of my problems, but it has become a fine form of meditation, and therefore stress-relief, when other things have not helped as much. I have practiced seated meditation and enjoy it, but it is not portable like my knitting is. That doesn't sound logical, I know. But whereas some people do look a little longer than normal if I pull out my knitting while waiting for our seats in a restaurant, they would look a bit more askance if I crossed my legs in lotus position, closed my eyes and began focused breathing.


I had wanted to knit for a long time. My mother did teach me one time, the basic knit stitch, but I knew nothing beyond that, and somehow was too preoccupied with other things to devote myself to really learning. I do know that I thought it was likely too hard to learn on my own (it wasn't) and I knew that I didn't have enough money to take the classes I thought I needed. I remember, though, walking into Depth of Field Yarn on the West Bank in Minneapolis, years ago and being just gaga for the colors and textures and just insanely jealous that I couldn't do that. Not too long after that I remember reading a painful article in a magazine about a woman whose daughter had died from cancer at 6 years old and how knitting was her solace that was getting her through, day by day, one stitch by one stitch, at a time. I remember thinking that this was an incredible thing. I also remember believing her.

Fast forward to four years ago when I began to really teach myself how to knit. Still didn't have money, but I did have Melanie Falick's book, Kids Knitting. Really, I reasoned, if children can knit, and create these cute projects, how hard could it really be? And so, I began. It was around this same time that I had an anxiety attack. I think I've mentioned this somewhere around here before and its too long a story to share at this point, but I do wish, now, that I would have been far along enough into my knitting to realize the effects it would have upon me. Because I have now "used" my knitting when I have needed it.


When I went for my very first mammogram and they called me in the next day because they needed more pictures, "a better look," they said, the knitting was there with me in the waiting room and in the hall outside the radiologist's office as he looked at the slides and my children played in the chairs next to me. I didn't want to frighten them. When the nurse came and told me everything was just fine I absolutely melted and sobbed with relief. "Wow," she said, " I didn't even know you were scared..."

Plane rides, too - a necessary evil in my book - have been more manageable with my knitting in my lap and my iPod in my ears.

Today, I enjoy a long car ride more or even waiting for an oil change all because I have my knitting. Sometimes it is mindless knitting while watching t.v. and sometimes it is very focused, challenging knitting when I am trying to learn a new pattern or pay attention to lace. Sometimes I am thinking about and praying for the recipient and sometimes I am just praying that it will fit. Sometimes I am angry with my knitting, but then there is the conquering feeling of success that comes with figuring out - like a puzzle - a challenging pattern. I like knowing that a charity blanket may be bringing comfort to a child in some far off place. Or that my own child will remember the time spent and the handmade things that her mother made for her. The colors and the feel of the fibers in my hands. All these things add up to a most rewarding experience.


So, my knitting. Something so small and yet so very large. Comfort given to both the giver and the receiver. Could it bring world peace? Some think it could. If mankind put down its weapons and began making a scarf or a hat for its neighbor, it makes you wonder... For me, though, yes, knitting is peace. I'm thankful to have found it.
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