The act of knitting has become so comforting to me that I've taken to carrying a project with me at all times, "just in case" I might suddenly find myself faced with an opportunity to knit.
It's how I've come to knit hats and scarves, work on baby sweaters, and knit up countless squares for an afghan that may never be finished, simply because knitting the squares is too much fun. It's also how I've managed to almost complete a sweater that kick-started me towards being a Knitter.
This one sweater has been everything to me so far that one could want in a knitting project. It has been inspiring, daunting, a challenge, and a teacher.
It has also been a pain in the ass.
But I know when I finish it in the next week or so, that it will also be a triumph.
Most non-knitters don't get what most knitters do: there is something almost magical in the act of creating something from nothing, merely from string. I know that I definitely find the act of this enchanting.
(My husband will tell you that the amount of yarn and fibre that has accumulated in our tiny house over the last two years is further evidence that I've been bewitched).
I always know when I'm stressed out.
Schedules at our house are generally intense. It's a constant negotiation on who is working late vs. who has drop off or pick up duty of our son vs. who has a "night off". Recently overheard: "I'll trade you a stitch and bitch (a gaggle of knitters getting together socially while knitting) for that insane project you worked on where you didn't come home until 7 in the morning."
A feeling starts to creep up on me. Tension inching up my back, throbbing in my temples, and snarking in my voice.
Inevitably when this happens, it can be one of two things.
Either I'm getting a migraine, or, I haven't been knitting enough.
It could be something completely nonsensical, just random stitches. But the minute I'm inserting a needle into the fabric and wrapping the yarn around it before pulling it back through, I start to unwind.
A project doesn't always start out with such zen-like bliss. Like my current and almost-finished project.
Without question it will be beautiful, and make me feel beautiful and accomplished for having created this wonderful garment (I beam already in daydreams where my knitting prowess is admired, and the sweater isn't even finished yet!). I will also remember how it helped me relax, in spite of causing its own tension.
Because you see, as much as I might like to fantasize about people admiring this sweater, "Oh my God, you knit that? That must have driven you crazy!" while I look away and modestly demur, "Really, it was nothing once I got the hang of the pattern repeat," - they won't know how freakin' bored I was in the middle of it, despairing of all those pattern repeats and letting the project languish on the needles over the cold, winter months. Or how I agonized over the sizing at the end and whether or not the finished project would be too big for me ("Well, nothing I can do now, I'm not about to rip it out and start over at this point!"). Or how the air turned blue around me when I started the project, using a new technique that I'd never done before, and then learning that there was a correction to the pattern in the second line...oops.
Which, okay, I'll admit, doesn't sound all that relaxing.
The method to this madness, for me, lies in the fact that, certainly with this particular project, that it's been complicated enough to require my attention. My mind can't wander too far, and I can't concentrate on much beyond the knitting and some good conversation. When that's all my brain has room for, suddenly I'm very relaxed!
I wonder what I'm in the mood to work on next?