Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Yarn Lifeline

A dear friend suggested to me that I should be writing about how I am using knitting to deal with the grief of losing my husband.  And at first, I thought, no.  And I responded that nobody wanted to read my moping.  To which he pointed out that I didn't have to mope on my blog.  So I explained that I am a native Minnesotan, which means that my definition of moping is "admitting to feeling a feeling, ever."

But this got me thinking.  I'm not actually that good at writing technical descriptions.  I have the problem of being either too thorough and boring the hell out of everyone, or being too vague and technical and nobody knows what I'm talking about.  I am much better at teaching things in person, where the feedback is immediate and I can adjust my focus on the fly.

But one thing that I actually am good at is emotional honesty.  I have that wonderful habit of actually answering when people ask, "How are you?"  Sometimes people don't really want to know, but I figure if that's the case, then they should have just said hello and left it at that.

So, how am I really?  Well, not great, but incredibly hopeful at times and still reassuringly myself.  It depends on the day and the hour.

And the truth is that I did turn to knitting because of grief.  I turned to knitting because I like it, true, but part of why I love knitting is that it engages my mind in what is right in front of me right now.  Knitting is exactly how I keep from moping all day long.

Knitting is also a great way to control some of my little OCD-like tics.  Like counting.  I actually count a lot.  I find it soothing.  Knitting gives me a reason to count.  Sometimes, I am working on a row that I need to count and I think that I have forgotten to count and then I realize that I actually have been counting all along.  True story.  It's really no wonder that I like math.

And while there are little things about knitting that can remind me of Shervie, it has always been more my thing.  A kind of oasis of me.  I've been realizing that a lot of my identity and daily routine was extremely linked and associated with his.  Some of the hardest things are the simple everyday things, like clearing ice off of my windshield and cooking and brushing my teeth.  Even my last name has become dangerous since getting married. All of these evoke memories of him, some good, some not so good.  Knitting really doesn't.  Especially if I'm working on a new project.

And so I keep working, keep casting-on.  Because it gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning and it feels good to be proficient in something.  Knitting has become my brave face.

And maybe I'm starting to branch out and reclaim a little more.  I recently seem to have discovered that I still like math and physics.  And it turns out that my biggest fear: that I'm really stupid and just relied on him to help make me sound smart, is completely unfounded.  Because I loved these things even before I loved him.

My life right now is like a familiar landscape that has just experienced a massive earthquake.  It is recognizable, but it needs to be mapped again.  Everyday I try to pull out my survey equipment and add another area to the known world.

What am I knitting?  Here is the Chickadee Sweater that I am working on for mom.  I'm really digging making sweaters lately.

And the sleeves are even the same length.


  1. St. Paul. St. Paul is just one big land mine.

  2. perhaps my favorite post. and remember, if you weren't exceptionally smart he wouldn't have put up with you for more than a month. that was his tolerance for stupid. one month max. you passed that line years ago!

    and btw, i just ignore people when they ask how i am - because, like you, i opt for honesty, and trust me, that is not what they are asking for. so i just do the sin of omission thing and change the subject. not even subtly. alternatively, i have burst into tears and that always shuts them up. haha. they won't ask again soon. takes care of the problem in many ways.