Let’s face it, there is not much that keeps me from knitting. In fact, knitting for me is not only the ends but the means (for procrastinating on doing pretty much anything else). What inspires you to knit? Do you see a gorgeous yarn and think “I have to find something to knit with that!” Or are you a project oriented knitter: you see something on Ravelry or in a store and think “I have got to make that!” and then you go out to find the perfect yarn.
I tend to straddle both worlds, although if I had to pick one, I would pick yarn first, project later. But how do you know how much yarn to buy, you ask? Well, you just have to think in terms of what kind of project would suit that yarn and then estimate the amount you think you may need, always remembering to overestimate so you don’t run out. And that is why my entire third floor is filled with bins and bins of yarn. But I digress…
And the yarn you fall in love with can dictate the type of project project and vice versa. We always say there are two general directions in which to proceed: buy a gorgeous yarn and do something simple so that the yarn does all the talking. Or, do a complicated project with plain (not to say inferior quality, just not multi-colored or novelty) yarn and show off your knitting skizzles. I personally love colorwork and cables (although not together, obviously) so I save my love of flamboyant, variegated yarn for socks mostly. Wearing flamboyant socks is sort of like wearing super sexy lingerie: generally (I say generally because you may have a racier lifestyle than mine, but then again, most people do) only a couple of people might know what your wearing but it makes you feel all sort of tingly knowing that you are.
My most recent encounter with yarn-versus-project came up project. I walked in to the store one day and saw Pam’s Exploration Station by Stephen West and it was love at first sight. Even though I’m not a shawl person per se, I loved the use of short rows and different stitch patterns. So naturally I immediately searched out the right yarn (Anzula plus Koigu), dutifully ignoring the bins of yarn at home as well as the 20 some-odd projects already on needles. And the truth is, that when I am project driven I am very focused on finishing said project. When I am yarn driven, the yarn gets put away and may languish for a while (read: months, years, decades). However, I did just use up 22 skeins of Rowan Felted Tweed Aran (for my Rowe sweater) that I bought when Knitting Central was closing so I can pat myself on the back for that.
And yarn driven or project driven, it’s all knitting in the end. And that’s what matters.
I usually like to make these posts amusing or at least witty (let me live with my illusions) but for the purposes of this post I am taking a more serious tone.
For most of the past year my mother’s health has been failing. For those of you who have had an aging parent or a sickly relative you know that this can mean a lot of quiet time sitting by bedsides or in nursing home parlors or gardens. I found that my mother liked to sit in the courtyard garden in the sun, dozing or reminiscing. During these times I would take my knitting out, usually a project that did not require too much thinking so that I could respond easily. My mother used to love to watch me knit. Not a knitter herself, she would always marvel at the fact that my sister and I had taken it up with such passion. She loved it when I was knitting my “Trains, Planes and Automobiles” with Kid Silk Haze. She would reach over and stroke it as though it was a pet animal, marveling at its softness.
In the last year I had also knit a large cashmere shawl, originally for myself (I am at heart a selfish knitter) which I ended up giving to my mother. When her final day came, my sister and I lay the shawl over her so that I could feel that she was wrapped in love as she readied herself for her final journey. When she passed away I gave the shawl to my sister. I felt that it was my way of remembering our mother and passing along my knitted love to her.
Many things have been written of late about the benefits of knitting, both mental and physical. But to me, these past few months have really shown me the emotional benefits of knitting. All knitters knows the story of Madame DeFarge knitting her accusations into her work. For me, I feel that my knitting has helped absorb my thoughts and fears, love and, most recently, tears. It has comforted me in this past year, always there to take my mind off other things. I could reach for it when I couldn’t sleep or just needed something to do with my hands. It has been my comfort. It has been my solace.
So the next time you find yourself in a difficult emotional situation remember your knitting. It can truly be a friend in need.
Julie, WY's Do-bee and store wordsmith.