Thursday, January 01, 2009

My Newest Happiness

A long, long time ago, I used to knit. Like about 35 years ago. But I really didn't enjoy it, and it wasn't long before I moved on to more interesting things (easy enough to do when you're 20).

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in the U of M Hospital waiting room next to a woman who was knitting. She was working on a scarf as a Christmas present, and she knitted away as we talked.

For some reason, I just couldn't concentrate on our conversation. Not that she wasn't interesting (she was) - but I just kept looking at her growing length of scarf. I finally apologized to her for staring at her fingers as they zipped through row after row - the woman probably thought I was nuts for staring, but it just was entrancing.

In the back of my mind, I heard this tiny voice mutter over and over. It said, "You could do that." Well, yes, I guess I could, but I reminded myself that knitting just wasn't in my game plan right now.

That same little voice has been bugging me ever since. My Mom was an expert knitter, made sweaters and afghans for all her children and several relatives. For some goofy reason I kept her favorite knitting needles set after she died. I had no intention of knitting, but I just couldn't give away her favorite needles. Guess I remembered all those times when I enjoyed visiting with her as she knit, knit, knit . . . .

She was a hoarder, and the twenty huge garbage bags of brand new yarn she was eventually going to get around to knitting someday just couldn't go home with me (remember, I don't knit) after she died, so I donated them to a local knitters' group that makes afghans for hospital patients. That was in 2003.

Her needles have been tucked away these past years, patiently waiting. Until last week, when that little voice finally wore me down. I bought yarn. I got the needles out. I putzed around for an hour trying to remember how to cast-on my beginning stitches, and then suddenly it all came back after all those years - and I was actually knitting!

I'm only doing simple stuff right now. I'm the Garter-stitch Queen. But doing a mindless pattern of knit one row, knit next row gives me pleasure - I can feel the fuzzy soft warmth of my yarn slipping over my fingers. It makes me completely forget the bad stuff that's happening in my life right now, and allows my brain the downtime it needs.

My first knitting-victim is my Mother-in-law. What started out as a simple scarf is now a thick, cushy stole - I made it a bit wider by accident, but it will keep her warm and cozy. That's me wearing it above. My Mother-in-law will be swamped in this scarf-stole, since she's only 4"10", but she'll wear it knowing it was made with love.

Knitting brings me peace, while at the same time gives me a sense of accomplishment. I can enjoy some gab-time with Tom, and at the same time be making something useful. My cats love to see me knit, as they quickly jockey for position in my lap before I fill it with yarn. They fall asleep, curled under my project, happy and purring. They can't get into my lap when I'm on the computer, since there's no room between my lap and the desk. That really ticks them off. But they watch me anytime I get near my knitting needles, hoping to be the first to claim my lap. Streak usually wins.

It's a feel-good thing - the sense of accomplishment in making something, the cats-in-the-lap, the relaxing conversation with Tom - and I am SO glad I started knitting again.

And that little voice? That was my Mom, and she was right (as usual) - I can knit again. Again she's reminded me not to ignore the little voices, because there's a reason for them. Thanks, Mom.


Jonara Blu Maui said...

Oh that is a gorgeous scarf! I love the colors! I want to learn to knit..what size needles do I need? I used to crochet..thats what I learned from my grandma...sat on her lap while she made afgan after afgan. But I like how knitting stitches are closer together.

beth pulsipher said...

I started out with a really easy pattern - garter stitch is just knitting row after row, no purl at all. I used worsted weight yarn, doubled (pulling from two skeins simultaneously) and size 13 needles. That made a really thick, luxurious scarf, really warm and cozy. i used to crochet too, but for now, I like knitting better. The yarn came from Walmart, and 2 skeins cost less than $10.

Tina Cowan said...

What a wonderful story! so warm and so sweet.

jill said...

That IS a gorgeous scarf! Isn't knitting the best way to fill idle time? I just picked it up again in earnest this last year. I've graduated from scarves to hats and I'm almost done with Sally Melville's Einstein Jacket (I ran out of my now discontinued yarn so that's on hold til I figure out that dilemma :) Looking forward to seeing more of your creations!

beth pulsipher said...

Hi Jill -

I've finished four scarves in the past week, and have several more to go - my family and friends are all my knitting victims! Will soon be thinking hats too :)