Knitting hibernation

There is something incredibly decadent and satisfying about canceling everything on your to-do list, sitting at home and knitting with fabulous yarn.

I knit as active meditation, and as exercise for my hands (blasted early-onset arthritis), so I have never bothered to try and develop speed. This has been really problematic only during the three month Christmas present sprint I tend to do each year. Otherwise, the slow rhythm of knitting is exceptionally comforting to me.

After such a tumultuous week, it was heaven to sit down with a skein of decadent yarn and whip out a cowl. I am ball-winding challenged, and ended up with my hank in quite the gordian knot, but once I got all untangled, I was good to go.

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This is out of the Lorna’s delightful hand-dyed yarns in Vera, working into the crazy quick Garland Cowl. I edited out some rows, due to concerns about the amount of yarn I actually had. Since I’m a tight knitter, I also upgraded to size 13 needles. I wanted it to be a bit airy.

It traveled with me a bit, as you can see from game night in the background. It also was able to field trip to my favorite craft brewery, where I was able to catch up with a friend as I sewed in the ends.

This week, it’s been terribly cold. Not polar vortex cold (only due to lack of wind, though), and such extremes takes a toll on my mood. Although it desperately needs to be blocked, I decided to wear my new accessory anyway. The pink brightens the day, and it made me happy to wear such a lovely, happy piece of my own work.

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Unexpected Endings

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One week ago, I learned that my former father-in-law passed away.

For eleven years, he had been a part of my life. He was the one member of my ex-husband’s family who never judged, never spoke a harsh word. When I left, he quietly kept in contact, including me on his email list of jokes (of which there were many). He made a point of reaching out to me occasionally, to let me know he still cared – that I was still family to him.

He had grown up Jewish, and married outside his faith. While the family celebrated several of the holidays, I felt very strongly that any children I might have should know their heritage, and so I threw myself into learning about the faith of my husband’s ancestors. It bonded my father-in-law and I – we never discussed it, but I felt like it made him happy to have this part of his family honored. For eleven years, I lit Hannukah candles with my father-in-law in mind. I stumbled over transliterated Hebrew, and boiled eggs for the Seder plate. I grew to deeply love the ceremony and the history of the religion. Even after leaving, I cast bread into the river near work for Rosh Hashana, and I thought of him, and his family, and the beautiful legacy that he was trying to pass on to his son, and the children we never had.

He built things that helped us see the stars. He built things that helped us see the earth. He told amazing stories, such as the time he and his college buddies changed the Hollywood sign without touching it, and rewired traffic lights, and all sorts of shenanigans that imaginative engineering students get into. He was vibrant, and brilliant, and hilarious, and so very kind. He rescued cats, and supported the library and tried very hard to burn bratwurst because he knew that’s how I liked them from the grill (even though he was incapable of burning things).

Three weeks ago, my divorce was finalized, and I started a new beginning. I left behind the last name that, for a while, I shared with this amazing man. With the stamp of the notary, this man was legally no longer related to me. Today, while we always say we’re not divorcing that family, I feel that I have little claim over this grief that I am experiencing. There is a hole in my life, and I feel like it is not mine to have. In my new role of ex-daughter-in-law, I have no idea how to grieve. I want to craft a memorial for him that exemplifies the man he was, but I have no right to that any longer.

So instead, I’ll say the mourner’s kaddish for him. Because I know his son, my ex-husband, will not. Because he deserves it. Because he would appreciate it, butchered Hebrew and all.

Starting Over

I knit. I hesitate to say that I’m a knitter, because that makes it sound like I create amazing fiber things in a timely manner. My knitting is slow, contemplative. It’s an active meditation. It’s a way of surrounding myself with a fiber hug and a lap of cats when nothing else will do.

In knitting, sometimes, when you have a project that is just terrible. You hate the pattern, or the yarn isn’t right or any other numbers of things aren’t lining up, you have no choice but to pull the piece apart, so that you can start over. This is called “frogging.”

Two years ago, after much deliberation, I decided that the fabric of my life was not right. The yarn wasn’t working for me, so to speak, and I hated the pattern that I had forced myself into. So I pulled it apart. To the basic elements of me.

I spent the first year wallowing. Making no-so-awesome choices. Thinking. And knitting. I spent the second year trying to identify who I was, and who I wanted to be.

This year, I’m starting to find my way back. I’m ready to get the yarn of myself back on the needles, and I’m ready to choose a new pattern for my life.