Thursday, December 10, 2009


I've unfortunately discovered that a swift and utter retreat is sometimes necessary in order to survive a vicious attack from the whims of fate. This blog, sadly, has been a casualty of my retreat.

My mother died about four months ago. She only lived two months after her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. As many, many of you know from your own personal experiences, these last four months have been difficult in ways that I cannot even begin to describe here.

However, when I consider my knitting, the small particulars of this one aspect of my life seem to reflect and illustrate the larger whole. The impact on my knitting is but a microcosm of the larger system that is, quite frankly, still very much in chaos.

About a month after my mother's death, I experienced a sudden and intense desire to devest myself from all worldly fiber possessions. I gave away at least 80% of my stash. Some perspective: this is a simple, modest amount of yarn but enough to make for a successful Yarn Give Away Party. It was a comforting and social exercise - it felt wonderful to bring pleasure to my friends and to be philosophical about possessions and life. I have absolutely no remorse and I love my closet space.

Around this same time, I ambitiously began gratitude scarves for the Oncology nurse and doctor who administered to my mother. The simple man's scarf for the doctor is finished. The delicate, lace scarf for the nurse is still awaiting the final trim. Whenever I pick it up, I feel sick to my stomach.

After a few weeks, I began to hate that lace scarf. It morphed from a "thank you from the deepest part of my being" scarf to an "every stitch of this pisses me off" scarf. I would hang my project bag around the house hoping to find the one place that would inspire me to work on it. Instead I felt stalked. I now loathe that scarf and cannot in good conscience give it away to the dear woman who helped my mother. It would be such bad juju. I simply continue to detest it. It now reminds me of failed chemo and failed surgery. Frustration and impotency.

Humbled by the hatred of the scarf, I thought I would begin a fun, simple sock project with no deadline, no pressure, and no guilt. The first sock flew by. I can do this, I thought. I felt comforted by the activity and by the successful feeling of one finished sock on my foot.

But then disinterest and apathy arrived on the scene. Big time. It began with an escape trip to the US Virgin Islands. I intended to relax with my family and have plenty of time to knit - to get the mojo back. I had never been to the tropics (in fact, most of our trips are to Northern climes where knitting is a natural past time).

Let me share what I learned: one cannot knit a wool sock when temperatures approach the 90's. It was hot. It was humid. The knitting languished. Even now at home, I'm afraid the classical conditioning is complete. I have absolutely no desire to pick up and knit that sock. I have turned the heel, this is the home stretch, but I couldn't care less. Absolute and utter disinterest.

Baby hats, more scarves, wraps, Christmas ornaments - the litter of unfinished projects trails behind me for three solid months. Maybe a new pattern book? A snappy blog post? Some new equipment? Yarn? Nope, nothing inspires.

One thing is certain, everything changes. So will this. But when? How? Those things that I relied upon, that grounded me, were transient. Impermanent. Fleeting. When the ground itself is too unstable to find footing, it's impossible to knit a sock.