Sunday, February 21, 2010

Valentine’s Day Blues Shawl

Or how I fought off the it’s  Valentine’s Day, I’m all alone again blues…

So, my sweetie was in New York on a business trip and I was all alone on Valentine’s Day this year. I decided that instead of feeling bad I was going to do something new and fun and for myself. Thus was born the following project.

I have never made a shawl before, being intimidated by the triangular shape, lace and many other daunting looking things that make up a shawl. I had been looking for years for just the right pattern to try out and on that February 13th, found the one I wanted to try. It is a simple triangle shape with no lace and no complicated pattern repeats. It’s a shawlette (meaning a small shawl) and I had some yarn I thought would look good in the pattern. I had the needles and so thought what the heck.

The pattern is called Boneyard and I found it here. Looked simple and can be made in pretty much any type of yarn with a simple needle size adjustment.  So, on the evening of February 13, 2010 I cast on the first 5 stitches.

Here was my progress by the end of Valentine’s Day:

Shawl day 3

I made good progress and it was a good distraction from feeling lonely on that day.

I kept it up, worked on it in my spare time at night after work. I still wasn’t sure what I was really doing with the triangle shape and about two more repeats I figured out I was knitting it top down! Now I got it! It made sense to me at last. The fancy borders that have made me drool but have stopped me cold from trying those lacy shawls are done last!

So I kept going, being encouraged and urged on by my knitting friends and compadres on Plurk. Then Friday I hit a wall of depression. I hadn’t hit this kind of depression in years, the kind where you are afraid to say anything because they may make you go “see someone”. I haven’t felt so alone in a very long time. This is the kind of depression that is robbing me of sleep and the ability to eat. The one person I needed the most was completely out of reach with no way to ask for help and support. This is the kind of depression that I worry about because it is paralyzing.

But sitting on the couch next to me, buried under the box of Kleenex was my knitting. My shawl that I had been diligently working on all week. I really didn’t feel like doing it but I picked it up. Might as well do something other than stare at the TV, the computer screen and weep.

As I began to settle into the rhythm of the needles clicking and the yarn slipping through my fingers, I began to feel a small bit of peace. I felt my breathing slow down and my heart beat become regular. My mind was able to relax and focus on the patterns and colors that were emerging as I knit. I thought about my mother and how it comforted me to see her knit and now knew why. I’m sure she got the same sense of peace that I do. Mom’s birthday is coming up this week and I still miss her so much. Knitting connects me to her, I can feel her hands on my shoulders as I learn new things.

So I threw myself into this shawl and knit until late in the evening. I had one eye on the Olympics and the computer and one eye on the needles. I made significant progress and thought to myself, I can finish this tomorrow if I work on it all day.

Sleep was fitful and I found myself up and checking the phone at 4:50 am. Still no messages. I got up thinking how am I going to get through another day. I was out of coffee so I fed the cat, made some instant and settled down to knit. Finally heard from the sweetie only to hear that I wouldn’t be hearing his voice for awhile longer. I walked up to the store, got some real coffee, bagels and of course, cat food.

Then I sat down with my fresh coffee, and began to knit. I knit through out the morning and got to the point where it was time to bind off. I decided to try something else new and looked up the picot bind off technique. I thought what the heck, and started to bind off using this new technique. Turns out it was easy and by lunch time, I was half way through. I should have counted the final stitches to see how many there actually were.

After lunch I kept going and low and behold, I finished it! I actually felt excited and had to post to my Plurk friends that I finally completed it! Of course, I took pictures and posted those too.

So, the depression is still here and still pretty crippling. Don’t know how I’m going to do work tomorrow, but I suppose I will. One minute at a time as they say.

But the whole point of this is that I have one tool in my basket. My knitting; just some yarn and a couple of sticks. It let me be inside my skin while taking me away to a calmer place. To a place where it didn’t matter what I look like, whether I do or say the right things, whether I am a good person or worth the time. It was just about the work, just about the process of yarning over and slipping the stitches from one needle to the next and watching the yarn turn into something beautiful and useful. It doesn’t matter that at the moment I feel like I am neither…

shawl full

pico edging 2

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Spark

A friend asked me today if I have been writing lately. I had to say no, I really haven’t and when asked why, had to take a good look at that question.

Why haven’t I been writing? It used to flow from my fingers with ease and not a lot of agony or thought. So what’s happened?

I sit down to write and I feel this presence sitting behind me watching every key stroke. I feel this sense of disapproval looming over me and I feel frozen. I seem to have lost the freedom I felt when the words flowed so easily. I now think about the placement of every word, space, every hard return. Am I spacing things properly, will these words provoke anger or disapproval or worse, will they be ignored…

So there it is… will they be ignored…

When I write, it really is a message from my heart, from deep within me. I don’t know where the words come from but when they do come, know they are truth and not meant for only me. I can’t really explain it any better than that. It’s an intuitive process, not one that I think out ahead of time. I don’t do outlines or make copious notes. Sometimes I write a few words down then they come to me and I know they are meant to be written.

Yet now when I sit down to write, I feel fear. I feel stiff, choked, and muzzled. Am I moving backward in my life? Am I letting something steal my voice again? I fought so hard to get this back and here I am letting it be taken away again… I know this is all personal, ugly stuff and isn’t uplifting or positive but I have to write it.

I just now realized that I have felt that I can’t publicly write anything that doesn’t look on the bright side, that doesn’t get summed up with a sunny disposition, looking for and finding the silver lining. I just now came to the conclusion that this is not real. It is not truth and it is not me. I can’t write freely if I have to worry about what someone thinks about the words. I can’t worry about whether the words be ignored, I just need to write…

Thanks Marjie for the spark, the encouragement and for the reminder of what this really means to me…  <3

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Spring, elusive spring

Spring is beginning to pop it's head out from under the covers. In my walking to and from various bus stops, I am seeing those harbingers of spring, bright with promise and hope. Nature's way of bringing light to the dark days of winter.

Here are some I've found that I'd like to share with you...

I hope you find some spring beauty on your travels too.