September 9, 2010

Knitting: A Story

I learned how to knit when I was 8 years old. Little did I know it would be such a huge part of my life later on down the road.

My mum taught me just the basics of a cast on or two, the knit stitch, and how to bind off. I would pick it up every now and then, needing to be reminded how to just cast on, since I always forgot. I've always been obsessed with yarn (I have no idea why. Maybe I was just destined to be a serious knitter from the beginning) and because of that knitting was a good excuse to play with said yarn. I would cast on a ridiculous amount of stitches, and then knit and knit and knit, until I ran out of yarn. This usually resulted in a knitted object large enough to make a car cozy. A lot of times I would rip out and do it again, just because I didn't have any more yarn. This happened every now and then over the years, but I was never terribly serious about it.

When we got pregnant with our boys I went to the grocery store one night, needing food supplies, and saw a little book on the rack next to the check register. It was a book of baby knit patterns. I decided then that I needed to knit for my impending child (we didn't know it was twins yet) and bought the book. A few days later I went to Michael's and purchased some soft, baby-green yarn. I had it in my mind that I was going to make the checker board looking blanket.

Unfortunately, I didn't know how to do a purl stitch, and this pattern required purling. Now, I'm not sure if it was the pregnancy brain, or I really am just stupid, but for days and days I could not figure out how to purl. I would look at how-tos and watch videos and researched everything, only to end up in tears night after night because I could not figure it out. (Hint: You bring the yarn to the front first.) I know my poor husband thought I was nuts because I kept subjecting myself to frustration and crying. But I finally figured it out and was on my way to making this blanket.

Then our world turned upside down and knitting became my sanity.

Our boys were born at 27 weeks - way, way, way too early to be in the world. We numbly wandered through their birth, and following weeks as we roughly adjusted to life as NICU parents. After a bit I returned to the blanket, and working. I would take it to work with me in a canvas bag and I would zone out and just knit, not getting any work done. Thankfully, I worked for my father and he was very understanding.

It was a constant. It was secure. It was the one thing I knew I could do, without breaking down. The ease and repetition of creating each stitch calmed my nerves. The only things that held me together during that time were my God, my husband, and my knitting.

I don't know when I finished that blanket exactly, but it was after we finally brought our babies home three months later. 

I was hooked. It was like a drug. I couldn't put it down. I bought yarn. Lots of yarn. I made scarves and hats, and baby jackets. I even made a dress. I learned how to knit in the round and do lace by knitting two stitches together and making yarn overs. I poured myself into knitting books, I found Ravelry, I had finally found my source of peace.


Knitting preserved my soul again when we got slammed with the news that my mum had a massive brain tumor. We didn't know if it was cancerous or not, whether she would survive or not, and it was so urgent that the doctors rushed her into surgery a few weeks after finding out. I don't think anyone really knows what to do when faced with news like that. So I knit. I knit hats for my mum, to keep her head warm and cover the scar. Hat after hat. It was all I could do. Once again, knitting to the rescue.

I suffer from what most people would call social anxiety disorder. I get horribly nervous and sick to my stomach in situations that involve a lot of people, places I don't know, or things that are grossly out of the norm for me. I have fought it since I was 9 years old. It has been a very rough and painful battle.

When I finally got comfortable enough to knit in public, I realized that it was calming me. My anxiety was lessened since I had something to do with my hands. Now I can't leave the house without something to work on. I heard a saying once that I thought nailed it on the head.

"She uses her hands as a means to calm a turbulent mind." This was said in regards to knitting. I can't tell you how true this is. I can focus on the task at hand (literally), even if it is just the simple knit stitch.

There are 5 babies in this generation between my husband's sister and I, and I just found out that she's got her third on the way. I have knit for every one of them, and I will knit for this one as well. It's a way for me to wrap the people I care for in love. And I have knit for people I don't know and will never meet, because I heard that they were going through a difficult time and my heart aches for them. Heck, I knit for my neighbor's baby and I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm nuts for it.

I know a lot of people think I'm just the crazy lady with the yarn. Well, they're probably right. But knitting has been my second source of sanity through so many trials and hard times. It has gotten me through pain and anger, through sadness and depression, through fear, and has been a source of delight when I am happy and just at ease. It calms my soul and quiets my turbulent mind. And now, as I go through bumps in the road, I know...

I can always knit. It's still my drug.


myletterstoemily said...

well, if you had to choose a drug, that
would be the most helpful one!

i have a form of that anxiety, too, and
now you have helped me understand
that if i have something to do with my
hands, i melt feel less anxiety.

thank you for your vulnerability.

Farm Girl said...

So sweet Megan, I still love that little coat. I know whatever you make it will be wonderful.
I am so glad you knit, watching you makes me calm.

Very nice post!

Blessedmom's Simple Home said...

I loved reading this and seeing the sweet items made by you. I'm sure everyone loves the gifts you've made for them by hand. I hope your mom is doing better too. I only learned to knit the basic stitch as a child and have never really picked it up although I've fumbled with it from time to time. I think that's why your story impresses me even more. You conquered it!

NetRaptor said...

Wow, I didn't realize that's why you knitted all the time. I'm glad it helps you keep calm. I always found that working with clay sculptures did the same thing. Something about using your hands and wrestling with the clay is just so soothing.

And whatever you knit for us this time, I'm sure it will be wonderful. I steal those knitted blankets you made for the current two, and take naps under them all the time. :-)

Meg said...

NR: It really does. I don't think I could stop now if I wanted to. I haven't gone a day without knitting at least a stitch or two in a long time.

MarmePurl said...

Meg, So glad I was led to this post. Beautiful story from one who can empathize. Beautiful story. Beautiful knitting.

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