I started knitting because all my friends were doing it and I wanted to be one of the cool kids. No really. That was pretty much my thought process, because I was tired of everyone whipping out their projects whenever we went anywhere while I sat like a chump, listening to the sound of clicking needles.
So I got my friend Kaitlin to teach me how to cast on, knit and purl.
“That’s it?” I asked, somewhat incredulous.
“Basically,” she said.
Knitting, this huge complex thing that turned out ridiculously ornate projects, turned out to be pretty darn simple. If you knew how to knit and purl, you could pick up increasing and decreasing, and from there all that fancypants stuff like cabling and lace knitting was, well, straightforward to pick up.
I’m still not very good at lace knitting, primarily because it takes forever since you’re using tiny yarn and needles, and also because it’s very fussy. When it comes to any sort of work requiring fine motor skills, I’m at a disadvantage because of my hand tremors. And my impatience. Let me tell you, this combination is not winning for a wide range of activities1.
What I excel at is basic projects with chunky yarns, or things that are supposed to look like slightly sloppy openwork. I knit a mean scarf and I’ve made some decent sweaters. I also make excellent hats which, alas, I cannot wear, due to my aforementioned tendency to look like a giant penis in hats. But for people who do not look like giant penes in headgear, I am an excellent holiday buddy to have.
I’d like to say I started knitting before it was hipster, but let’s face it, I started knitting at precisely the moment that it became hipster. And I’m not nearly as hardcore as those folks on Ravelry who are always linking to me in threads I’d have to register to see2. But I did like me some knitting when I started, and I accumulated a nice little yarn stash, as people do.
And then I sort of petered out with the knitting. It took me a while to figure out why but I finally experienced that gratifying lightbulb moment where suddenly everything comes together in your brain for one flashing instance of brilliance. I realized that I’d started having trouble knitting right around the time I went off medication. Hmmm, wonder why that would be.
Unmedicated, I tend to be a ball of nervous pacing and restlessness, which is not conducive to knitting. I cannot sit still for long periods of time, I cannot handle prolonged exposure to textures on my hands, I have trouble with my hands getting hot and then I start fussing and I explode with rage and tear my knitting project apart and then burst into tears.
No really, I’m not exaggerating, I just poked through my knitting basket and found an assortment of mangled projects that had clearly been nowhere near a cat but were horribly mutilated just the same.
So my hope was that, going back on medication, I’d pick up the needles again. Because I really do like knitting. I love the process of creating things and there’s something very satisfying about the act of physical creation with knitting, where I watch a project grow row by row. It’s so very exciting when you reach the moment where you can bind off and look at it and go “Hey, I made that. Pretty badass, eh?”
There’s also a certain meditative aspect to knitting as well which I like, and feel like I should like more given my newfound appreciation of yoga. You have to sit still, which is something I should be practicing more anyway, and you have to focus. The kind of projects I do don’t require hyperfocus, but you do sort of have to pay attention3 to what you’re doing.
And I feel like that’s something I’m really bad at. One of the problems with working online is that I’m always working. I’m researching an article or writing or talking with an editor or chatting with someone about a project or reading someone else’s work or networking or... something. If I’m awake there’s a computer or mobile device near me and I’m doing something work-related with it, which is really unhealthy and ultimately not productive and it’s one of the habits I’d like to work on in the coming year.
I’m hoping knitting will help me with that, because if my hands are occupied with wool, that means they’re off a damn keyboard for once, and giving me a chance to chill the hell out. I know I can’t accomplish my goal of being less constantly on without some kind of structured motivation and guidance, so rather than throwing in the towel at the start, I’m going to go buy some new yarn as an incentive to get back on the knitting horse, and to spend some time, uh, unwinding.
1. Like painting my nails, a habit I’ve recently taken up that I will be discussing in more detail later. Currently, it’s resulting in many hilarious late-night chats with Marianne which basically consist of me going “HELP!” Return
2. Seriously though what do they talk about over there? Or are you sworn to secrecy, at pains of having your number 11s confiscated if you dare to disclose? Return
3. Read: “Watch “Buffy,” periodically look down, curse loudly, pick out last three rows.” Return