Don't worry, I didn't have to rip my sweater back to the beginning, I just needed a knitting image to go with the post title.
Part 1: The rut. Being in it. Etc.
When you fall out of the habit of making things, sometimes the smallest stumbling blocks seem insurmountable. You take a short pause, get stopped up or stuck... and then somehow it's months later and you can't remember where you keep the extra bobbins or where your elastics are or how the hell to do a wrap and turn.
By you, I mean of course, me.
It's been a long time now — nearly four months — since I mentioned I was struggling on a few fronts that were keeping me from crafting: Struggling with my daughter's life-threatening food allergies and debilitating severe chronic eczema. Struggling with a strict budget. Struggling with lack of sleep (due to afore-mentioned toddler eczema).
At the time I hoped it was all temporary, and in a month or so I'd have it sorted. But bad turned into worse, and temporary into never-ending. I'm afraid I even stopped reading all your wonderful blogs because it hurt too much to feel so behind and so out of the sewing and knitting loop.
On top of the above-mentioned, the minute my sweet girl started preschool, she (predictably) began catching every cold virus known to humankind. She'd get minor sniffles and a cough and be better in a few days... but between my sleep-deprivation and my own seasonal allergies, I began getting repeatedly seriously sick. Not cold sick, but fever and chills and fatigue and aches sick for weeks on end. I'd get well for a few days, begin to get back on my feet, try to catch up on my life and work and chores... and then the whole cycle would start again.
So. How does this relate to "knitting therapy"?
Part 2: The knitter on the subway.
Recently I was trying to keep my eyes open on the subway train after yet another horrible sleepless night of trying to soothe my daughter as she cried and itched and scratched from head to toe from her severe eczema. I was feeling pretty distraught and sorry for myself, and just generally glum and anxious and worried and tired. I was worried that the latest expensive time-intensive eczema treatment regimen would just be another bust. I was tired of all the well-meaning advice and comments from strangers on the street alarmed by the cracked, flaking, inflamed, infected red rash covering her face ("What's wrong with her face?" "Have you tried Vaseline?" etc.) I worried that I had distanced myself from my friends, and that the people around me that I hadn't pushed away were probably sick of hearing about nothing but my little girl's food allergies and eczema. I worried that the slight sore throat I had was a harbinger of yet another miserable few weeks of illness.
Across from me on the subway there was a knitter. I found myself watching her calmly click-clacking her needles, working her way stitch by stitch through a thick wooly gray — scarf? sweater? it was unclear. I have no idea what was going through her mind, but she seemed utterly relaxed and absorbed in her work.
And I remembered my soft chartreuse merino Georgina cardigan, the one I had near-finished in September.
I realized the only thing that had kept me from moving to the next stage was that I just hadn't taken the time to search for the size 6 double-pointed needles I needed to pick up and knit the sleeves.
I didn't get around to searching out the needles just yet — I barely felt capable of putting my clothes on the right way front in the mornings – but I felt a tickling at the back of my brain.
Then I was watching an online webinar about the latest advances in managing pediatric eczema (yes, that's how I occupy myself these days) ... and the doctor presenting mentioned that they had some success in teaching children to keep their hands busy with knitting as a way of distracting them and calming them and stopping them from scratching their rashes and infections. As a kind of meditation.
Part 3: Digging out the DPNs.
It still took me a while. But, a few mornings later, while my husband packed me a lunch and got my daughter dressed, I found a few moments to rummage through my knitting drawers and find my size 6 wooden DPNs.
I began to knit again on my lunch break (I didn't want to mess with DPNs and short rows and lace and picking up stitches all at once on a crowded subway). It came back to me — mostly, though I had to look up tutorials on short rows and even which direction a yarn over is supposed to go (really). And I can't describe the feeling of relief and calm that came over me — even amidst the sleep deprivation and anxiety and worry for my sweet little girl — as the soft wool fed through my fingers and I clicked the needles back and forth.
Anyway. The title of this post is a bit of a joke, but a bit not. When you're really low, there is something to be said for the calm that comes from making things with your own hands, with doing something that is just complicated enough to absorb most of your attention, but not so much your mind can't wander a bit or you can't speak.
Part 4: Relearning the habit.
I really miss you all (am I still in your feed readers?) though I can't make any promises that I'll be back at active sewing or blogging or even blog-reading any time soon. But I no longer feel totally interrupted in my crafting, and maybe I can relearn the habit of never not making things, even in the small moments I have available to me.
On another front... my daughter's eczema has been so frighteningly bad lately that I couldn't possibly show any photos of her sweet little face here. But today, a new regimen we've been trying has been having some tentatively positive results... and we were actually able to take a family holiday photo. This is a huge deal.
Thanks for listening!