It’s been a weird spring and summer for me, in that I’ve had no desire to knit. None. I forced myself to finish some projects because I had all that time lying flat on my back while recovering from those lovely herniated discs, but there wasn’t a time where I was excited about knitting. I preferred to just lay on the couch and watch Netflix movies. I didn’t even read a lot. I’m proud of myself for keeping it relatively together, attitude-wise, during all that yucky back stuff, but I was kind of bummed out during those months.
But then, in August, we had a couple of cool weather days. Very cool weather, the kind of weather that makes your toes start to feel a little frosty. So I went in search of my alpaca socks, and reveled in the loveliness that is a pair of handknit socks snuggling around very cold toes. That wonderful feeling, in turn, started moving the knitting cogs in my brain–at first it was a rusty creak (“It would be nice to own more than one pair of handknit socks.”), and then a disjointed series of interruptions to my regularly-scheduled thought processes (“Sweaters appear to be in style this year,” “I’ve never made myself a sweater,” “Monkeyboy has grown out of his old sweater,” “I haven’t been to the yarn store in ages,”), all the while speeding up until I’ve rediscovered my former life as an obsessive knitter who feels greatly conflicted over whether or not to take the knitting with me to the U-Pick Berry Patch. (Yes, it’s true; and I am a little embarassed that I did have to devote a little bit of logic-making to that decision.)
But even with my brain humming along its (now) well-lubricated knitterly paths of pondering, my hands and heart were having a hard time getting with the program. I’d sit down to knit and find myself desperately wanting to get away from my yarn after a few minutes. Knitting wasn’t fun anymore. Knitting didn’t make me happy.
And, finally, I figured out what it was: Knitting reminds me, so strongly, of my neighbor who passed away this past winter.
I was forcing myself to put in some work on a vest I’m making for Monkeyboy, and as I was knitting, my eyes glanced across our front yard and into the window that I used to monitor my neighbor through during her last few months here. My thoughts wandered to the crocheting bag I gave her for Christmas two years ago, and I surprised myself with having to choke back a sob at the thought of how she no longer has a need for a crochet bag, and wondering what had happened to it. Then I thought of knit group, which featured little wise cracks she’d make; and then I saw one of her crocheted afghans laying along the back of one of my couches, which made me think of the bits of granny square advice she’d imparted to me over the years. And it hurt; hurt so badly that I had to lay my knitting down in my lap and just breathe until I could think about those things without wanting to cry.
It continues to amaze me at how much I miss my neighbor. You have all these “regular” people in your life that don’t appear special on the surface. They’re not your grandmother, your best friend, your roommate from freshman year, or that teacher who woke you up with their words of advice. There’s no “moment” that can be pinpointed as to their significance in your life–they were just there, silently building up memories and bonding slightly closer to you with each seemingly-insignificant interaction that you shared over the years. It’s a love that is rarely recognized in the flesh, and mostly only realized once circumstances change to the point of no longer having it around in its normal form. It makes me both sad and angry that I didn’t realize that I loved my neighbor like I did until she was dead.
And my neighbor is linked to the knitting part of my life, which makes the knitting part of my life hurt right now as well.
I won’t quit knitting. (That would be so many levels of stupid.) But I now understand why it’s been difficult, and that it wasn’t just my injury that made me disinterested in what I consider to be my most favorite hobby, over this past year. It’s some weird expression of grief, and now that I recognize it for what it is, it does make a lot of sense to me.
However, the past couple of days have found me, for the first time this year, looking forward to knitting. Autumn is on my mind, which raises mental images of cabled sweaters, tweedy wools, and marled mittens against a backdrop of fallen leaves. Boots beg for warm socks as lining. There are whisperings of Christmas knitting. The changing of the seasons is diverting my thoughts to the good times that await throughout the next few months.
Those knitting thoughts are happy knitting thoughts, and they are peeking through the sad knitting clouds of mourning that I’ve been unconsciously carrying behind me. So I’ve decided to take those thoughts of my neighbor and frame them in a positive light, rather than allowing my brain to close itself around the dismal interpretation of those thoughts. I remember my neighbor’s smile when she unwrapped her crocheting bag, and I don’t allow myself to think on the question of what happened to the crochet bag. The crochet bag made her happy, and I gave it to her. That is a wonderful thing. I am thankful for the crochet advice she gave me, and I’m glad that I have it to bless the lives of those I crochet for. That’s another good thing. And I will always look fondly upon “Bright White” skeins of Red Heart Super Saver yarn because it was her favorite color to edge her granny squares with, and there are a lot of people in this world who possess the Bright White works of her hands. She was good. And I got to have that in my life. It’s just good, all around.
Autumn is approaching, and Knitting Season is beckoning me to move forward…and my heart and my hands are willing to get on board.
Life goes on.
Grief isn’t permanent.
Knitting waits for you.