stitches in time.

I probably shouldn't say this.  At least not out loud.
It seems fool hardy.  imprudent. Unwise, even.  The sort of thing that just isn't said in some circles, much less believed.  I have though this for years, silently, discreetly.  Kept it on the QT, because it was so obviously profane.  But here I am, in the company of people I trust, still awash in my morning coffee rush.  Maybe a little giddy, seeing as we are already a week into March. A week for soft things, this one. Some beg it.  You know the ones.  Heavy on the gentle, double dose of pamper. and the last of the holidays has finally kicked the bucket (finally). And actually, I must've danced a few too many year round sunshine jigs in a past life.  The psychological community would prefer the technical term No DUH!, I think, based on the reaction I'll probably get. 

So here it is.
I actually do not hate winter (most some of the time).  

Apparently I can be a bit wishy-washy. don't know how to keep a commitment. Just so you know. Don't get me wrong, I adore spring, and all that slap-me-now sunshine of summer. It rocks.  I revel in the beauty of autumn. hauling it home with both fists-full, and for months I want nothing else. But winter is a thing of quiet wonder, a slow and cozy place.  Here are days that speak shelf-life, they know how to pace themselves. Urgency takes a back seat to endurance, for days and people both. if you're inclined to wait on sunshine until May, anyway.  It might seem restrictive, a little Mother Hubbardish, I guess.  But limits like these work their own clever magic.  Limits supply direction and focus and spur creativity to solve tough, intractable problems.  Like finishing projects started years months ago.  what the heck?

As you may know, I am physically incapable of sitting still and doing nothing. that includes watching TV. Really, I just can't do it.  I can be present, physically in the room, but my fingers, they must be moving.  Reading a book (flip, flap).  Dusting (ex'scuse me, pardon me).  Moving furniture (sliiiide, whack!).  Anything, besides idle sitting.  Always been this way. Always will be.  I'm sure of it.  Fortunately, as it happened, I was able, during my kindergarten years, to snag time on the calendar of an expert knitter.  She's one of those people who can take two sticks and six skeins and turn out an absolute stunner of a sweater, complete with intricate detailing and elegant flaring with such universal compelling appeal that strangers stop her on street corners just for compliments.

I know what you are thinking. Knit?  How quaint!  What a throwback. Still, I urge you, buck up and buckle down, spend a few days hours learning one stitch.  Enough for a scarf.  Enough to get you going. Enough to have you mumbling to yourself ... just one more row... and by morning's end, viola! you are knitting! Be prepared that things may veer a little off course at first. This is to be expected.  On the bright side, keep at it and you will succeed, brilliantly.  I know, I've been knitting forever.  No more darting eyes, ripping pages, gnashing of teeth.  Just the quiet tap-tap of two bamboo needles.  We're talking serious therapy here dude.

 On the other bright side, half finished projects, everywhere. makes my heart sing. Because, funny thing, those balls of wool just keep turning up in the darnedest places.  I'd imagined they would gather dust over the years, go on some sort of sabbatical, almost. I hadn't imagined they would follow me around, day after day, like a puppy.  Like a habit.  Like a hobby.  I had no plans for a hobby.  I did not need a hobby. Hobbies take hands and time, and I can't even remember when my hands were last free...or for that matter my time. I mean, seriously.  free time?  filled. Full to bursting.  Always.  still, I manage to fill hours with mindless rows, soft and warm, of something or other.  cables. stockinet. ribbing. knit, and purl. At first, I could not remember. could not keep them straight. which was which? they became this way and that way, or easy and hard, or the normal and oh-no-here-we-go-again way.  I've made weird holes and strange loops and odd haunted spots where the stitch stretches long like a fun-house mirror.  I finally discovered there was a back and front! at times I had two left hands, but I always kind of loved it anyway. At that point it was not the end product I was loving, per se.  I was firmly in scarf territory, and didn't see myself re-locating anytime soon.  It felt a bit silly, of course, compared to the stunning talent that was on display via my sensi. It was kinda like marching into Le Cordon Bleu and hollering "Guess what?  I made TOAST!!"

Just to shake it up a bit, I tried my hand (hands?) at sewing. Big mistake! Sewing!!! Sewing flummoxed me for years. I have taken a few classes in the past, and of course I should mention my home economics stint in junior high school, which I found frustrating.  And when I get frustrated I kind of shut down, and throw it in the trash when I get home.  patience in the craft journey is not my strong point. I like hands on, seat of my pants, sky's the limit free thinking. take it with me projects. so, sewing. It bugs me no end.  Partly because I'm so keen on knitting, embroidery, rug hooking, (and for a short time macrame! I know right, macrame!) and the like. but their crafty cousin sewing does not respond the same way, turning out misshapen and squishy and strange. I fear the bobbin. and then there's threading that needle, which also sets my teeth on edge. I'm actually wincing thinking about straight versus zig-zag.  This, I presume, is partly my fault. while most projects serve it up sweet-and-straight, paired with patience and creativity, sewing makes me feel completely out of my element artistically. I feel challenged.  And by challenged I mean I suck at it! It's all good though, because when you fail at one thing you sharpen your other skills, (that's true, right?) and I think in the long run it will help me grow as a "wool artist".

 To be fair, I like flying in fine company.  Give me the basic recipe, two ingredients in all, simple, straightforward. create! This can sometimes end up looking a little Lady Gaga, what with that vivid purple playing off the parsley green.  But the colors, the patterns, they're all classic harmony.  On the heap, magenta goes with everything just fine.  Also a half skein of fushia for bright sassy spunk, and a greedy fistful of sparkle, just because. Toss in some fluff (angora if you have it, mohair if you don't) and a spoon tip of bling, the whole thing sings of whimsey and happy. No small feat, in the dark days of March.  And one more reason (just in case you need one) for a little winter love.

But what I'm really after, is not excellence at all. and that's okay. What I love, what I crave is the way a pair of #10's and a ball of Brown Sheep grounds me. for bigger matters.  Somehow, flashing fingers snag my mind into stillness, let it settle more deeply into the really important stuff, like a stack of new books, tea room lunches and coming full circle with a peaceful heart. What I wasn't after, what I'm also loving, is the way this knitting business echoes the endless loops of life, the floor sweeping, dust chasing, laundry doing. all those necessary never-endings.  The yarn, the needles, they're rote and monotonous, just like the rest.  Except at the end of the day, instead of more dirties, there's a warm woolly sweater, the color of sky.  It's an organizing rhythm, immediate gratification, strangely sustaining.  Like breathing, I guess.

 And then there's the see what I made!!! bit.  Life, sometimes is one of those gigs that runs awfully light on everyday tangible progress.  Real progress is rampant, I'm sure of it, even if it's only nailing down how not to do things on tomorrow's list.  But too often, the only solid signs of a day's work are a new basket of clean britches and dinner's leftovers teetering in the fridge.  No Powerpoints signifying done, no promotions signed sealed and delivered.  Knitting's progress.  Concrete, quantifiable, Lookie here! progress.  The sort you can squeeze even into a week with a whole morning lost to tax unpleasantries and a whole evening hosting the after-hours repairman.  A week with a wolloping head cold, and appointments and chauffeuring galore.  A week when you need to eat cereal and bake heart shaped cookies and recover from a wee winter storm threat.  And throw a few bunnies around, let's not forget that.  Even in a week such as this, well, can you believe it? Three skeins down, another sweater nearly done.

Problem?  Oh, that.  Well, if you've been keeping count, you can see it yourself, this time next month, I'll have two new sweaters.  Then what?  A round of back-ups, maybe.  That'll get me through April.  But unless I find enough bandwidth to count as I knit, I think, come May, I'm all out of luck.  And my fingers are feeling all twitchy, already, imagining patterns up to here and sad mothballed needles.  And the yarn.  Hoo boy.  The letters A L P A C A keep dancing all over my brain, completely uninvited.  Sometimes I send prism yarns in to chase after them, but that's a whole separate problem.  Serious trouble, I tell you.

I'm always starting a new project. neglecting the laundry or sweeping the floors. but I did make French Macarons. True to form, I spent my time baking frivolous treats when I have a million other things to do. And I won't even be here to eat them. And no one else in the house has a sweet tooth. this may give you a new sliver of understanding, and a greater appreciation of what I go through on a daily basis. but my peeps proclaimed my addition of rose water and Swiss meringue butter cream for the filling as "yummy", and those words just don't lie.

I may be scarce on the social scene over the next few weeks. I'll be all nesty and cozy with my fancy fleecy pants and my knitting jitters. But I imagine you already gathered as much.

and so the projects they are stacking up. they are moving into baskets, totes and table tops. into my home. and some of them have moved into my heart. a.n.d. they bring friends. at this point, it's a little crowded up in here, in my head. and my knitting basket. It's full. In a mostly-good way.

My mom is always asking me what it's like. to have so many things going at once, (she finishes every ding dang think she starts, who does that?) Sometimes, she  tells me I'm crazy. take it easy. finish one thing before starting another. I can tell that she wants more projects of her own. Well, there's plenty to go around. When you find yours, be warned that they travel in packs. Just know that you'll soon be taking your knitting to the Chinese buffet and  the doctor's waiting room. buying it tacos to-go.You'll forgo reality tv and book-writing and DVD making because your free time will be spent making cables with baby alpaca until midnight. Here's something else you should know, these projects, they will wreck you. They won't always be as graceful as you hope. They'll taunt you when you leave the house. call to you from another room. They'll stretch out on the couch and make you itchy when you're trying to read. Also, they'll teach you things about life, patience, beauty, and love. 

They'll find the loosest seam of your heart and they'll yank that thread.

They'll exhaust you, exasperate you. They'll crack you up so bad.

You'll tell yourself you're done for the day, then grab them up when the moon lifts higher.

You'll think every single day about them and pray for a few extra minutes. You'll try to ease yourself into the reality that they might never be finished, but it won't work. You won't accept it.

You'll have a first row seat to many failures and triumphs. and you'll know for sure that there are many more left under wraps. But you'll think about seeing them the next time and you just won't give a rip about the mistakes. You want them there, that's all. You want them safely tucked in a drawer. You want to see them when your feeling bad. feed them peanut butter cookies or heat them a bowl of soup.

Eventually, the day you finish shows up like a rainbow in January. It's never when you expect. Suddenly, it's just there, waiting for you. making you laugh out loud because you are so stinking happy. You find yourself smiling and you say it out loud - I'm so happy. You'll feel like your very own savior. This is what it must feel like to have everyone home. Those special stitches in time where that rush of pure joy washes over you. This is that happiness. It's the kind that just stays good. 

(we may not still be talking about knitting).


Moroccan Spice Chick Peas and Spinach
(go here for recipe)


  1. Anonymous3/08/2013

    Words that inspire... words take you higher! Lifts one with ease... more, please. XO


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