This past year has witnessed a resurgence in knitting and crocheting, and I think I know why. For many of us, the act of sitting and making with our hands, and the attention required while we make these things, results in a sort of meditative state. As a coping mechanism, the fibre arts provide both tactile and mental comfort, something we all need right now. I've always endeavoured to surround myself with beautiful things, and the fibre arts make my life more beautiful.
When I consider my past, and in conversation with others, I realized how potent the act of making can be when dealing with death, grief and mental illness. When I think about it, I have turned to knitting and crocheting (now weaving) at many challenging junctures in my life. Given that this is now my full-time gig, and that I've had a somewhat circuitous relationship with knitting and crocheting, I thought I would share my story with you.
I was five months pregnant with my first child when my Dad was admitted to palliative care. He had been battling cancer for six years, but things took a turn very quickly. My body, on the other hand, was growing. It was so surreal to be reminded of life and death to such an extreme. I was heartbroken that he would not meet my first born, so what did I do to help myself during this time? I went to a local yarn shop, and decided to start knitting a baby blanket. I never did finish that blanket, but I was drawn to the comfort of yarn and knitting while keeping him company during his final days.
After he passed, I couldn't look at the blanket. I didn't want to think that there was a point in that blanket where my Dad had been alive, and then after, when he was no longer there.
Anxiety & Depression
Around the time that my Dad was diagnosed with colon cancer, I was articling in Edmonton. It was a lot, and I finally realized that my anxiety and depression required some attention. I went on medication, for a year I think, and it helped a great deal.
I knew that women with a history of depression were more likely to suffer from post partum depression, so in hindsight it is not surprising that I struggled with postpartum depression when both of the boys were little. What is surprising is that it took me until my younger son was a toddler to ask for help and go on medication again. And guess what else I did? I decided to learn how to crochet.
It wasn't easy, and it took me awhile to figure it out, but I needed it at that time in my life. Having a creative outlet while struggling with parenting two small children and completing my masters (what was I thinking ?!?!) gave me something to look forward to.
Learning to Dye
While unhappily employed at a private firm a few years later, I took a "Learn to Dye Yarn" class from my now best yarn friend Holly Aamot. When that job ended rather abruptly that spring, I decided to put my energy into making beautiful yarn.
Jeff Tweedy once said that music was the first thing for him that the more he loved it, the more it loved him back. I feel this way about dyeing yarn and the fibre arts. The more I love it, the more it loves me back. This was soooo not my experience with law, or anything else really. And making things for people, sending love that way, is just a wonderful thing. Truly.
When the pandemic hit, what did I do? I started a granny square blanket. This last month, I hit a wall. I'm sure you've hit it as well. When will this pandemic give us a break? And what did I decide to do? You guessed it, knit a blanket... I think you should always have a blanket pattern on the go. They provide warmth, familiarity and calm in difficult times.