Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stretching myself and men knitting.

Since I have begun knitting I am being more adventuresome than I otherwise would be in the realm of the knitting itself as well as elsewhere. Can knitting help you overcome some of your fears? I believe so.

Sitting quietly in a room with much going on - or equally nothing happening at all - there is a peace that surrounds you as you knit. Sometimes the needles click against each other and it becomes a beautiful sound. It is almost a sign that God is in Heaven and all is as right with the world as it can possibly be.

When I was younger I didn't understand why or how my mother could sit so quietly for hours sewing. I have fallen asleep many times seeing the needle in her hand catch the light and glisten like something almost alive, or better yet, magical. I've seen her thimble upon her middle finger poised to push the needle through some difficult cloth and hear her humming softly, or singing one of the many songs she knew from church or from before, taught to her by her grandmother which went all the way back to who knows where. I couldn't understand then because life was so new and everything was out there for me to discover. Life itself felt as if it was throbbing in my veins. With all of this happening, how could she sit there so quietly for hours and sew like she did? Now I understand a little more I think. I hope.

Although I have not done everything I have ever wanted to do I can now settle into my own living room and accept I probably never will. It doesn't mean I don't want to do those things still, but am more ready to admit the time for trying to learn to ski has indeed passed me by because my body isn't what it was. Yes, I am only 45, but I have had 45 years of constant pain and I am just glad to be alive at this point. Instead of adventure I want peace and love and a roof over my head and food in my belly. Instead of wanting clubs and fast cars I seem to want, and appreciate smaller things like ink, fountain pens, yarn and needles to work the yarn with. It is good life is moving forward, but it is also good to realize I do not have to move as fast as it does. It is OK to be a little slower - you see more that way.

In being slower in the eyes of the world, I can turn my time to things that are different and challenging, at least for me. One of the things I am going to eventually attempt in my knitting world is lace. Victorian Lace Today intrigued me this Sunday. I saw patterns in there I can remember seeing my grandmother wear. Sadly I never saw her make them. Still, seeing the patterns of shawls and scarves and table cloths so delicate they looked as if a spider had spun them made me want to do them. It made me want to create something so very beautiful I could hand down to children in my family with pride.

Pride and accomplishment. Those are the things that matter to be in my hobbies now, not just being on the latest trend. I want the things I do now to be valued and valuable, not just to me, but to someone else. And, sadly, it is slowly beginning to occur to me that some of these handcrafts I have taken for granted are in short supply, even knitting.

"No one does this any more, and it would be a shame to let something so beautiful and pure go by the wayside." This was a comment made in a blog I read recently of a man who took up knitting. He did it to help calm his nerves during the passing process of his wife. Now he knits because he enjoys it and his wife would be proud of him continuing on the tradition because, as he explained later on, she taught him how.

Always before I have had gender issues where the knitting realm was concerned. Women knitted. Men did other things. As I am now discovering, men have knitted for centuries, just different things. The women have knitted the socks and delicates and the men have knit scarves and socks, and garters, and other things. It wasn't unusual for a seaman in the late 1800s take needles and yarn with him to finish up some socks or repair things he was wearing. Socks were precious items for warmth and since his wife or daughter, sister or mother, had made them for him they were cherished. Can you imagine that? Cherished.

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