I have this thing about being productive – at the end of the day, every day, I like having something to show for myself. I’m not sure if this is related to how I have a hard time sitting still, although I’m sure people that have known me for a long time who have complained for years about my need to be productive/inability to sit still /certain level of constant energy would probably say these things are in fact, entwined.
I’ve never really considered knitting to be one of the super creative things I do – to be perfectly honest, I knit very slowly and the whole concept behind making garments from a ball of yarn involving gauge and needle size is slightly difficult for me to grasp, in part because I suspect it requires more patience than I am willing to give it. Not that knitting is an instant gratification activity – I only picked it up as a hobby when Edie was a baby because I realized that motherhood was going to require me to sit and wait for long periods of time and knitting gave me something portable to do with my hands so that at the end of the day, I could say I had done something productive. Along the way, I’ve learned that knitting is the perfect activity for roadtrips, watching football/baseball/soccer/television/piano lessons/talent show practice/orchestra concerts – anytime one must sit and pretend to be otherwise engaged, knitting is the perfect pastime for keeping one’s hands busy and allowing one to call the day productive while also giving small lessons in patience, particularly if one, like myself, is drawn to knitting with small needles and finer weight yarns. And to get around the fact that I’m really not that good at it, I’ve been known to knit entire socks/hats/sweaters(!!!) and then completely rip them out to start over. It’s the process for me, not necessarily the finished product.
And so, here in the year 2020, where absolutely all of my energy and creative drive has at times felt completely squashed, I have somehow managed to finish a knitting project. It is one I started and ripped out several times – it really wasn’t until I wore it today that I realized I actually liked the finished project.
I started it back in March – I needed something to do beside doomscrolling and somehow, this project bubbled to the top. I got the boucle mohair yarn at last year’s Fiber Festival – for $5 a bunch, I got two bunches of small multicolored, multisized yarn skeins that combined, made for a decent sized shawl. I’ve realized I like shawls – not just because it channels that Little Women energy – but because I like knitting free form things only loosely following a pattern without worrying about if it will fit anyone. Shawls fit that bill nicely and bonus, they can be worn as both a shawl and an oversized scarf. This particular pattern is Scrappy Bias Shawl found over on Ravelry. I started it and ripped it out only to start over quite a few times – probably the first half of the new season of Ozark, which doesn’t tell you exactly how many times but gives you an idea of how much time I spent just starting, ripping out and starting over. I don’t think you have to be a knitter to understand that a pattern that starts off with a lot of stitch increases using yarn that has lots of little loops on tiny needles is slightly challenging to get going, although maybe you do.
Finally though, I let go and embraced it. I just kept knitting. Throughout the spring and summer, my friend Bonnie would invite me to come hear her play music with her friend John and I’d find myself sitting in her front yard, knitting while I listened to live jazz, watching the sunset, with a cold beer nearby, happy to be able to drink socially distantly in someone else’s yard with live music in this strange year. I took it with me on roadtrips and it was in my hands during so many of those zoom happy hours I did. I knit while bingewatching those comfort shows again – Schitts Creek and Gilmore Girls for the zillionth time as well as everything new we watched. I knit to avoid doomscrolling and to distract myself from worrying about the dumpster fire this year has been. I knit to relax, to help my mind wind down at night so I could attempt to get some sleep, although sleep was fleeting this year. I knit because it didn’t require me to think much, I could just sit and do it, slowly creating something.
I had such big aspirations for this year back in January and February and even early March. And then, as it turns out, this is the year I learned to sit and do nothing. I learned to embrace not being productive every damn day because what was the point? Despite all my plans and goals, my biggest creative achievement for the year turns out to be a shawl I knit because it was something to do that I honestly didn’t even like along the way and wanted to rip out pretty much almost right up until the very end but didn’t only because I needed SOMETHING to show for this shit year, and if that’s not 2020, I don’t know what is.