As the new kid in town, I feel the need to humbly admit to you that I am new to all this, to blogging as well as to knitting. I’ve looked around at some of your blogs with awe, sometimes at your fantastic layouts with their colors and images, but more often at the beautiful crafts you display and the patterns you generously share. I read, and future projects that seemed so far beyond my ken become doable and even imminent. And not just knitting projects but the other endeavors I chase after – becoming a stronger rock climber, focusing on and finishing the novel I started, singing in a choir, teaching my students more efficiently and effectively (I am a Social Studies and English teacher of pre-pubescents…if juvenile sexual humor ever enters this blogspace, I will do my best to blame it on them…)
I started knitting in the summer of 2006 after I’d finally regained full motor control of my left hand, which a student in my school broke for me. I started (and have continued) my teaching career in a failing school and worked alongside my colleagues to improve everything about it, from the mood of the place to the students’ test scores. Being physically maimed opened the door for an excess of self-pity: “All this hard work and sacrifice for my students, and this is what I get?” Needless to say, this sort of attitude only served to aggravate the bad habits I had already developed, and it allowed me to righteously adopt new ones. I spent too much time and money drinking, let my unattended debts grow — you see where this is leading. I broke someone’s heart as painfully as my hand had broken, but not as hard as my own spirit had been broken. It broke in the face of the reality that I had allowed all of my dreams – of fighting injustice in the world through education, literature and art; of surrounding myself with creative and interesting people; of financial and emotional stability – to topple around me. They were replaced with cynicism and despair.
C’est la vie, n’est-ce pas?
Feeling sorry for oneself ultimately waxes boring, as does blaming others for your problems. Fixing them yourself is empowering and fun. It demands a little moxie and well-focused attitude. So I left New York for a month during the summer to detox among my family and friends (and dogs) in Ohio and Northern Kentucky. I left my bad habits and the individuals associated with them behind and I learned how to knit. That wasn’t my intention, mind you. The leaving was the important part, knitting followed by accident: Godwin, one of my dearest friends since I was 13, has been knitting for years, I said “Teach me,” and here I am now, several scarves later blogging about the experience.
Part of the joy I have found in knitting comes from having taught my newly repaired hand how to do something it didn’t know how to do before the fracture. It made the ugly scar from the surgeries somehow acceptable. Another part of the joy comes from taking a chaos of yarn and whirring it with needles into something beautiful and soft and useful. It aids in the illusion that I could possibly do the same thing with my life, and if I can’t, well, I can still knit. The yarn will be organized into a practical something, dammit! Which brings me to the joy of giving homemade gifts, of spending time thinking about whichever beloved friend or family member it is I’m knitting the gift for, of the hours of Merchant and Ivory films watched while creating. And then there is the joy of community – this is something I hadn’t guessed at. I learned to knit with three of my best friends from home, and I adore the time we’ve spent together teaching each other techniques. I never realized that I could find a similar camaraderie with strangers here in New York. I’ve found it by attending Stitch & Bitch meetings at The Point, as well as a delightfully licentious men’s night there. I have also experienced the kindness of strangers by clacking my needles at Knit New York and will attend Bluestockings Dyke Knitting Circle on Sunday.
New skills, new art, new people, new fun – these are what have inspired me in all the directions mentioned in the first paragraph. The toppled dreams are rebuilding themselves, and all I’m doing is sitting quietly with some needles and yarn conjuring a blanket.