Tuesday, March 10

A beginning, A Middle, and an End



I’m learning to knit. So what does that have to do with writing? I’ll make it work, I promise, but first let me tell you about the whole knitting thing. 

I’m not at all crafty—anyone who knows me well will tell you that I’m hopeless when it comes to sewing or needlework or artsy-fartsy stuff of any kind. My friend Connie tried to teach me to knit several years ago (back about 2009), but it was a disaster. Not only because I’m left-handed and she’s not, but also because I truly didn’t care enough to do it. My mind was elsewhere and I couldn’t figure out what the big thrill was about knitting. 

Fast-forward to November 2014—life was rough. I’d lost a dear friend to a tragic death; I was going to chemo with my sweet pal, Dee; I was trying to spend as much time as I could with my sister, Kathi, who was suffering terribly with her own cancer; and then my precious Connie was diagnosed with breast cancer. Truly, I felt as though I’d been sucker-punched in the solar plexus by life …and death. Things were grim and I was trying to find some Zen—something I could do that would help still my racing thoughts and aching heart.

Connie suggested I try knitting again, so I dragged Husband to Hobby Lobby and we got bamboo knitting needles, some nice bulky wool yarn, and a book about how to knit a scarf. Still doubting how this could possibly help me, I got on YouTube and found a how-to-knit video for lefties. A quick plug for YouTube here—seriously, you can find instructions on anything there! I watched it and watched it and watched it and finally took up my needles and began. 

I confess, I knitted, screwed up, tore out, and began again probably about a dozen times before I finally managed to make an entire winter scarf for Husband. He loves it, claims it’s the warmest scarf he’s ever owned, and wears it whenever he goes out. What a great, supportive guy, huh? Since then, I’ve managed to make several scarves and a bunch of cotton dishcloths, and I've learned several new stitches and patterns. I actually knitted an entire baby blanket for Dee’s new granddaughter, Stella Fay. 

Best of all, I found the peace I was looking for—the moments of Zen that got me through Kathi’s passing in December, Connie’s surgery that same month (she’s doing great, by the way!), and Dee’s chemo days, which have suddenly turned into a knitting circle, where our mutual friends come for fellowship, laughs, and a little needlework. Knitting allows me the grace of mindlessness in those moments when the anguish of missing my sister becomes so unbearable I can hardly breathe. Knitting eases my mind and brings peace to my soul when I'm  worrying about Dee or Connie or Son or Grandboy or any of the people it's my job to worry about.

Best of all, knitting makes me feel accomplished—ah, get ready, because here comes the connection. Knitting, like writing, is a creative process—a process with a beginning, a middle, and an end. When a book is done, I can sigh in satisfaction at a job well done and be grateful for the creativity of it. Knitting is the same way, whether it’s a dishcloth or a scarf or the conquering of a new pattern or stitch. I’m proud of my projects—books and baby blankets. And here's another great plus--I can plot and make up dialogue while I knit--it's a two-fer!

How about you? How do you find peace in a world fraught with chaos and worry? What’s your Zen?

9 comments:

  1. I love this! My Zen is at the sewing machine (where I'm going as soon as I comment here--I actually have a deadline on a sewing project. Unfair!) I think having "something else" is what makes writing possible for some of us, because if we put our whole creative souls into it, it makes us crazy.

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    1. I know you love to sew, Liz, but you're right, deadlining your Zen is totally unfair! And yes, the something else keeps us from the crazy.

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  2. I think it's great that you're learning to knit and have another creative outlet, Nan! My MIL tried to teach me to knit a few years ago and ... yeah, that was a bad experience. I do like to sew, though, and take pictures.

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    1. Knitting didn't work for me at first, either, but I think I was more ready for something to keep my little fingers occupied! Sewing works, Kristi, and so does photography.

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  3. NASCAR is my zen. I get totally lost in another world while cars are racing around the track at 200 miles an hour, inches apart. It is a world that is completely different from my own - fast-moving, loud, dangerous, exciting, colorful - all the things my settled retired life is not.

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    1. How cool to find your Zen in a world so different from your normal life--that's great! Thanks for coming by, Vicki!

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  4. Not for me! I'd end up knitting a sweater with one arm ten inches longer than the other one. :) My zen is reading. Whenever I'm stressed I close the door, lower the shades and alternate between bed, recliner, and couch.

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    1. Reading is my next-best Zen, too, Roben. When I'm too itchy to ready, the knitting helps me relax. So glad you stopped by!

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  5. I love this! I love the knitting at chemo circle--there's a story in there somewhere :) My zen used to be cross-stitching. But my eyes are a little more bleary than they used to be. Cross-stitching got me through some Dad hospital emergencies. Now, it's coasters--which I still need to send you! I have them ready, I just need to, you know, pack them up and mail them. And jigsaw puzzles. And reading. Always reading. But sometimes I need to keep my hands busy and that's where puzzles and coasters come in.

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