Knitting, Un-Knotting #CopingWithCOVID19
My name is Abby and I love to write. I’m thankful to be here, to have a place to put some of my words. I’ve written guest posts before, and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you on an ongoing basis as a perma blogger. I’m a writer, or I’m trying to be. I’m a mother, though I’ve never given birth. I’m a wife and a sister and a daughter and a friend. Right now I’m an active member of the church, though my relationship with my faith and with the church as an institution have changed over the last two years. Washington state is my home, whether I live there or not, though I do live there now. I wrote this piece a couple weeks after schools here shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope it speaks to you.
I made a little yellow dish cloth on my knitting needles this week. I found a buttery yellow ball of cotton yarn in my stash; I made a slipknot, placed it on my needle, and started knitting. It’s a simple cloth called a granny square. It’s made entirely in garter stitch, so there’s not a lot of counting or pattern consultation, no tricky stitches to look up on YouTube. Garter stitch creates neat, even rows of bumps. The edges, made by the tiniest deviation from the garter stitch rows, come out looking as if I’d put more work into it than I have. It’s simple, easy to make. Something your grandma may have had on hand. Something a farm wife might have made a hundred years ago and used as a dish cloth, trivet, hot pad, whatever she needed.
With life being in this strange, quiet chaos, my fingers were longing for the repetitive motion of simple knitting. My mind yearned for the back and forth, back and forth sway of the needles in a mindless, soothing rhythm. It’s like the needles are rocking my brain back and forth, calming the parts that are anxious and scared and tired. Somehow it works.
My husband refers to knitting as witchcraft because I take a piece of string and make it into a whole piece of cloth, a whole hat, a whole sweater. My eight year-old, having tried and quickly given up at learning to knit on a pair of needles, watches me in awe. It’s amazing to him the way my hands move deftly, effortlessly through the stitches. His eyes get big when he sees that after only a few minutes I have a neat triangle hanging from my needles. To his mind what I am doing is pure magic. It’s pure magic to me too, but in a different way. I understand how the stitches are formed, how the yarn loops together. I remember those first attempts—how hard it was to make my hands do what I wanted them to do, like a kindergartner learning to tie her shoes-—but since I’m the one who put in that effort, the muscle memory does not surprise me. What does surprise me is while I work this yarn into a series of knotted loops, somehow, at the same time, the knotted loops inside of me untangle one at a time. Just like magic.