Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Rhythm of Knitting

I am a knitter.  Lots of people love to knit, but it is essential to me, like bread and water (or chocolate?) I’ve been reflecting lately on why I love to knit, and ‘why’ I started to knit.  I knew of it, of course, but wasn’t ever really attracted to the craft until I observed my Grandmother in the actual act of knitting– and thinking back I NOW recognize exactly what the attraction was.  Knitting has Rhythm.

I love Rhythm.  Rhythm is the opposite of chaos, Rhythm is organized, and centering.  I find Rhythm in lots of things, from daily routines, to family habits, I find it in music and dancing.  Knitting is a rhythmic act unto itself, and my Grandmother was a very rapid knitter.  I was mesmerized by how smooth such a levering movement could be in her old, wrinkled fingers.  So, of course, I immediately asked her to teach me.

Suprisingly, she couldn’t.  She learned to knit as a young school-girl in early 20th century London.  It was a required skill for girls in those days along with many other needle skills.  She had been doing it all her life, and though she tried to explain it to me and show me how – she had to stop and say, “ I think I’ve just been doing this too long.”  The rhythm and motion of knitting were so much a part of her it was inside of her.

I am one of those people who taps fingers and fidgets constantly.  Is it as though I am wired to require a constant rhythm in my life.  Knitting is one thing that can be done while doing many other things: chatting with my kids, watching TV, nursing the baby, talking on the phone, etc.  It fits into my life really well, and truth be told I am a pretty fast knitter. 

So many things in life happen that are beyond my control – but I can ‘create something’ on my needles that wasn’t there before.  I try to teach and to raise good kids, but that is a very SLOW progression of many little things – sometimes painfully SLOW – and the results and rewards of that hard work may not show up for many, many, years to come.  A few hours of knitting produces very noticeable results – and can give me a feeling of finishing, of completing a task that is very rewarding.

I have knitted through a lot of disasters in my life.  My favorite time to knit is in anticipation of a coming baby – nothing gives me more pleasure than making baby things – and I wish I could make something for every single baby in the world that I see.  I guess, in a nutshell, knitting organizes my life into a steady rhythm, when really it is not organized at all.  No matter how crazy my day is, no matter how far behind I get in the constant work that needs to be done, at the end of the day, that heap of yarn and those small wood sticks are sitting there unchanged and ready to click along – bringing a kind of order to my chaos. 

A 'proper' childhood

As dutiful parents, we try as best we can to provide those experiences we feel our children should have.  Those experiences that will help mold them into good citizens, role models, great leaders, etc.  Like sitting in a van for 3 hours stranded on the side of the road.  Are you doing YOUR duty?

So begins the family road trip; only as we got going our family swagger van spewed smoke and smelly fluids 10 miles from the summit of Snoqualmie pass.  Simply put:  Classic breakdown on the side of the road stranding a family of 7 for 3 hours.

Now, I know that parents mean well these days, but there seems to be, IMO, a lack of family road trip breakdowns.  At least maybe I'm not hearing about them as much.  I guess cars are more reliable now then they used to be, and the advent of cell phones has taken that exciting edge of danger out of the breakdown on the side of the road.  Oh for the 'Good old Days!'

But we are 'good' parents - so we decided before we left not to bring anything that might entertain small children for those 3 hours -  "You can just look out the window, that's what we did when we were kids!" And of course, we are 'good' parents so we more than properly over-hydrated said kids before driving up the mountain.

Now I have had my share of family adventures - I hope you'll enjoy reading them as I blog along - and though this was a 'character building' experience to be sure, I hope I've developed sufficient character from it in order NOT to need another experience like this.  Between the boys needing to constantly whiz on the side of the road, the careful avoidance of a panic attack from one kid, nursing the crying baby squished into the back between two hyper boys thinking up games and stories, the strange van of homeless people that stopped by to 'help' (we think), the hot sun (YES the one nice day we've had this week) I'll count this one as experience fulfilled. 

I had to laugh when my husband told the state patrolwoman, "Now officer, I KNOW, I wasn't speeding this time!"

All in all though, we did make it to our destination, thanks to the wonderful help of my family!  I began to feel as though I had truly been rescued.........  Oh, and Thanks to that nice patrolwoman who gave stickers to my kids while they waited.  AND by the way, walking up and down the freeway with a small child and a car a few yards back with a hood up causes people to call 911.  Who knew?

Wonderful times.  Good memories to laugh at.  Life 'IS' my teacher.