Monday, January 23, 2006

Behind, Ahead, and Right on Time

Some days, life at home reminds me of graduate school. Those late-night philosophical discussions, endless cups of cocoa-laced coffee, roaming the library stacks. . .

Oh, that's not it. What does bring to mind my years in school is the nagging, insistent feeling that there is always something that I ought to be doing. Something more deserving of my time, whether I'm sleeping, eating, sweeping the floor, collapsing in frustration, or heaven forbid, knitting. Plus the ever-present vague level of exhaustion. Of course, now that's because small children wake me every night; then it was because I just stayed up late for reasons of my own.

I've been practicing the pattern for my knitting olympics entry: "Dainty Bess," on some cream-colored kitchen cotton-type yarn. I figured that if I did it in a form I could see, perhaps I could unlock some of the mysteries of matched decreases and YOs. It helped some. It looks fairly lumpy, and I'm not going to try to block it. I still make many mistakes, some out of inattention, and some seemingly because little fairies invade my head every time I pick up knitting needles. As I knit, this odd sensation sneaks up on me, as though the instructions are sliding off some nonstick coating section in my brain. What's most astonishing to me is that intellectually, I have this stuff down. I understand the theory completely. I can see how the patterns work, I can explain it to others. Practice? Ah, well, that's where things get sticky.

A friend told me that no one with small children has "lace brain." I know this isn't true, because there are knitters with small children (even the homeschooled variety) who knit lace. Maybe it's just me.

Yesterday was the first day of the reinvigorated "Knitting as a Spiritual Practice" group at my chuch. I don't know what I envisioned -- would everyone be knitting prayer shawls to selflessly give away? I knew what I would do with an hour of quiet knitting -- yes! the Clock Vest would come with me.

Three whole rows of mistake-free (with a little work) vest came home with me. This despite the lack of quiet contemplation. One knitter seemed to need to talk. At first, I was a little tired of it, but then I realized that maybe she needed me to listen to her more than I needed to knit silently. A couple more knitters joined us, one with a prayer shawl.

The talking knitter had already told me how much it meant when she got a prayer shawl when she was in the hospital. Apparently I was meant to listen and maybe learn just a little bit, with work on the vest being a gracious bonus. As I biked home, I looked forward to getting back to my busy household.

The truth is, there really is too much to do at home. That's the nature of small children and a house and a sheddy dog. I do what I can, with a weather eye toward whatever serenity I can muster.

And sometimes, all I need is a change of perspective. A lumpy swatch can, with the addition of a small chain, become a washcloth.

Although I don't usually ever knit washcloths, if I add some gorgeous handmade soap, then next Christmas is taken care of for lots of friends and family, depending on how many times I swatch. I'm ahead!

When I got home, I realized that sometimes, being right where I am is okay, and sitting in the moment is all it takes. Sometimes I need a bit of a reminder, though, just like this:


Janis said...

She is an angel.

A said...

what a face!

I worked on that same lace pattern (pretty sure Dainty Bess sounds familiar) a few months ago and abandoned it in favor of my sanity. So, go, you!