Toward autonomy

As I am prone to do, I lost an issue of Piecework I wanted to re-read, so I ordered a new one from the publisher. It was last March’s, with the story about the Weavette looms, and it started me on my little side trip into the world of the pin loom. I now have two, though I haven’t found time to work with the smaller one (the one that is closest to the original Weavette). If you haven’t tried this craft, I recommend it. It’s a great stash-buster, and easier than breathing once you get going on it. Mine come from Hazel Rose Looms. More on that another time.

Anyhow, my replacement issue came today, and in addition to the article about the Weavettes, there was also an article I remembered about a woman who managed to get herself, her family, and her knitting machine out of Latvia during the Russian Revolution, and then out of Bavaria before WWII. The family eventually settled in Canada and endured hardships most of us will never have the misfortune to know. I admire the hell out of that–her whole story, really. Her husband admitted that she was the one with the head for business, she was the one who made money knitting custom-order sweaters and other items, between doing menial jobs. Isn’t that amazing? That’s what knitting can do. She even had enough saved in her old age to take herself to Hawaii (she’d wanted to go back to Latvia, but her daughter talked her out of it, saying that there was nothing left of the old country). It really makes you think about what you need to be satisfied and comfortable in life. Even now, when many of us have been pinched for a long time, we can still make do with less, and less, and less.

I don’t fool myself that I’m self-reliant. I’d like to be, but like most people, I’m dependent to one degree or another. But stories like this woman’s remind me that we never really know what’s coming along. They were prosperous in Latvia. Forces beyond their control uprooted them twice, and they were lucky to escape with their lives. I read that and I ask myself, could I do it? It’s cold here. Could I provide for my family? Could I keep us warm? And I think…yeah, maybe I could do that much. Until yarn supplies ran out, anyhow. This is why (she says defensively) one keeps a huge stash. When the apocalypse is nigh, we will have warm socks!

I hope I never have to know, though. Only a fool would want to know firsthand whether s/he could survive in a desperate situation. Plenty of people didn’t. And plenty of those people could knit. Still, it’s something to hang on to. I can do something–something useful and beautiful–with my hands. I’m not an island, but neither am I useless. Of course, it depends on the nature of the disaster. Knitting skills are virtually useless for the zombie apocalypse. Unless I can make nets to catch them so that the gun-toting can shoot them. Hmm.

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