I still live!


I’m teaching more than usual this fall, and the workload snowed me under. Fork on another crisis or two and the aftermath of the last one, and I collapse into bed every night and limp to the finish every week. This is a temporary situation, I know, but I do long for a time in my life when temporary situations last a few hours or a week at most, rather than for months and possibly years. Viewed that way, this whole life is a temporary situation, and I am not yet at an age where I can think to myself, boy, it’ll sure be a relief when this is over.

I’ve been knitting. I’m 3/4 of the way through a pair of Phalangees in the green-and-gray colorway, which are coming out nicely even if I’m having trouble keeping my gauge loose enough. I’m also 3/4 done with the Hudson’s Bay blanket and aiming to put that one under the tree for the baby’s Christmas. Though I know he’ll never know the difference, it still helps me to be motivated by the deadline. I spent a lot of hours knitting that blanket while my husband was in the hospital last spring, and it’s something I feel like will be an important part of my younger son’s history. It’s occurred to me more than once that he won’t ever remember what his dad was like before the stroke. To him, there is only After. I hope he isn’t affected by such an unsettled year as we’ve had. It’s been tough on the kids, to be sure. We work hard to make everything steady and routine and unworrisome, but they know. They see. It can’t not be scary. I’d have been scared when I was their age. My older son worries, I know, but it never comes out as worry. It comes out as severe irritation that owing to Hurricane Sandy, trick-or-treating will be this Saturday instead of tonight.

I’m not feeling the Halloween this year. I usually like it better, but between the storm and unscheduled hospital time, I’ve got enough real fear happening that I don’t need to make any up. But I don’t think I’m going to have any trouble with Thankful Month. Or Tongue Awareness Month, depending on whether you observe (though it’s almost impossible not to…now).

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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.