Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sometimes I Knits and Thinks, and Sometimes I Just Knits

Sometimes, I get lost in the rhythm of the needles and the feel of the yarn as it glides through my fingers. The pattern becomes my mantra as I focus only on what my hands are doing. “Knit one, purl three, knit two, purl four,” I chant out loud. To myself. The world around me becomes softened and blurred like an out-of-focus photograph and the sharp edges of the day become rounded and smooth. It’s only me, the needles and the yarn working together to make something pretty.

Sometimes, though, the gentle click of the needles as they tap against each other becomes a soft drum-beat, keeping rhythm for my thoughts. No longer a mantra, the pattern becomes more like a song playing on a radio that has the volume turned way down low; just a quiet murmur in the background. Once again, the world melts away. Only now, my fingers move as if they don’t need me telling them what to do; it’s the needles, the yarn and my hands that are creating, and my mind is free to wander down whatever path it chooses. I think about what I’m going to cook for supper, how much cuter the dog looks with her new haircut, why won’t my sister clean up her house?! I write, solve problems and plan our lives while I’m sitting there, looking for all the world like I’m just knitting.

It was this thinkin’ kind of knittin’ that I did a few Saturdays back. There was nothing going on that needed my attention. The animals had been fed and watered and let out and back in. And out and in again. The house was clean and tidy. Anna was out of town and JD3 was on the couch watching something on TV. Well, he looked like he was watching TV, except his eyes were closed and coming from somewhere around his head was a noise that sounded a lot like a lawn mower about to run out of gas. I headed off to my room to knit, thankful for the me time

The sun shining through the window cast a pale, golden light on the bed. The only noise in the room was the sound of my way-cool, retro-style fan; it was turned on low and positioned so that just a whisper of a breeze would blow onto my face. I climbed up on my high, black iron bed, folded my legs under me and leaned back on pillow cases softened by many trips through the spin cycle. For one precious minute, I just sat there and snuggled in the quiet and peacefulness that wrapped around me. Even the ugly pink walls didn’t seem quite so ugly. I leaned over to my bedside table and picked up my latest knitting project, a gift for a dear friend. As I ran my hands over Friday night’s stitches, I thought again about how much I liked this red yarn. I began the next row with “Knit three“ And I started to think.

I thought about how my newest writing adventure is coming together almost by itself; how the characters are so real and warm and funny, and how they seem to want me to tell their story! This is different from my usual writing and bigger than anything I’ve ever done before. Even though I know it’s not going to land me on any best-seller list, I’m pretty darned excited about it.

I’ve been writing for a long time. In high school and college I wrote essays, research papers and short stories. When I was an angst-ridden twenty-something, I had stacks and stacks of journals (actually spiral-bound composition books) that bared my soul to, well, no one, because I wouldn’t let anybody read them! But my soul was bared, none-the-less. As a Nursing Supervisor, I wrote policies and procedures. As a young mother, I had great fun making up super silly stories that were sure to have Anna burbbling with laughter, making the glorious sound that only little girls can make and that makes a mama’s heart melt like butter sittin’ on a warm stove.

All along, hidden away on a dusty shelf in the back of my mind, was the idea that maybe, someday, I could write something that the whole world might like to read. Over the years, encouraged by my one and only fan and critic (aka Anna) I would take that idea down and play with it for a little while. But Fear and Insecurity, old pals of mine, would snatch it out of my hands and put it right back on that shelf. “What if you fail?” they would say. “Nobody in your family even knows you want to do something like this. What if they laugh at you?” Convinced that they knew best, I would leave it where they put it and head off in pursuit of some other creative outlet.

“So why do you think you can do it now?” you ask. “Why do you think you can take that idea down, dust it off and make it into something shiny and pretty? What brought you from the town of No-Way-In-Hell to the quaint little village of I-Think-I-Can?” Well, the short answer is knitting, satellite TV and the internet. But you know me. I’m going to give you the long answer, too!

When I was a little girl, we lived in a neighborhood where all of the mothers stayed home and practiced the philosophy of “it takes a village to raise a child.” Because all of the children played together, the mothers being played together, too. (Except for that bleached-blonde hussy that lived down the street!) When they weren’t cleaning house, fixin’ supper or passin’ out Kool-Aid to yet another thirsty child, who may or may not have been their own, they crafted together. And for a time, their favorite craft was knitting those cute little bedroom slippers; the ones with the fuzzy, bobbly pom-poms on top. They all used the same pattern and most of them used the same yarn; but each lady had her own way with the pom-poms or the length of the toe or the top edge that set hers apart from the others .

We didn’t care how cute or creatively unique they were. We just knew they made great skates for sliding across hardwood floors. And we wanted to make our own! I don’t know why she did it. It might have been a rainy afternoon and she had to either give us something to do or kill us; or it might have been that she just had some extra time that day. Whatever the reason (I tend to favor the rainy day theory,) Mama taught us all how to knit. Even the boys. Now, truth be told, none of us ever made a pair of slippers; in fact, most of the kids never even got past casting on, which is how you get the very first stitches on the needle. But I had learned a new craft. For most of my adult years, it was a sometime pastime. About 5 years ago, the needles and I took our relationship to the next level, as they say, and began a passionate love affair.

During those early days of Kool-Aid drinking and hardwood floor skating, my sisters and I almost never watched TV. Oh, we watched Captain Kangaroo in the mornings and on very special occasions, we were allowed to stay up past our 8:00PM bedtime and watch Family Affair. But it wasn’t a big part of our lives. Then, when I was 10, we moved from Small Town, USA to Teeny Bit Bigger Town, USA and got cablevision! Suddenly, we had a lot of TV that we could watch. AND we could stay up later and were allowed to watch more shows! We could watch The Brady Bunch every time it came on, not just on special occasions! And it got better and better. We got HBO and later, MTV! For twenty-plus years, I had the TV world at my fingertips.

Then I got married and moved to the country. Where we had no cable! Where we had no antenna! Where we had almost no programming for our viewing pleasure! With the help of our VCR, we persevered about 3 long years before we decided enough is enough, and got a satellite dish. Oh, it was wonderful! Suddenly, we had choices again! It was like going to country buffet after being on a low-cal, low-fat, no-taste diet and being told you could eat all of the biscuits and gravy you could hold.

It was then that I discovered craft and decorating shows. My new anthem became, “I Can Do That!” and Carol Duval became my hero. She even had shows that featured, (gasping with delight,) knitting! When I wasn’t going to be home, I’d set the VCR and, later, the DVR (when cable finally came to the backwoods) to record m’shows so I wouldn’t miss a single idea-spawning episode. Life was good! We had each other, we had our health, we had a roof over our heads and food to eat, and we had HGTV! What more did we need?!

As it turned out, we needed a computer. Somehow, in spite of my best efforts to keep it from happening, Anna had grown up and started to school. They were teaching computer skills in class and sometimes assigned homework that required the use of one. After a day at work, I was usually tired and irritable and did not enjoy schlepping back to town in search of an available CPU and it’s buddies so that she could do that homework. We did, however, want our little soon-to-be computer geek to do well. So, when our income tax refund came, we paid a visit to the Gateway store.

From the minute it came in the back door, I hated it. It was ugly and took up way, way too much space in my kitchen. I hated the amount of time JD3 spent parked in front of it. I hated that I couldn’t figure the darn thing out after sitting there for 5 whole minutes. I. Just. Hated it. And it knew I hated it. So it hated me back. It would snarl at me. Really, it would; it never made those noises at JD3. Or it would just sit there and not do a blessed thing while I frantically pushed keys trying to get it to respond. We had declared war on each other! I finally decided that if I couldn’t get this hateful piece of technology to work for me, I’d just stick with my trusty TV!

The thing was, repeatedly during my favorite shows, I would hear the host say, “For more information, check out our website.” Over and over again, I heard it. And sometimes, I needed that “more information.” I needed to know where I could get the double-sided tape that would stick Jello to the wall. I needed a step-by-step pattern for knitting a car. I NEEDED THAT INFORMATION! I had to have access.

So I negotiated a truce with the computer. With the help of husband and daughter, I learned how to connect to the internet. I learned to Yahoo and google. And I learned how to find all the information I needed by “checking their websites.” One day while I was checking the HGTV site, I discovered they had forums! And a whole special little forum dedicated to knitting and crocheting. I could go there and talk with other knitters. I could ask questions and get answers right away. Or I could answer someone else’s questions. It became part of my routine to “check the board” every day.

One day, when I found that nothing new was happening on the knitting board , I decided to check out the decorating board. I was instantly hooked. It was all about feathering your nest; they discussed which paint was best and what color was hot and how to make curtains that wouldn’t cost you a kidney. They even had pictures! Pictures of the most beautiful homes, from big mansions to tiny cottages. It was a very active board with oodles of new posts and pictures every day. I added this forum to my Favorites list and when I checked the knitting board every day, I checked here too.

One day, I clicked on a link that took me to a place that would change my life. Now, I know that it sounds a bit melodramatic and more than just a bit weird to say that an internet decorating forum 'changed my life.' But it did.
It was so much more than decorating. As I said here, I met some amazing people and made some really good friends with whom I have laughed and cried and worried and rejoiced; friends that I love and that I hope will always be a part of my life.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” you say. “You found this wonderful place with these amazing women and you’ve grown to really love some of them and you hope they love you back and yadda, yadda, yadda. What does that have to do with what you’re talking about now?!” Well, I’ll tell you. It was here, in this wonderful place, that I discovered blogs, those wonderful little mini- web sites where ordinary people like me could write about almost anything and publish it for the whole world, (or at least a teeny tiny little part of it,) to read. How had I missed this?!

I also discovered that two of those amazing women - you know, the ones that I’ve really grown to love and who I hope love me back - were bloggers.
They were writing about their daily lives and the things that were important to them and, by doing so, were sharing themselves with me. It was wonderful. And I wanted to do it, too. I was taking that idea off of the shelf and I was going to write.

Inspired by my friends, I went to the hosting site, set up my blog and wrote my first entry. Because I admired these women so much, they were the first ones (except JD3 and Anna) that I invited to read it. More than a wee bit nervous, I waited on their responses. When they came, warm and encouraging, it was like Santa had finally brought me that pony that I’d always wanted. Thinking that if they liked it, others would, too, I made it public.

And here I am, ready to take that big step and write about something other than myself. Because of the encouragement I’ve gotten from one of those dear friends and my own sweet daughter, I actually think I can do it. Fear and Insecurity are going to have to find somebody else to bother.

Did I get to this place in my life as a result of a random series of every day events? Or were those everyday events part of a plan to get me to this exact point in my life? I don‘t have an answer for that one. I guess what really matters is that, after all of these years, I’m here. It’s like Douglas Adams said, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

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BeeMusing by Beverly Lane is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.