Last week was one of those weeks that thankfully don’t come along very often, because if they did, I don’t think I’d still be in one piece.
Some of it was good - meeting a new friend, a catch-up with an old friend, and two quilt commissions confirmed.
And some of it was bad - a trip to the emergency vet for the pup, a fire in the furnace, a broken washing machine, roofing problems and major scheduling snafus. A whole lotta stress packed into a few short days.
So when Sunday afternoon came along and Caton had a soccer game at a far-flung field an hour away, I filled a bag with plenty to keep me busy on the ride out there, during the 30-minute warm-up, and during half time. I had reading, sewing supplies, sketching supplies, and on a whim I tossed in my “knitting.”
But the fact is, I don’t knit. I don’t crochet either, for that matter.
Instead I do this crazy hybrid-thing called “knooking.” (I know, sounds suggestive, doesn’t it?!?)
I truly envy all the women (and men) I see with needles or hook in their hands, the yarn gliding through their fingers, loops and twists moving from one end to the other with effortless ease. They make it look like something even I could do.
And maybe I could, but I’ve learned to knit and crochet in the past and it’s never stuck. I struggle with the needles in my hands, holding the hook and the yarn and not getting it tangled or not making my stitches too loose or too tight. I’m sure I could improve with practice, but my heart’s not in the prospect of spending time on those skills.
But even so, I knook. It’s a cross between knitting and crochet and it requires only two stitches. Except I keep it even simpler than that and only do one stitch. One stitch, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth some more as the rows grow longer and longer. All I can do is make simple scarves, nothing more. And I’m totally OK with that.
Because the reason I knook is that it’s perfectly portable and I can do it with just the right amount of attention and thought. It’s not completely mindless because I do have to look at where I put the hook each time (I know someone with more experience could easily do it without looking, but that’s totally not me), where the yarn is going, and how much tension I use. I have to stop and count my stitches every few rows to make sure things aren’t going askew. I find the repetitive rhythms of hook and yarn to be very soothing and satisfying. The quiet counting in my head is grounding. It’s perfect in the way it requires some of my attention but there’s still enough left to participate in what’s around me.
So for Sunday’s long afternoon of soccer I was prepared with tons of things I could do, some with looming deadlines that I should start getting caught up on. But once we got out there and the boys all hit the field for warm-ups and I was left alone in the car, I took the chance to sit in the peace and quiet for a while and enjoy the warm sun. It was a good way to reflect on the insanity of the last week and try to put myself in a better frame of mind for the coming week.
After I made my way to the field, I found myself rooting through my bag for my knooking. Everything else I’d brought along, all the other things that really needed my attention, all fell secondary to sitting on the sidelines with hook and yarn in my hands, counting stitch after stitch, row after row.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.
Over and over and over again.
Until I felt the stress of the past week finally start to dissolve. Knook, check, count, breathe. Knook, check, count, breath.
Over and over and over again.
My stitches were a bit wonky, it’s been many many months since I’ve worked on a knooking project - this one was started over 18 months ago in fact. It wasn’t a smooth re-entry by any means - my yarn got snagged and my fingers fumbled more often than things went smoothly.
But it did occupy my mind, my lizard brain, the part of me that wanted to hold onto all the problems from the previous week and ruminate. So between soccer plays, as my hook went in and my yarn went around, I could feel myself reestablishing a rhythm. A rhythm to my stitching, a rhythm to my life. I worked my way back to my own center. The motions grew more familiar and more comfortable and my fingers began to move a little more smoothly.
I finally started to feel like myself again.
It was a process of reconnecting to a previous point in my life. Knooking has never been effortless for me but it has been easier for me before today.
Which is a lot like life itself - it’s never effortless. But along with the more difficult phases that we have to work through come the sweet spots too, the ones we have to hold onto during our troubled spells.
Because life really is what you make of it.