Knitters turn to yarn for myriad things: a source of inspiration, as a creative outlet, to satisfy a need to buy something new, to celebrate, and to be comforted. We flock to yarn shops to feel sheltered from the harsh realities of life, connect with others who speak our language and to gain inspiration. We pick up our yarn and needles and create something new, imbuing each stitch with a small piece of ourselves.
To hold something small and beautiful in one’s hands is to experience a bit of peace while the world whooshes by around you. The soft fibers, multifaceted colors, and sometimes even the fragrance of a beautiful yarn can transport you to a place of peace, if even just for a moment.
The first time I learned to knit, it was just yarn, a couple of pointy sticks, and a kind-hearted friend who wanted to show me what knitting was all about. I clumsily knit a few rows, and forged ahead into a long, bumpy, orange acrylic scarf. It was a puzzle to be solved, and I did it. But the work didn’t resonate with me.
It wasn’t until I moved to a new state and started trying to get pregnant that knitting turning into a social act of creativity, a meditation, and a way to control something in my life where so many other areas felt out of control.
It was around this time that I started knitting with earnest. Starting over meant that I needed to meet people, get out of the house, and learn about the area. Something compelled me to seek out a knitting group, and I quickly found myself at a local Stitch ‘n Bitch meet up.
It was here that I first felt the true wonder and delight of knitting.
For months I fumbled around with yarn and needles, learning through my mistakes and eventually getting better at the skill of knitting. At the same time, we began seeing a fertility specialist and upped our efforts at getting me pregnant.
I knew with all of my heart that I was meant to be a mother. I was young, healthy, and we had the space in our lives for children. It seemed as if things would go as we had planned, and that within the year we would be taking turns getting up in the middle of the night to feed and change diapers.
Fast-forward a year. I was still not pregnant, with no indications as to why. The fact that our perfectly crafted plan wasn’t working out was beginning to take its toll on me. As was the fact that several close friends had given birth to beautiful babies with apparently no struggles to get pregnant.
As I accepted more and more medical interventions into my life, I began to depend more on my knitting for support. Holding yarn and needles in my hands, creating something tangible and beautiful, allowed me to feel as if I had some semblance of control over my life. I may not be able to make a baby on my own, but I could knit a gorgeous pair of booties or a stunning baby blanket for dear friends having babies.
When the world doesn’t make sense, take matters into your own hands and create something. Anything.
I knit in the waiting rooms of doctor’s offices while I waited for tests, exams, procedures, and results. I knit during the simultaneously dreadful and hopeful two-week wait, a time where I once again allowed myself to believe that I was pregnant. I knit through the sadness and disappointment that followed every month when the pregnancy test came back negative.
After our supposed final try at getting pregnant, I was at knitting group trying to distract myself from wondering about test results. My wife called me on the phone and told me the good news: “You’re pregnant!” I could hardly believe that those powerful words were directed at me, that after years of trying, I finally had the tentative first weeks of life inside my body. My tired, battered, body had responded to drugs and yoga and chocolate and had come through for me!
As was customary, some of the ladies from my knitting group went to the neighboring yarn shop after our meeting. I followed along, in a daze of disbelief. So many thoughts were racing through my mind. I could hardly focus on anything, and yet my hand kept reaching out, feeling skein after skein of yarn. At once, a beautiful skein of sock yarn jumped out at me. It was mainly a cream color, punctuated by delicate shades of green and lavender. The color combination reminded me of an orchid; I had to have it.
Celebratory yarn purchases are some of the best!
Unfortunately, this pregnancy did not last. My first ultrasound, a moment I had so been looking forward to, revealed an empty uterus. Devastated and raw, we returned home and began the long process of grieving and rebuilding. Words could not describe what I was going through to anyone, and though I desperately needed help and care, I didn’t know what to ask for.
Eventually, I turned to my knitting.
There was that lovely skein of sock yarn sitting in my stash, the pretty orchid colorway, my celebration yarn. For some reason, this was the only yarn I was able to get excited about knitting.
Instead of socks, I chose to knit something that I could wrap around myself; something that would remind me to have hope and faith that life would be bright again someday. I found a pattern for a lovely drop stitch scarf that seemed doable with just one skein of yarn and set to work.
I knit all my hope, love, sadness, anger and grief into that scarf. It flew off the needles, and when it was done something within me, something small and tender, was healed. There was still a long road of healing ahead of us, but for that moment, I knew I would be all right.
The next several months were a time of healing, restructuring my expectations, and focusing on knitting. I rediscovered a love of writing, and tried my hand at designing knitting patterns. After taking time to heal and rebuild, we felt ready to try again.
And this time, it worked!
When I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I took that drop stitch scarf, made out of my celebration yarn turned comfort yarn, and undid the cast off. I wound it into a ball straight off the scarf, spinning new hope into it with each revolution of the ball winder.
That “new” skein sat in my stash for all the months of this pregnancy as I waited and hoped for a better outcome. When I went into labor, I pulled out the yarn and brought it with me to the hospital. This time, it wanted to be socks; special celebration socks. As I worked through the first few hours of labor, I knit my special yarn and thought about my daughter.
For many of us, knitting isn’t just about making things with yarn. It’s about expressing ourselves, crafting a creative legacy. It’s about creating something from nothing, with our own hands and imagination. It’s about telling a story. It’s about showing someone our love. It’s about seeing the potential in raw materials.
Knitting is about pursuing happiness.
For me, I’m never more connected to my creative spirit than when I am creating. Knitting is the main way I feel that connection, but there are infinite ways. Find yours and give it everything you have.
Happiness is living in the potential.