Friday, February 21, 2014


Warning, this is not a fun post about knitting.  This is an emotional post about knitting.

I bit my nails as a child.  So when I was 10, and Kim was 17, our mother signed us for knitting lessons one town over.  She even let Kim drive us there and back but of course we had to call and check in.

So I learned how to knit.  I liked the rhythmic aspect of it.  Kim is more free-form and she didn't take to it.  That's fine; our mother thought it was a life skill like typing and sewing and so we learned.  It also helped me stop biting my nails.

So I knit my way through 5th through 8th grades.  I went to a Catholic school and made a sweater for my uniform.  I made gifts and loved to knit.  As some of you may know, we had no freedoms as children, and so while reading was Kim's escape, knitting was mine (at that time).

I entered high school and still knit.  I also could sew and I made some of my clothes.  I had unique things and I grew up in the era of Pretty in Pink, so people got the concept of self-designed clothing.  I made my first quilt in the summer of 1986, after breaking up with my boyfriend.  (As an aside, we have reconnected via social media and he has just learned to quilt.  I remind him to enjoy the process.  He can be hard on himself regarding his art.  He is, as he is with all his art, talented.)

I entered college and I was a train commuter student doing the reverse commute from Chicagoland to the far western suburbs.  I continued to sew, modifying styles (more pants, less skirts) for commuting.  I quilted more and knit less.  I had moved into afghans; I was done with sweaters for a while.   I will state that with the exception of the sweater I made as part of my school uniform, all the yarn I had was acrylic.  100% acrylic.  No good stuff.

So I am in my last year of college.  My father had left, my sister had left (more like driven away in both cases) and I was left with my now dying mother.  She was never a very nice person and made it very clear as time went on that her life had been a big waste and all of us were to blame for that.  I would like to note that my father has NEVER impeded anyone from pursing their dreams.  This was even noted in his eulogy, how strong this trait was in him.  So anyway, I reach Christmas 1991.

Christmas has never been a fun holiday.  As a child I remember the one sided screaming machine of my mother being upset having to see my dad's side of the family.  I remember her desire for the holiday to be perfect and so we had to stay up past midnight every Christmas.  I vividly remember being sick half of my Christmases (which has been confirmed by Kim) and Kim opening my presents (a source of humor now).  I *hated* Christmas.  2 weeks at home cooped up with an angry woman.  She forbade Kim and I to speak to each other, because we would gang up on her and she wasn't having that.

So we are at Christmas 1991.  I know my mother's time on this earth was measured; I worked like mad to make her an afghan.  I figured I could cover her with love.  And I did finish it.  And a few days before Christmas, she said,

"I didn't get anything for you for Christmas, so you can't give me anything."

She knew.  And she ruined it.  Shortly thereafter she said the only reason I knit was to draw attention to myself, to show off what I had made.

And thus ended my knitting.  I stopped cold.  She made me learn a skill, funded the stash, accepted my gifts, wore them, and in a fit of upper-handed rage, cut me down.  It cut me to the core.

I do not want to hear she suffered from mental illness, I don't want to hear about cancer.  I want everyone to know she knowingly said hateful things to her children because she got off on making people feel horrible.  I have lots of examples.  This one pertains to knitting.  People like to tell me it wasn't her speaking; it was the disease.  I really don't care.  I WANT MY FEELINGS VALIDATED.  I am entitled to those feelings and they hurt.

So I packed up my yarn and my needles and moved it all 3 times.  When I arrived here in central Illinois, I went through the stash yarn and donated it all.  I kept the tools - needles, etc.

In spring 2011, just after I finished my MBA, I took a beginning crochet class.  I loved it.  I went and bought yarn and yarn and yarn and sets of hooks.  Yes, it was 100% acrylic stuff, but it was wonderful to be happy with yarn again.  I've made some afghans and potholders.  One class assignment was a set of different potholders in various shapes.  I gave them to my dad for his apartment.  He loved them.  I made some fashion scarves and some winter scarves.  I was working with yarn again.

And then I found Ravelry.  Whoo boy.

And I decided that I would knit again, but only the good stuff.  Unique stuff.  Good yarns, quality workmanship, stitched with love.  I bought some nice stuff from The Loopy Ewe.  Some red, some fun dyed stuff and some other fun dyed stuff.

And now I am trying to make some socks.  Man, it's been a long time.

And while Christmas this year was hard because we knew it was Dad's last, I finally have begun to enjoy Christmas again.  I give full credit to my husband and my child who have worked with me through all of this.

And off I go.  I have no idea what a provisional cast on it, but I need some waste yarn to do it.  So off I go.

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