Some days I feel powerless. There are so many pieces of life that are outside of my domain: will it be rainy, and will my car spill over the edge of the twisted road as I drive to work? When I get where I’m going, will I find happy, helpful, kind people around me? Maybe today will be the day my bosses decide to reward my hard work with a promotion (although lately I’ve been spending many work hours blogging – all part of my carefully cultivated strategy of “failing upward” that can be so successful out here in LA). Maybe today will be the day that The Baron decides he’s ready to make a bigger commitment to our relationship. It’s difficult to feel so estranged from the sources of my own happiness. I know, of course, that I have to look within myself if I want to see joy or helm my own ship or dance the tango of one and be the change I want to see in the “secret” pop-psychology blah blah blah. I really do know all that. But there are times when I just want to be pouty . . . because I want things, lots of things, that only other people can give me.
These are the times when I turn . . . wait for it, wait for it . . . yes, when I turn to my knitting. I look at a ball of yarn and I see potential energy there – and when I pick up my sticks and start making knots the energy becomes kinetic. The knit-purl-knit motion, soothing unto itself, is an intense act of artistic creation, but it’s unlike most other endeavors. A piece of cloth, once cut, cannot be un-cut, and the potential becomes permanent after the scissors forge their kinetic path against the fibers. A stroke of paint can be covered over, or blended into something else, but it can rarely be wiped completely clean. Yarn is different. The magic of the spit-splice endows a single strand with the possibility of infinite length. A sweater, once knit, can be quickly unraveled and needs only a lukewarm bath and an afternoon in the sun to return to infancy as a simple, smooth skein and a second or third life as socks or a scarf. My favorite part is that each stitch, each detail, each yarn-over or cable twist or knit-two-together is a supple part of a pliant whole. I might not be able to control my tension perfectly on the first try, or I might not like the look of a particular stitch or pattern or outcome. I have little more control over knitting than I do over anything else in my life, save for one powerful tool: the ability to rip out every single crimp I’ve made and start again.
It’s a small thing, this destructive control I have over my own creations. But on a day like today, when nothing else seems to be within the dim sphere of my influence, it’s what I’m clinging to.