Knitter or Crocheter?

Every now and again, on forums or in groups I’m part of, the question is asked – knitter or crocheter? I usually ignore it altogether because I am both, and it’s too hard to choose just one. They’re both ‘pieces of me’ and I enjoy them at different times, through different phases of life; for me, the where/when/why is irrelevant because, as with most skills/talents, we need each at different times, for different reasons and duration. However, when the question was asked today, via Melody of Melody’s Makings (http://melodys-makings.com/), I decided to answer because she said she hoped I’d answer her email (after I signed up for her newsletter) as she enjoys meeting new friends. Poor woman’s probably still reading my emailed answer to her simple question: Knitter or Crocheter? 🙂

What I’ve written below is fairly close to the answer I sent Melody. That one simple question sent me on yet another journey of, if not quite self-discovery, then something close to it.

I used to primarily be a knitter, believing there were far prettier items created that way 🙂 Then, four years ago, I had to stop working. I’d mainly managed a training organisation, but did other things as well to utilise my skills/qualifications – teaching, writing, editing… Due to disabilities caused by arthritis (under the umbrella of fibromyalgia) finally ganging up on me, I ceased most of that. While physically I saw the benefit of not pushing my body further, mentally I suffered immensely. I didn’t know who I was supposed to be, what I was supposed to do with the loooooooooooooong ‘retirement’ stretching out in front of me (I was only forty-four years old at the time). I’ve always been a doer, a reacher. So it was HARD to stop doing, stop reaching. So hard that I was first prescribed antidepressants then anxiety medication – all because I couldn’t figure out what to do with the endlessly long days I was living – given that my children had recently grown to the point of setting up their own homes, and it was now just my husband and myself at home. In fact, empty nest syndrome struck almost simultaneously with ‘retirement’ so it’s no wonder I was such a mess. I still believe I was born to parent and lead by example. So, not being able to do either in the ways I’d previously done them played with my head extensively. All my qualifications, the years I’d put into studying for them, and the sacrifices my family made to accommodate my desire to position myself as a (probably over-qualified over-achiever) business manager were for nothing. Yes, ‘woe is me’ set in big time 🙂

I kept trying to find another direction, one where I can still use the skills and qualifications I have, and I still do try to think of what that direction might be – my heart’s desire is writing, in case that isn’t obvious 🙂 However, any time I dip my feet back in the water (e.g. I’ve just come home from two weeks away supervising midyear university examinations) I am sharply reminded of my physical limitations as I live with this insidious, largely invisible disability – I dodge using my cane anytime I can as I never have liked attracting notice, as if limping about draws less attention…

Back to the question: knitter or crocheter? Many years ago, as a young stay at home mum, I’d been a prolific knitter, and I occasionally crocheted granny squares into blankets. Thank god for those long-held skills! It was only rediscovering this former love (I was that geeky gal who always had and carried projects everywhere!) that saved my dwindling sanity.

At first, I returned to knitting, hoping to occupy my mind, motivate me to do something/anything other than sleep or cry. And it worked! Gradually, I regained enough ‘me’ to start finding other things I enjoy and can do without damaging my body further or giving it the chance to remind me (pain levels) of imposed limits. I still get those reminders any time I’m dumb enough to overreach, but because of knitting/crocheting I also know I can still do. Knitting led into searching the internet for patterns, discovering a world I didn’t know existed wherein not only patterns came my way but also friendships, examples of others’ abilities to freely share their knowledge, patterns even. Further, discovering that world led to removing the blinkers where crocheting is concerned! I now consider myself more of a crocheter than a knitter – my twenty year old self would once have cringed at that, but she’s since been reeducated through all the beautiful, inspiring patterns out there in the wide space that the web is. It truly is artful what can be created, isn’t it, out of a ball/skein of wool/yarn? I still love knitting, and will do the odd project depending on the final product’s beauty (the more intricate the pattern, the better), but I love the speed with which you can create something out of nothing when you crochet – again, the more intricate the pattern the better, as far as I’m concerned.

Because of the internet I also have two filing cabinets (four drawers) full of both knit and crochet patterns. More projects than I’ll ever be able to complete. My brain says it’s madness to continue ‘researching’ more patterns, but it’s a bit like the yarn debate, isn’t it, over where the stop point should be, and if we even need one? 🙂 However, I do limit myself to those two cabinets and recently sifted through them to reduce bulk. I was amazed at how my tastes have changed over just four years. I guess it was a necessary sift and reduce. But I won’t be doing so again until space becomes tight. That process altered how I look at patterns on the internet – I assess them more critically now and decide before buying if there is at least a slim chance I will make the item. After all, it’s not as if my daughter will take over the collection when I’m gone – fodder for a bonfire, I imagine. 🙂

Recently, I gave designing a try. So far, I’ve made my granddaughter a lacy jumper, a scarf, a bag for my tablet, some flowers, and many things that didn’t make it to fruition… Yes, it truly is fun, but more importantly it’s a great way to engage my mind.

As I indulge in my self-administered therapy of knitting/crocheting/designing, I dream directions. I play with ideas of where I want to be in x amount of years, what I might be doing, how I might earn better income than a disability pension provides, while playing with yarn, patterns, designs of my own or others. It’s much better than either sleeping or crying 🙂 I should have mentioned earlier these crafts (and the internet) have seen me stop taking antidepressants and anxiety medications. Yay!

I’m posting this rambling tale for others temporarily lacking clear direction, as am I, re the where/when/how. Sometimes you just have to breathe, give it time, occupy time and space in whatever way gives you direction, even if it’s not your ultimate direction. All road’s truly do lead to Rome, and we can’t know at the outset what will happen on the way to lead us toward the direction. I don’t believe we ever end up exactly where we thought we would – the journey, not our mind, determines the destination. And the destination isn’t final until our last breath – longer if you believe in ‘after.’

Knitting/crocheting (See? I still can’t choose between the two.) have given my mind ease enough that I simply breathe and follow each thought of direction calmly instead of the manic panic it was once tortured with. They’ve also taken away (always a work in progress) negative thoughts that undervalue me as a person now that I’m unemployed. I WILL work again, though I’m not sure when/how/where right now, but in the meantime I am occupied meaningfully. I can’t quite ‘give in’ enough to accept that this is my all; one day I will find my journey, my direction. I refuse to suffer mentally as a result of physical challenges. More and more I am drawn to writing, can imagine losing myself in that world – until my husband drags me from it into the ‘real’ world as he did just now (he’s hungry) 🙂 I have knitting/crocheting to thank for my sanity, my inner peace, and I do thank them with all my heart and mind. They pulled me from a much darker place and therefore are the point at which my new journey began – a journey that at present seems without a destination, but I’m going to enjoy all that I can of it regardless.

And now, to appease a hungry husband…

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