Posted by: Kate | June 10, 2010

Ohhhh, That Feels Good

…no, not that, you sex-minded people.

OK, yeah, that, too. We have recently re-entered that particular realm of adult relationships, despite still-present damages to my relevant bits from the surgeries and internal injuries and ongoing recovery. There was also very deep and not-without-reason fear regarding my ability to fully, shall we say, benefit from said relations. Surgically-induced menopause, combined with multiple healing sites, plus hormonal upheaval on a tectonic scale and emotions scattered all over the place: It’s an equation that doesn’t seem like it would equal fireworks, you know? And it didn’t, the first few tries. But add in two beers in a night (considering that I’ve had no more than a single glass of wine at a time since several months before I got pregnant… well, I’m a cheap date) and serious determination, and, yes. Amen.

For the non-gutter-minded readers, and following my actual intent behind the title, it’s about knitting. I think I might just have rediscovered my knitting mojo, and my gawd, does that feel good. It was gone, when I was in the hospital. I recall, quite clearly, whispering to Willem, as they were about to wheel me out to board the helicopter for my ten-minutes-in-rush-hour commute to Boston, “Don’t let them take my hands.” I was thinking primarily about the importance of touching my babies, whether it be cuddling Isaac close and tracing the curve of his cheek, or holding Jacob’s hand while we cross the street (and shhhh, don’t tell him that big kids tend to hold the entire hand; he still holds just one finger, toddler-style, and it just melts my heart), or stroking the back of Emily’s neck while we read a bedtime story.

I was also thinking of knitting, of the calm I get when I settle into a repetitive stretch or the zing of challenge when faced with a complicated chart, of the sense of pride and productivity when I’ve watched an hour of television and have an inch more of sweater dangling from the needles, of the fact that it brought me in touch with Gretchen: a stranger in 2006 and I’ll be a member of her wedding party in August. It’s generally such a sociable sort of hobby, since you can knit and maintain sufficient eye contact to appear polite at the same time. “Don’t let them take my hands,” please don’t let them take such an important aspect of my life away from me.

But then, as I lay there in a hospital bed, I couldn’t knit. They had removed the restraints from my wrists within a day of my regaining consciousness, so in theory I could have started to knit while still in the ICU. In reality, I had what they called an action tremor, brought on by the prolonged period of complete immobility during the coma. Turns out, your cerebellum doesn’t much like staying that still for that long, and it tends to overcorrect once you start moving again. I was told I had a mild tremor; funny how things don’t feel so mild when it means you can’t hold a pen or put on your own socks.

The more fine-motor tasks I attempted, the quicker it would go away, one doctor said, and so I asked my stepmother to bring me some yarn and big, fat needles to get started. And she did, she brought some yarn in lovely shades of blues and greens, and some hefty wooden needles, in a cute purple drawstring bag, which I immediately hung on the side rail of my hospital bed. There it sat… and sat… and sat. I just couldn’t bring myself to cast on, it never felt right.

I have a strong belief in a sort of knitting karma, a sense that whatever moods and thoughts I have while working can get woven into the project with each stitch. No problem when it’s a passing bad mood, that’s part of life and sometimes it’s an excellent way to relieve tension, that repetitive and sometimes stab-like motion. But I never had a good mood in the hospital, never felt remotely like myself or anywhere in the vicinity of happy. And so I refused to pick up the needles until I had at least entered into the county of OK, because I did not want to incorporate that level of misery into any sort of garment.

Thus it took me a long time, not until several weeks following my discharge from the hospital, before I picked up the needles again. And then it was with a tentative, fearful nature that I had never felt before: a complete absence of my former confidence that I could either do this or learn how, pretty much regardless of what “this” was. I started a sweater, and have worked perhaps four inches of that, on and off; it’s going well in the sense that I haven’t made any major mistakes and I’m happy with the fabric that is forming, but remembering to reach for the knitting needles and start fiddling away took a conscious and deliberate effort, not the reflexive habit I had before. And any progress in terms of inches was met with a vague nod and acceptance, not the contented glow I had before. It was just one more way in which I had to recover, one more small loss that I had to carefully and intentionally build up again.

A few inches into the sweater, I was moving things around in my bedroom and stumbled upon the drawstring bag that W. had brought me in the hospital. I still liked the colors, still appreciated her effort, and so I took it out and started playing around, to find a stitch pattern that worked well with the yarn. I decided to make something for her birthday, as a birthday gift and a thank-you nod and just a recognition of her repeated, appreciated visits while I was in the hospital. It ended up as a Clapotis, a sort of wide, lightweight wrap, which I forgot to photograph before she took it home. I’m pleased with the result, and felt like I had at least regained my knitting abilities, if not the full range of heart and enjoyment behind them.

Then, tonight, I started pawing around in my far-too-large stash of yarns, searching for the right stuff to start a wedding gift. (The wedding is this Saturday, nothing like waiting til the last minute!) That yarn was too thin, that was the wrong color, oh, I remember buying that, I had forgotten I even had that, I wonder where that came from, wow, look, a whole bag full of Malabrigo, this was intended to become a baby blanket, and, and, and… and there it was. My knitting mojo. The hum of excitement, the lure of the unwound skein. I could barely force myself to leave the room, and even now I’m tempted to tiptoe back out and just pet the cashmere one more time.

Oh, I missed this.

(And, back to the original, dirty-minded thoughts… yes, I missed that, too.)

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Responses

  1. Kate, I stumbled across your blog a couple of weeks ago (searching for blogs written by people in the NY/New England region), and have been following ever since. Only just now working up the courage to leave a comment …

    I am not much of a knitter, though I do start a project every now and then … and even occasionally finish them! Even so, I love your description of knitting karma; I am in total agreement. If nothing else, one can always tell my stress level by looking at the tightness of the stitches … watching the Olympics last winter, I unconsciously tightened my stitches so much that by the end of some of the sports, I couldn’t even get the needles through anymore.

    I am glad your mojo has returned – both knitting and, uh, other.

  2. Oh WHEW!

  3. Amen indeed. THAT was back about 8 weeks after Jade’s arrival, and while it’s still not The National 4th of July Fireworks, there’s at least a few bottlerockets and cherry bombs here and there.

    I am still waiting for the knitting mojo to return. I just got the itch to buy a couple new skeins the other day (never mind the absolutely stuffed bin of yarn I stashed while I was pregnant and nesting but unable to physically knit) and am swatching with one (it’s the new Stitch Nation yarn Bamboo Ewe by Red Heart, and not too bad) but it’s not jumping out asking to be made into anything. I have been keeping my hands busy by crocheting granny squares for a wedding present I am collaborating on, but that’s not terrifically inspiring.

    Yesterday I was showing Jade the contents of the bedroom closet (hey, she was in her front carrier and wanted to see!) and we opened the bin – oh my, I forgot just how much I have and how lovely it all looks. Time to start browsing on Rav, I think…

  4. Good for you. On both things! I am getting back in the groove after a year, yes one year. Sometimes it takes a while for things to click. I love wearing a big ol smile and knowing what is behind it. Jealous you are knitting. I love to crochet but somehow never get anything done.

  5. I’m a friend of your friend Ann’s and have been following your blog off and on since she posted about you when Isaac was born. Your honesty is beautiful and the way you describe your return to knitting is poetic and moving. Bravo for finding your way back in both realms!

  6. Kate’s got her Groove back. YAY!!!

  7. I especially liked your comment concerning the emotions knitted into an object. With me that is a definate thing, and depends on who – whom?- I am knitting for. The prayer shawl you received was definately filled with nearly a prayer a stitch or at least a row. And Isaac’s blanket was made with him constantly in my thoughts and eagerly awaiting the chance to hold him. Love, G – Judy

  8. Good on you for rediscovering your knitting mojo. And the… other… discoveries are also not to be discounted. Not at all.

  9. Odd as it may sound, given that we’ve never met, but I’m so proud of you! Your strength and determination, the way you’ve handled all this…
    Well done, and enjoy the knitting… etc…

  10. Kate, been thinking of you — so glad to know you’re excited about knitting again — I lost it for awhile, too, and it’s such a good feeling to want to have the needles back in your hands.


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