There are so many ways to say “Thank you”…and I’ll be darned if I can come up with even one of them that says what I want to say in gratitude to each and every one of you who responded so warmly to my last post. You wrote with kindness; you wrote with compassion and understanding; you wrote with shared experiences and honesty. Mostly, though, you wrote about finding something here that I find has become a precious commodity in today’s world: You told of the many ways, big and small, in which my writing has helped you feel connected to someone, something, outside yourselves.
That alone made my heart smile the most.
It’s so easy to feel isolated these days. People work from home, or stay at home with young children, or take care of their parents, or the youngsters of relatives, or are retired, disabled, or just are in situations where a good friend is hard to find. We are tethered to our phones, to checking in on friends via text and Facebook and Instagram rather than by talking to them, voice to voice over a phone call, or heaven forbid, by knocking on their door to see how they are. For me, as for many of us, some of my friends are those I seldom talk to in person—or perhaps not at all; sometimes it seems as though my best friends are all hundreds or thousands of miles away. And in a couple of cases, it is true: Some I see once every few years; but there are at least a handful of people I care about on the internet whom I have never, ever met in person. At least one woman I’ve never met lives thousands of miles away; despite daily posts on ordinary stuff, I really, really want to just sit in the same room with her, cats draped all over both us, with time to chat about everything and nothing, and knit, and eat pizza, and laugh at bad movies.
For me, connecting with people on the internet every day, it often seems to me that we don’t have enough space to share even the so-called “Little Things” in life–the kind of things where we want to pop on over to a friends’ house and say, “Look what I did!” or call up someone to discuss the best way to pick up a dropped stitch, or to fret over a sick kitty to someone other than the other cats in the household—let alone share the Big Things. Yes, there are tutorials and web classes; there are online forums and Facebook; there are email and Instagram and texting and all the other ways our disconnected society has come up with to help us connect to one another for conversations large and small. Despite all these technical marvels, and even though all those things offer us a chance to interact with dozens of people across the world each day, sometimes it is hard to feel truly, really connected to any of them. It’s hard to know if these connections are fleeting and wouldn’t stand up to Real Life scrutiny, or if these connections are founded on something deeper, and thus are the kind we used to refer to as “kindred spirits”.
What I heard in your comments was the–satisfaction? fulfillment? joy? relief?–of perhaps finding a kindred spirit in all the Big Out There that is the internet, our modern lifeline to each other. That’s certainly how I felt reading your responses–as though I had found kindred spirits, kind and funny and compassionate ones, at that.
What a wonderful gift you people are to me.
Of course, I agonized over how to say “thank you”, and wrote far too many drafts, until I realized that just saying it, any which way I could, was more important than saying it “perfectly”.
It only took me, what? Two weeks?
I thought I might just share a few of the lovely, amazing things folks wrote in the comments. I picked these more or less at random. Mostly, I wanted to share some of the wisdom and the warmth which you people bring to this blog, in case it might warm someone else’s spirit the way it has warmed mine. This blog is not just me, the same as Knitting Daily was never just me. Somehow, you, the commenters and the silent readers, somehow, you’ve built this years-long bloggy adventure with me, and made it yours, too, in the process.
“Thank you for sharing. It’s so hard to be vulnerable, but more and more I think it’s important to show up as our full selves, including the shadow parts, and including those parts is how we can be sure our right people will find us.”
And then Marta said something similar:
“::hugs:: and ❤️ We love you, friend. I would only add write for yourself and if you’re having difficulties, chances are there are others who would benefit from your heartfelt honesty. I know I do.”
These two comments give voice to one of my greatest hopes: That when I find the courage to be most myself, and to write about this experience, others might also find the courage to be the most themselves. I am uneasy around people who seem to be hiding a big part of themselves from the world. I don’t mean those who are private people and would no more write a blog than they would publish their private diaries; those folks are private, they are careful choosers, good gatekeepers, if you will, of what they show to whom. It’s more that vibe you get sometimes when you sense a person is faking it in some way. That gives me the willies. Honesty earns my trust and my respect. You know what? I think of such folks, the Real Folks, as being the Velveteen Rabbits in our lives. The more real we are, the more the love within and around us shines forth.
(Thanks to you both, Marta and Kimberly.)
From Karen, a perfectly reasonable question:
“Thank you for posting, thank you for sharing, thank you for being you! Why do we feel guilty sitting down to knit in the middle of the afternoon?”
I have no idea. I wish I knew and could kick that particular guilt to the curb. Anyone have any clues about this one? It really bugs me! (And thank you, Karen, for the rest. xo)
Fighting Back: Making Stuff
So, yeah: Depression. And its all-too-clingy sidekick, anxiety. I do the breathing thing. I do the meditation thing. I do the meds and doctors thing. And for me, because a big part of the emotional turmoil is a wicked case of seasonal affective disorder, I have The Lights and keep our drapes open so I don’t sit in the dark very much. We have a huge skylight that really helps. Still: Here is kind of a bad place to live for someone with this particular quirk in their mental makeup. It’s not just the dark, it’s the cabin fever. Growing up on the West Coast, even living a big chunk of my adult life in Colorado (LOTS of sunshine even though it snows a fair bit), I’m used to just popping in and out of the house whenever I think about it, grabbing a few minutes to sit outside and read between chores, going for walks all year round, eating on the patio…here, of course, during the cold months, one does not simply pop in and out of anywhere! There are the layers and the coat, re-checking the weather forecast to see if another layer is called for, then the boots and the mittens…and really, I guess I’m just not enough of a Real Canadian yet to want to sit outside on the patio in subzero temperatures even if the sun is shining and the sky is a brilliant blue.
One of my not-so-secret weapons against the dark, is, of course, working with my hands and my words. Throughout it all, I keep on Making Stuff, both to feed my spirit, and to heal my heart. That’s what I used to call it when I was a kid, Making Stuff, except that when I was a teenager and young adult, I, of course, substituted a somewhat spicier Anglo-Saxon word for “Stuff”! At some point along the way, however, I realized that calling my creative endeavours by that particular cuss word (“steaming pile of…” is one way the word is commonly used these days, if you need another identifier) was actually a spectacular way of putting down and minimizing myself and my creativity. It was as though I was constantly saying that what I was making was worthless, that my time spent being creative was a waste, and the ultimate place for all of my creativity and my Making was the septic tank.
“Making Stuff” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but I don’t really believe any longer that being creative is a waste of time, and I’m trying to see my Making Stuff more positively, as others have told me they see it. I’m trying to weed out the old phrase from my vocabulary.
Another place where change is hard. But then someone goes and writes something like this, from Sylvia:
“Sandi, I’m with your for the long haul!! I started reading your stuff at Knitting Daily, unsubscribed from that after you left … and have been yearning for your voice ever since.”
…and this, from Lori:
“Sandi, I’ve been following your blogs since Knitting Daily. You can’t make me stop…you just can’t.”
Um. Wow. I’m gobsmacked. See, this is why there are simply not enough ways to say “thank you” properly in our language. (Hugs to both of you.)
I clearly need something warm. And brightly coloured! Hence, my version of Lisa Kay’s Undercurrent Hoodie. Here’s how I’m doing so far on that:
I’ve finished the back of the sweater to the neck, cast on for the left front, and am now just a few rows past the last decrease at the waist. It’s “just” stockinette stitch, but I don’t watch much TV, I get antsy sitting down to knit in the middle of the day, and it’s sooooo easy to get distracted by housework, paperwork, the internets, and other shiny crafty projects when all I have is Stockinette Stitch or Garter Stitch to keep me company. These two stitch patterns have been the cause of most of the sloooowwww progress and unfinished projects in my queue. (Self-knowledge is power, I suppose. I am now using the promise of a pretty, soft, warm hoodie as a carrot to get me to do at least a few rows of knitting each day. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to be accountable to you nice folks. You will clamour for photos and updates, right?)
I love the colours. I wasn’t sure how the colour repeat was going to look when knitted up; when I started the left front, I started a new ball of yarn but consciously decided not to start it at exactly the same place in the colour repeat, mostly because I don’t want any sort of regular horizontal stripes across my body! The colour bands are wider on the front than on the back — half as many stitches to work in each row, so the yarn is used up at a slower rate–and when I start the right front, I will make sure that I start in a completely different part of the repeat. I like the more random look of the colour progressions which result, rather than having it looked like I painstakingly planned out the stripes beforehand.
A further note on this yarn (Noro Kotori, 75% wool, 10% cotton, 8% viscose, 7% silk): If you are thinking of trying it out, be aware that it is a singles yarn—it’s just one strand, not two strands (or three or whatever) wrapped around one another. It is fairly well spun, so it doesn’t come unravelled, however, it can pull apart with enough of a little tug. I’ve had it pull apart mid-row (mid-stitch, actually), which was not exactly happy-making. Once I growled enough to satisfy my inner Grump, I simply undid the last five or so stitches, picked up the newly separated end, and continued on as if I were adding a new ball of yarn. (Your method may vary: I often weave the end of the “old” yarn in and out, exactly as I would with floats on two-handed stranded knitting.)
Don’t know how to do that? Not sure what two-handed stranded knitting is? Of course, you can look it up on the internet, if you want to. I suggest searching for videos by Philosopher’s Wool; Eugene is the one who taught this technique to me and he did it in three minutes at a show and wow, it is dead simple.
That said: My wife Melody’s research (no, I didn’t make the tiara she is wearing there, that is my wedding tiara!) is (partly) on the different ways folks learn things, so if the vids you google don’t help and you’d like me to help out some way—another vid, or step by step photos, or whatever—let me know. You know how I love to teach fun things to y’all!
Another comment…this one from Mary Lou:
“Your way with words is as wonderful as your way with yarn. Hearing your description of depression, anxiety, and self-doubt helps me understand and interact more compassionately with the people in my life who are suffering with similar symptoms. I’ve always enjoyed your voice in writing, and am so happy to have found you in your post Knitting Daily life. You make a difference. Thank you! Looking forward reading future posts. Off to knit…”
To make a difference. To help grow more compassion and more joy. What more could anyone wish for? Thank you, Mary Lou, for zeroing in on the important stuff.
Oh, and another last one, from Jerri:
“Thanks for your bravery and honesty. I started following you for the knitting and have stayed all these years because you are a real person and not afraid to show it. Many of us out here appreciate that you tell it like it is. Keep it up.”
I am so grateful to you, Jerri, and all the rest of you lovely folks, for sharing yourselves with me in the comments. You see, you give me the bravery to do what I do. You’re the reason I keep pounding on these keys–well, that, and I cannot seem to stop myself from writing! This was true for all the best bits of Knitting Daily, as well: I fought for this thing and that thing on KD–because I knew you wanted to read about those things. (The pushback I got over writing those Bust Dart posts? Well, now! Those wouldn’t have happened except for the lot of you shouting BUST DARTS BUST DARTS so joyfully all over the place. And the Gallery Girl posts, wow. Those got me in a wee-ton of warmish water. You folks begging for more, more! was the reason I was able to continue doing the Galleries for so long. Really).
I suppose I really do write for Real People, mostly because I wouldn’t have a clue how to write for the other sort.
Time to get this up and posted, (And yes, it ought to have been two posts. I tried, but just couldn’t figure out how to break it up. Oh well!) I’ve got some more sweater knitting to do!
You all give me love & hope in winter’s dark. Thank you.