December 29, 2009


While most of the time I truthfully tell people that I knit to stay sane, there are times when I (and I assume every knitter) wonder if this is honestly the case.

Case in point: I am currently sitting in near darkness, surrounded by piles of yarn, needles, two finished scarves, a finished hat, a glove in progress, an improvised swift, a newly made center pull ball, and a laptop with three out of four windows containing knitting related information.

How did I get here? Am I sane?

I began to ask this question when I realized on December 24th, that I might not be able to finish two projects I was planing to gift the next morning. At that point I made a quick calculation and a decision. I see my sister frequently as she lives down the block. I rarely see my father, therefore I would attempt to finish his gift first. I rationalized that I could probably finish a large man's scarf quickly and I had a single glove finished for my sister. I could wrap up the single glove and promise her a second. Whew, crisis averted.


So I knit and knit and knit on the scarf. I refrained from several Christmas Eve traditions, didn't participate in a game of scrabble, and can honestly say that I knit harder, longer, and faster than I ever have before.

And then it was Christmas morning, and I was still knitting.

I knit through opening presents and explained about the scarf and the single glove. My family understood, though I thought I saw a few puzzled looks and a slight mockery in their eyes. I continued to knit furiously, hoping to be done by the time I had to leave for the next stop on Holiday Relative Tour 2009.

I wasn't. I had two more stripes to go and a whole forest of weaving in left when it came time to leave. Unfinished knits can make you contemplate crazy things. I actually thought about binding off then and there, even though I knew it would be too short and somehow teaching my sister and mother (who have never knit in their lives) how to weave in a gazillion loose ends. I even voiced this crazed idea to the mocking laughter of the entire room.

And then I lost it.

Like a small child, like I'd done a hundred time in that house as a kid, I cried. I ran sobbing from the room in front of them all. In front of my boyfriend spending his first Christmas with my family.

The minute I was outside I realized how insane I appeared. How insane I might me. I recognized it for what it was, knitting exhaustion, but I didn't know how to go back in and just act like normal. What could I do?

I was saved by the calm caring of Keith and my loving mother. They pulled me back in and smoothed it out. My father calmly assured me that he didn't mind waiting for the scarf. But at that moment the scarf took on a form larger than itself and I associated finishing it with disappointing my dad. It hurt to know that I was leaving both it and my family on Christmas.

I climbed into the car wiping tears from my eyes and clasping the squishy striped scarf to my chest. I knew I had at least several days in which to finish it, but somehow I couldn't put it down. I waved to my family until they were out of sight, and then instantly turned to the scarf. I knit furiously and didn't really look up until Fresno. I wove in each and every loose end tightly and carefully. I finished the scarf.

When I finally looked up we were nearly to our next destination. I was bone tired, physically sore, and had developed a gnarly knitting blister on my right index finger. But the scarf sat neatly tucked away in the car, waiting.

The next few days were a blur of Keith's family and driving home. There was food and presents and hugs. And then we drove 8 hours home and collapsed in a heap.

Which is where this story began. With me sitting in a filthy house among piles of yet-to-be-unpacked suitcases, random gifts strew about the living room, a small worn out dog sick from too many unauthorized holiday handouts, and chocolate and an assortment of cookies the only food.

And though I will likely be having guests over to celebrate New Year's, I sit in the mess and contemplate the many possibilities of my next knitted project.

Does this make me insane?

Albert Einstein said that insanity was "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." And yet here I sit eagerly sorting through patterns and yarn and already thinking about the gifts I would like to give next year . . .

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