Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Peace of Yarn

Until about three weeks ago, there was a yarn shop near me with that name: The Peace of Yarn. Even the first time I heard it, I thought it was an absolutely perfect name for a yarn store. I didn't go there often because it was in Matthews, which is not a convenient drive, and my kids were younger and prone to running wildly through retail establishments, and also because it was a yarn store, meaning specialty yarn, meaning specialty price tags of sometimes $20+ for one ball of yarn (it is sometimes difficult to be both a penny-pincher and a lover of nice things...the penny pincher part of me usually wins these battles). But I love the name and the idea behind it: The Peace of Yarn. I'm also currently reading Friday Night Knitting Club, which has renewed my love affair with fibers and the joy they represent.

My mother used to crochet. I remember a chevron, zigzag-style throw that was on the back of our couch forever, stripes of white and rusty orange. It was very small - probably less than 3' by 2' - because I'm sure she was just using up yarn that someone had given to her from a project long-ago. Even now, though, I find it difficult to believe that my mother had the dexterity and the thought processes necessary to crochet. It's not incredibly difficult - die hard knitters, in fact, often scoff at how easy it is - but there is counting involved, and often it's difficult to gauge exactly where to insert the hook, especially at the beginning of a new project before the pattern has revealed itself. But somehow she did it. For Christmas last year, I sent her a box that contained several balls of yarn and a set of new hooks and a pattern book. I haven't asked her if she's made anything yet. I've seen how her hands shake sometimes and how she gets confused, and I don't want to make her feel bad if she hasn't made anything.

I crocheted a little bit about 10 years ago when I made my mother-in-law and my sister blankets; my sister sleeps with hers every night, and I don't know where my mother-in-law has the one I made for her. I started again about three years ago when I decided I wanted to make my daughter a hat and didn't want to pay $30 for one off of eBay. She must have 10 hats by now, plus some stuffed animals and even a blanket or two. I love the feel of the yarn in my fingers (organic cotton being the best in that regard; I love it for a lot of reasons, and it's definitely my yarn of choice). I love the idea that by just hooking and looping one strand of yarn in a certain way, I can create a real thing, something someone can use or wear.

What I love most of all, though, is that it is impossible - literally impossible - for anyone, including a master multi-tasker like myself, to do anything else while crocheting. This includes worrying and obsessing, which I've been doing quite a bit lately, so as my husband said, crocheting is a perfect thing for me to pick up again right now. There's so much counting and patterning and concentration involved that you can't think of anything else while you're doing it. For something that's relatively easy to master, it's also relatively consuming. The rhythm is hypnotic, the counting is relaxing, and even when I do it just for 10 minutes here and there, I always walk away feeling more relaxed then when I started. It's like I lose myself for a period of time, almost like sleeping, and when I'm done, things are just a little better.

I'm going to carry my yarn with me everywhere for a while. Today in carpool, tomorrow when I run errands...you never know when a few extra minutes will pop up, and since I'm used to having a book with me, anyway, this is not much different. I'm finding my inner peace with yarn right now. I expect that we'll have a linen closet full of washcloths and my daughter's hat collection will be growing rapidly over the next several weeks, but it's all good. Mama needs some relaxation.

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