I started a new shawl this weekend, even though I had a perfectly lovely shawl already started.
I wanted something that wasn’t going to require a lot of concentration. Saturday was World Wide Knit in Public Day, and I wanted to take my knitting to the movies (saw Ocean’s 8. Definitely would recommend.)
The first few rows
But, I also wanted something that I could work through quickly and feel like I was accomplishing something. There was a lot of bad news last week, with Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s suicides, and I just didn’t have it in me to be in the inevitable online discussion of these two losses. I needed to sit with my feelings and work through what I was feeling and thinking away from the public response. I needed a distraction. This yarn is from the indie dyer Inked Sheep Fibers in the colorway troublemaker and the pattern I am using is Boneyard shawl by Stephen West. I didn’t pick this pattern on purpose, for any morbid reason. I picked it because it’s a 12-row repeat of stockinette stitch, with minimal increases that are done at the edges and around the center (which is marked). Once I got going, I just had to count to 12. No big deal.
The first repeat
Most of my thoughts ended up being about society as a whole. Have we created a world that is good for us? Do we have strong communities? What does it even mean to have a strong community? What could I be doing? How have I failed? Can we have a macro-level conversation about systemic issues that make mental health hard to look after or mental illness unbearable without implying that people with mental illness aren’t themselves doing enough? How do we make space for healing? How do we support that while fostering an understanding that “healing” isn’t the same as “curing”? [
The second repeat
I think the beginnings of that are already out there. There are people working to end mental health stigma. More people are coming out and discussing their illnesses publicly. Beyond the discussions of the individual celebrities and loss, the general discussion about suicide and mental health is something we need more of. And, it would be great if we could do that outside of a death. And, maybe we’re getting there.
The third repeat
By the end of the weekend, I had knit quite a bit and ignored quite a lot. To be honest with you, at some point on Sunday, working on this project veered into avoidance and away from self-care. There were things on my weekly checklist that should have probably been seen to on Sunday. But, I keep coming back to some ideas that were in my head this weekend. Like, do we recognize reaching out when we see it? How can we can better at that? How can we make our support more easily accessible? How do we lower the barriers to access to resources that support people’s health? What would a society that supports the health and well-being of its members look like?
It’s even pretty on the wrong side
Looking at the knitting I did this weekend, I have to laugh. Some people knit every stitch with love, I knit, it would seem, every stitch with a question.