Today’s Woolness & Me post was written by Desiree Goodall, who writes about ‘woolness’ in the context of moving through grief and loss; of using wool and needles like a life raft.
I was unexpectedly widowed at the age of 30 and found myself inexplicably drawn to knitting – something I hadn’t done for a number of years.
I went to the local yarn store and bought a pair of needles and a ball of wool. I started knitting. I wasn’t making anything in particular, I wasn’t really even thinking about what I was doing. I just cast on some stitches and knit, rows and rows of garter stitch.
When I got to the end of the ball, I unravelled the knitting, wound the wool and started knitting again. I don’t know how many times I knit that one ball of wool.
Some days I would completely zone out, my mind cleared and gave me a break from the swirling thoughts in my head; thoughts about hospitals, operations, things gone wrong, glimmers of hope that turned into disappointment, decisions about death.
Other days I was consciously knitting, feeling the needles and wool in my hands, noticing each stitch as it was made, correcting a stitch if the yarn split and became two because I’d worked the wool so often.
The next day I might zone out again. I never checked the fabric to see what the different days’ work looked like, to see if there was a visible difference in what I’d produced in the different states.
Further on in my grief I was able to use knitting as a way of calming my mind and allowing some thoughts in – things I needed or wanted to mull over, perhaps coming to some kind of resolution or trying to make sense of something.
The repetitive and familiar action of making each stitch was comforting in a way I can’t explain. Maybe it helps regulate your breathing and heartbeat, maybe it’s the tactile nature of the needles and the wool, hands working together with tools and materials to create something and see it grow. Who knows, but it helped. It helps. Even now, after a stressful day, a few rows of knitting helps calm the mind in ways little else does.
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