Monday, September 19, 2016

Knitting Associations

I have a question for you. Do your knitting projects take on deep emotional associations? I think that most of us have projects with differing degrees of difficulty, like plain vanilla socks or simple scarves or hats, for times where we can't invest a lot of attention and counting, to more complicated projects, like lace shawls, for when we can focus a bit more.

That's part of what is behind my question, but there is more to it. In the past, I've had several projects that seem to have soaked up the feelings of the situation going on while I was working on them. Sitting by my mother's bedside during her last few months, I was working on an afghan. I never did finish it because every time I got it out afterwards, the project itself vividly reminded me of that awful time. Eventually I had to rip it out and donate the yarn.

Another example is Campari. I love the project, but rarely wear it because all I can think about is the hours sitting in the hospital during the surgery that marked the beginning of my father's decline, and the careless woman that spilled coffee on it in the waiting room.

My yarn doesn't absorb only negative emotions; I do have some overwhelmingly positive projects. Ryan picked out the yarn for the aptly named Happy Times with Ryan during one of our first visits to The Loopy Ewe. Long Road Alone reminds me of Justin's travels and how happy I was that he had safely driven 4500 miles and was not mauled by a grizzly while alone in the wilds of Montana.

So, back to my question. Last week I had four medical appointments, this week there are three. These always mean waiting time, which also means knitting time. I'm almost done with Fine Line, and am also working on some Dr. Who fingerless mitts for Ryan and a hat for Justin. I want these to be imbued with good feelings and love, so I've found that I just can't stand to work on them in waiting rooms surrounded by reminders of grave illness and loss.

I also can't bear to sit in waiting rooms without knitting, so dishcloths have become my projects for hospitals and doctors' offices. Today a nurse told me I might be crazy (in a joking way, of course!), for attaching so much emotion to mere knitting, but I discounted it because she admitted that she wasn't a knitter. Since then, I've been wondering if there are other knitters who feel the same way I do. I'd love to hear your thoughts, stories, and opinions about emotional attachments to your projects (even if your thoughts are the same as the nurse's). Thanks for reading my ramblings and helping to satisfy my curiosity!


  1. Based on my own experience, I agree with you. My mom passed away at the end of March after being ill for about two months. I ended up ripping out the two knitting projects I was working on at the time. I have a quilt top that I made as a birthday gift for my mom and it is still in my closet, I don't think I will be able to finish that either. I don't think you are crazy, just emotionally connected to what you are making. Dishcloths are a good alternative!

  2. I absolutely agree with you although I don't have any first hand experience with this myself. I hope you are okay, Bonny, and that things are getting better.

  3. Absolutely... sort of.

    I worked on Parcheesi while my sister was in decline and it's certainly a reminder of that time, but I think of it more as my SALVATION and therefore a GOOD THING. Also, Sharon took an interest in that project and we talked about it (she thought I was nuts for knitting a blanket, I'm sure, but also that it was pretty amazing).

    Same thing with Algiers (the TTL Mystery '14). That Mystery KAL started just a few days before my mother was admitted to the hospital; I finished it a few weeks after she died. As I remember, it was the subject of our last conversation. I was so grateful to have such a project to concentrate on and occupy my mind during that time.

    There is emotion in every single stitch and sometimes I feel the sad, but mostly I feel their love and approval, and am generally grateful that knitting can help me through bad times.

  4. I was thinking about this just today, Bonny, as I cast off a simple scarf project that I started during my mom's first hospitalization this summer . . . and knit through her decline and passing. Yep, there's some angst and worry and sadness knit in there -- but also some hope and peace. (But I will admit to getting rid of every single thing I knit while I was having chemo. . . )

  5. I was thinking about good thoughts today when I shared about the experiences I hope the baby blanket I'm knitting has along the way. and I didn't write about it, but I certainly thought about projects that don't see "happy". When my dad had his last cancer surgery, I spent much of my waiting time knitting a shawl for a friend who was going through a hard time. Last November after my nephew died, knitting Stole 2.0 kept my hands busy and gave me comfort; I gave the finished piece to my sister in law. The only piece I've ever abandoned because of the memories is the stole I'd started just before I left for Florida in January (and I didn't even rip it - I took it off the needles and threw it away).

    I think dishcloths are a great solution for the place you're in right now. a charity project might be good, too. or maybe something warm for all those boys in your life who need mitts and hats.

    (and hugs and good thoughts for your upcoming week. xo - M.)

  6. Beautiful post Bonny and I agree - those stitches hold both pain and joy. I think that the meditative act of knitting has held me together in many a difficult situation. However, I did not think about how much or little how I wanted to use the item. I hope that your days are somehow getting better or perhaps easier. XO

  7. I think I wouldn't want to keep a project around that held memories of a careless, coffee spilling person. Dishcloths are a perfect thing to knit as you can wash away bad memories and scour out unpleasantness (or someone else can). ;)

  8. Yes, any project that takes time ends up with associations for me. It might be where I was knitting, with whom, or the season but when I pick up the object later, those thoughts do surface. It sometimes happens with other projects, but most are not as portable as knitting so I think that is why it happens most often with the knitting. Sometimes with spindle spinning. I've never been where I wanted to frog a project though. Helen

  9. I have a cross stitch project that I was working on when my mother was ill (then died..) I cannot look at it to finish it, and it's been 18 years. I do not take knitting for mammograms because if I ever get "news" I would associate it with something I love.

    So you are not crazy and I say give those shawls with sad memories to someone and cast on something fresh.

    I never thought of dishcloths while waiting for an annual've added something for me to think about.

  10. I knit Miss BB (Chicknits) while my mother was dying. I have good feelings about it though as we were together and it makes me think of her. But thinking about the hell of my Dad's winter and passing...I have no idea what I was knitting (and quite possibly frogged). (I think that's a good thing!)


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