Hibernating

I’ve always hated winter – I don’t do well in the cold dark days with insufficient sunlight. These past two winters have been really really difficult as I struggle with depression and its hideous side pieces, drinking too much, and not being able to keep my home environment consistently tidy. I only occasionally care about these things, spending most of my energy on staying sharp at work, but coming home exhausted and incapable.

This year, while I work on recovery, I have decided that it is time to do some hibernation, but instead of sleeping through it, I plan to work on myself. Well, Sunday before last I slept for a few hours midday – a delicious, glorious nap with my kids in the wintry sunlight pouring in through the bedroom window. It was amazing. And very satisfying. This past Sunday I managed to do a lot of long-overdue tidying…until a cat toy got stuck in the vacuum nozzle, so the remainder of that is for tonight…or some other night.

Knittering and Oo-mes

The first project I have embarked upon in my wintering is knitting. Over Christmas in Portland, Pikkul taught me the basic stitches of knitting. Since then I have watched YouTube videos about casting on, and I feel like I’m getting the hang of it. The repetition is very soothing, and the tactile work is therapeutic. Even the problems are interesting – I can’t yet badly mess it up, and starting over is still easy. And I don’t have a goal in mind except to learn the skills so I’m doing OK for now.

Attended a knitting class this weekend to see what I could do with help by my side instead of frantically sending my friends photos of my messed-up work, and in that class were the Oo-mes. All Oo-mes, save for me and one other girl.

Let me explain what Oo-mes are. They’re the people who go to a class, a beginner’s class no less, and show off their skills while also denigrating them. For me and the other girl, who didn’t know a knit stitch from a purl, these swiftly-accomplished pieces, which, of course the oo-mes complained about, pointing out tiny flaws that our uneducated eyes couldn’t perceive. Oo-mes come to a class and self-criticize, after which we’re supposed to compliment them, “Oh wow, that’s gorgeous, what lovely work!” which garners them praise and a boost for their self-confidence. Another hallmark of the oo-me, which is the act by which their type of personality is named, is humble-bragging about their skills and qualifications, for example, in knitting. One pipes up and explains away a mistake that they need help with by overlaying it with a comment about some other yarn-related skill, “Oh I must have gotten this confused with underwater basket-weaving!”

I’m certain that’s what it is.

The next one, who has a bigger “hand” in the game says “Oh you b-weave (inside term)? I’m pretty sure my single-handed left-handed-tatter-tho-I’m-a-righty tatting habits are what’s messing me up today hahahaha!”

And I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t be irritated by these personalities because I have a sneaking suspicion I was one at some point. Otherwise how would I know so intimately their habits? Also, they’re aggressively seeking outside approval from perfect strangers. I realized this as I sat there and struggled to understand what I was doing. Because of course I was an ACTUAL beginner and the instructor assumed two things: since “everybody” already knew how to knit, we should be able to know wtf is going on, and of course she also showed me a totally different way to cast-on than I’ve learned, so my confusion and irritation was elevated.

But as these women, at the same time millions of other women were marching for womens’ rights, were playing that poisonous, precarious outside-approval game, and also verbally berating, kicking and frustrating themselves to the point where they had to leave the class and take a walk around the store. I dislike this elevated level of emotion, especially since it’s not an emergency room, but a goddamn Saturday morning knitting class. So I tried to counter their annoyed exclamations of “I’m so stupid” and “I hate myself” and “my knitting sucks” with –

  • hey – everybody starts somewhere!
  • I consider these the big fat crayons kids use to learn coloring – that’s where we’re at right now
  • or the Duplo blocks of the lego world
  • I really love learning a new creative outlet!

but each of these interjections was met with scoffing and negativity so OK guys. Keep whining. But I continued to get irritated, so I asked casually if anybody had any pot on them, because a nice big drag of marijuana would make this go much faster.

Silence. Then disapproving chaos. The stoner stereotype. The making fun of what a stoned person’s knitting would look like.

Needless to say, I got out of there as soon as humanly possible.

Quilting! Frankensteining Myself

Another low-risk, warm and cuddly on-the-couch-with-the-kids activity that results in useful things is quilting. Many moons ago, probably high school, I wanted to begin quilting, but I never quite got the hang of it. Too mathematical and starting from scratch every time and overworking the material and cutting it too small and AUGH. Nemmind.

Last year I bought an “antique” quilt, which was probably made in the 40s/50s (pre-polyester) and very poorly cared for, and brought it home. Washed it and it fell the F apart so while I was re-gathering myself, I left it folded in a cat-hair-covered pile on the dining table. Then I thought about getting rid of it, which my sister was adamantly against. She insisted I should patch it back up! I was like uh yeah no.

But the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to date, and the colder it got outside, the more I was into that idea. But the thought of piecing together perfectly-cut pieces of a fan to individually patch the quilt, matching colors and weights of fabric, the more daunting the idea became. I’m at the point in my life where the MINIMAL amount of effort should be asked of me because otherwise I’ll be incapable of completing whatever it is. And I heard then about FRANKENQUILTING!

This. This I can do.

So I went a bit nuts getting cuttings of ¼ yard pieces of maybe a zillion fabrics in sweet candy colors, as well as satin ribbon for the binding. I’ve started in on this project, and I hope that soon it becomes something I adore.

I’m now working on stitching that together, forgiving my mistakes (it’s NOT going to be perfect), and making the best of what I have. But with lots of teal and pink.