Last night was a horrible knitting night.
I was sitting with my partner on our lovely front porch on a warm-but-not-hot summer evening, flailing and furious.
My partner, who also has anxiety, finds my anxiety very anxious-making. Say that five times fast.
Several times, she tried to offer me things, read me something, say a word, and I was like JUST A MINUTE JUST A MINUTE MOTHERFUCKER GAAAAH.
I could FEEL her thinking very hard at me: “Wasn’t knitting supposed to help you relax?”
Or maybe it was my own internal monologue in her voice. Because her getting anxious from my anxiety makes me very anxious.
ha ha ha what a pair we are
I was trying to learn knitting-in-the-round with double-pointed needles, AND I was trying it with a project, AND it was ribbed, so each time I switched from knit to purl the needle I’d just been on wanted to flip around and get involved. “Whatchya doin’, guys?” It would say. “Can I come?” Poke, poke. Like an over-eager Labrador Retriever.
Also, I had to keep picking up my phone to unlock it and either record that I’d snapped at her* (I keep track of these sorts of things and you can read about that here), or to again look at the damn pattern for symmetrical braided gauntlets, because apparently I am unable to keep numbers in my head for longer than 30 seconds. Then I’d have to pick up my phone, unlock it, open a different app, and record that I’d had a self-hating thought.
Musta been fun to watch?
Knitting this way felt like when I had just started on straight needles, just the knit stitch. I kept splitting the yarn, accidentally increasing it, knotting it up, and the yarn kept slipping off of the passive needle even though the stitches were so tight they were practically cutting into the steel needles.
It had been fun before, warts and all, because I was MAKING STUFF and LEARNING NEW THINGS, two of my favorite things. But this was just frustrating. I thought I was done splitting yarn and knotting it up and knitting too tight and stitches slipping off the needle. Plus, I couldn’t see well because I prefer dim warm lighting on my porch in the evenings for sleeping and cozymaking reasons.
So why don’t I throw in the towel on this and just endlessly and happily knit swatches, subjecting my relatives to endless amounts of pot holders for holidays?
I mean– I considered it.
One of the things you learn in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is that working on mastery of a skill helps you to gain confidence and self esteem. While I have ENORMOUS bluster and can convince others that I have these things, I really need more. So I’m sticking with it.
Again: not jumping in with two feet. Tonight, I will knit in the round with three needles and use ONLY KNIT STITCH. IF it gets tangled and knotted, I will press on, because I won’t be worried about ruining a project. I know this will make me calmer and better able to enjoy the rhythm of it.
That said, this is clearly not my favorite kind of knitting and I’ll only be using it when making things smaller than 16 inches (the smallest cable needles you can get are 16 inches). I think it’s the interruption of the flow: switching from needle to needle. Just as I get a rhythm, I have to re-arrange everything.
Maybe someday I’ll turn that into a rhythm in itself, too. But for now, knitting will be helping me with my self esteem rather than being a self soothing technique. And that’s okay, goddamnit.
PS Two other things I did, which I never would have done before therapy:
- I printed a copy of the pattern which before I’d have felt guilty about doing since it kills 1/12345678th of a tree.
- I went online and bought myself a bright light to hang around my neck so that my knitting will be lit up like a Christmas tree.
People who grow up in poor dysfunctional families learn that to spend money on ourselves is the highest form of selfishness possible. It is unthinkable, really. We should be handing over our ENTIRE paychecks to Mom (which I did). We are not worth it (which I am), anyway. We don’t deserve to have comfortable things that help us with foolish, pointless hobbies. Plus, we learn to Make Do and just Deal With It, squinting at our fucking cell phones on the dim porch instead of it even occurring to us that we have any power to change things.
TAKE THAT, Upbringing! HA.
*those who know me personally might be confused by my pronoun here; Dax goes by either he or she so I’m sticking with ‘she’ in this blog to avoid confusion.