Almost, a few ways

Joe’s been gone six days now. It’s a long time apart for us, and as much as I enjoy time alone, I’m ready for him to come back. There’s a certain luxury and magic in time alone – I eat what I want, do what I want, keep the schedule that suits me, and for the first few days, I revelled in that. The fourth day I started bugging my friends, and by yesterday, the down side of this much time alone started to show up. One of the things I like best about alone time is the chance to think.  It might be the byproduct of all those years as a mum with little kids, with never a single moment to think things through, but I love it.  Too much time alone though? The result is too much thinking. By day six, I’ve become what I think of as “The Queen of What If”.  What if that squirrel comes back and eats another hole in the roof and we need to fix it?  What if I that thing I said to my friend was the wrong thing? What if I made a parenting mistake when Amanda was three?

Now, being the Queen of What If isn’t always a terrible thing. I like how it helps me think of problems before they happen, and how well it lends itself to imagination, but it can also be a sinkhole.  Too much time in that place, and I find myself agonizing all day, and laying awake at night examining every minor and inconsequential problem I’ve ever had in minute detail, and carefully thinking through every mistake I might ever have made, while simultaneously worrying about all the mistakes I’m very likely about to make, while synchronizing that with trying to solve problems like world poverty.

Usually, at some point in that scene, Joe comes home from work, and I tell him about the potential problem with the squirrel who hasn’t arrived yet, and how we’d better begin saving up for the roof, because it’s only one of about twelve situations that we’d going to have to start getting anxious about, and he’ll look at me and say, in the kindest, and most nonchalant way possible “You’re a crazy lady. You know that, right?”

He says that, and that’s it. I’m yanked right back into the real world, and we have dinner, or watch a movie, and he makes a thousand jokes, and I go right back to thinking about things like rogue squirrels the exact amount that a sane person should, and totally leave off with phoning my children and telling them that we should have dinner together because I’ve thought it over and we need to talk about the plan for the whole rest of their lives. (Our daughters will be especially glad of Joe’s return this week.)

Without him, the crazy train rolls into the station, and there’s not a lot to keep me from buying a ticket for a nice long ride, and I know this about myself, so this week I tried to make a few plans, to have some things to do, and to knit LOTS, because there is nothing that beats down the crazy better than a nice long stretch of knitting.  You’ve  heard the expression “I knit so I don’t kill people”? This is more like “I knit so that I don’t worry about things that can’t be helped anyway.”  Behold, the object of my intention:

little dress 2015-09-03

It’s that little dress I mentioned a while back, and despite that long, full, grey skirt being a bit of a long, dark, tea-time of the soul, it’s getting there. Another bit of knitting today and I’ll be at the border of the skirt, and that border is only 28 rounds, and even though the rounds have more than 300 stitches, how long can that take? (I’m me, and I’ve ben alone a lot, so I can actually tell you. It’s about 2.5 hours, if I don’t take any breaks for coffee, instagram, or texting all of my friends to tell them what in their lives I’ve been worried about too.)  When I realized that I was actually that close to the end of the knitting, which meant that I was that close to the start of the crochet, it occurred to me that I might want to get myself together in that department.  Namely, I wondered if A) I know enough about crochet to get that part done, and thought I might want to start looking up techniques and figuring out what exactly the European pattern means when it says Double Crochet – since the answer can vary, and B) I figured I should get a crochet hook.

hooks 2015-09-03

Now, it’s not like a little crochet doesn’t come up here and there in knitting – I hook when I have to, and I use crochet hooks as knitting rescue tools all the time, but because I’m not a crocheter, I don’t have a full company of crochet hooks. As a  matter of fact, all the ones I own are in that picture, and after giving the pattern for the little flowers a go, I was able to figure out three things. A) I did it wrong. B) I have the wrong hook. C) I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I think it would be easier with the right hook.   Off I went to the craft store, where I bought a hook that I think is both better, and the right size, and while I was doing that I think I figured out what the instructions probably mean, and so – I’ll give it another go tomorrow.  I think I got this.

flowerdet 2015-09-03

Now, another round of Karmic Balancing Gifts? (There’s still a lot.)

Helle wrote me with two great presents, the first is some Sandy’s Palette Coopworth fleece 4.6oz, a bar of soap from The Felted Soap Lady, and a dragonfly candle holder that she’ll be sending to Joanna S.

helleroving 2015-09-03

The second is for Celeste N and it’s Knitspot Regatta sock pattern and 2 skeins of Lorna’s Laces hand-dyed Shepherd Sock. Thanks Helle!

hellesocks 2015-09-03

From Deike, four amazing gifts! First, for Rhian D, 100 gr tussah silk roving, unbleached. and Deike says it’s amazingly soft.

Deiketussah 2015-09-03

Second, isn’t this pretty?  It’s 100g of wool, dyed with madder that will be going to live with Andrea M.

Deikepinkroving 2015-09-03

Third – some of Dieke’s own beautiful handspun.  Two 2 skeins Wensleydale/Merino wool in rainbow colours. The skeins were spun to roughly match in colour progression, and I’m sure that Cordula B is going to thrilled with that.

Deikehandspun 2015-09-03

Last, but not least, Deike has inexplicably knit herself a Colour Affection shawl that she’s never going to wear. (Why we do these things, I don’t know, but we all do it.)  She’s going to trust Karma to find it a home with someone who loves it more – and behold, I really hope that’s Liz F.

Deikeaffection 2015-09-03

Diane got a Karmic Balancing gift last year, and so this year she’s paying it forward, and this gorgeous skein of Madeleine Tosh Sock in Tart is going home to live with Jamiee A.

Dianetoshsock 2015-09-03

Meredyth went on a stash dive and came up with three skeins of hand painted LaJolla superwash Merino. One Brazilian Emerald for Dee J,

meredythgreen 2015-09-03

My Sweet Valentine for Kate C,

meredythpink 2015-09-03

and Singin’ the Blues for Sylvia S. Thanks so much Meredyth!

meredythblue 2015-09-03

Emily also got a gift last year, and she’d like to pay it forward as well. She has a skein of Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock in the Cognac colorway.  That’s for Melissa H and she is welcome to choose one of Emily’s independently sold patterns from her shop on Ravelry as well!
emilyirish 2015-09-03

Jenn and Meghan make  beautiful pottery at their beautiful shop JamPDX, and they’ve got a very charming yarn bowl to send to Beth R. Isn’t it lovely?

yarnbowl 2015-09-03

Cat, from CaterpillarGreen Yarns (you know how I feel about that one) has a generous gift for Diane T.  One large skein self-striping shawl yarn in “Concrete and Tulips”. (She points out that the gift is the skein of yarn, not the shawl beneath it, which is her precious baby.)

concretetulips 2015-09-03

Jane sent along this pretty picture, along with saying “I will send a spinner 6 ounces of roving from  one of my alpacas.  (That’s a link to her shop.) He is gray and I mixed his fleece  60/40 with wool (merino we think but not sure) that had white in it.  I dyed the whole lot in these beautiful colors and the pink is gorgeous, spins up to a lovely heathery pinkish.  I prepped the fiber at a small mill in Michigan where you work along side her.  It’s been picked and carded into roving. ”  I think it’s lovely already, and I hope that Anne M loves it too.
janeroving 2015-09-03

Steph at Three Fates Yarn has a gift of a beautiful gradient kit – It is 400 yards of sock yarn in “Museum of Contemporary Craft/A Very Aqua Fluevog” colourway, and it is going to live with Jerry D, who I bet feels like a pretty lucky duck right now.

threefatesgradient 2015-09-03

Sarah, over at The Martini Knitter, has a very nice present.  2-at-a-time Socks, and yarn to go with it! She’ll be sending that along to Cindy M.

sarahsockbook 2015-09-03

Maggie went for a wander through the stash, and came up with the perfect things.  She’s going to send this skein of Rohrspatz & Wollmeise Twin in  Merlot to Cheryl M. Maggie’s been saving it for something special, and I’m honoured that she thinks the Rally is special enough.

maggiewoolmeise 2015-09-03

That wasn’t enough for Maggie, so she went back into the stash and chose this yarn specially.  A ball of self striping sock yarn and the color is “Best Friend” with 3 rows “Lean on Me”, 3 rows “Bestie”, 3 rows “I’ll be there” all surrounded by 5 rows “BFF. ”  Perfect for a Karmic Balancing gift, and I hope that Penny B feels the love.
maggielollipop 2015-09-03

Finally, though I hate to end this party, but have got to do something else with the remains of the day… Kathleen has this very, very nice hand painted roving that she’ll be sending to Jessica F. Thank you Kathleen, you’re wonderful.

kathleenroving 2015-09-03

That’s it! Whew – that put a bigger dent in the pile… I can almost imagine the end is in sight – though we’re not done yet.  More tomorrow!


55 thoughts on “Almost, a few ways

  1. I know exactly how you feel! I enjoy a little bit of time alone in the house, but then it starts to feel really weird. I hope Joe is home soon so you can stop worrying about the What Ifs!

  2. I do this too, only I also do it when I’m stressed about a work deadline. The only think I’ve found that can solve it is….rock climbing. I was really hoping for the last few years that it would be knitting or spinning (spinning came close), but I learned this summer, when I’m clinging for dear life by my fingertips I get this zen like focus on, well, not falling and suddenly that thing I was working up a good head of steam about has been totally forgotten.

  3. I’m going to steal “long dark tea-time of the soul” knitting. I usually refer to the long, existential bit of stockinette as “BBC Miniseries knitting”, where you get distracted enough by the drama that you are able to ignore the eight squillion stitches that are all the same.

  4. Get out on the bike or the boat and let the wind blow the gremlins away. A walk to the village for good red wine might work as well.

  5. I know what you mean about being alone–how it starts great and gets less so, but I’m puzzled by your comment about how knitting keeps your from worrying about things that really don’t need it. When it comes to knitting and worrying, I am a multi-tasker. Knitting does take the edge off panic and free-floating anxiety, though. That baby dress, BTW, makes me wish for granddaughters.

  6. “Too much time alone” are four words that, for me, never, ever, occur together in that particular sequence a sentence …..

    There’s a three day weekend coming in the US, and I woke up this morning desperate for it to already be Friday…..

  7. I’m so glad you have Joe to yank you back to the present moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn and Jack Kornfield both tell us that life is simply a succession of present moments, and that when we spiral off to the past or the future we are missing the now, which, in reality, is all we have. “Letting go” has become a modern-day cliche, but it is true nevertheless. Enjoy every stitch, color of yarn, the click of the needles, the feel of the fiber sliding through your fingers, take a deep breath and let go. Knitting is the best mindfulness meditation there is.

  8. I just got an email from you – I’m PennyB – whoo hoo. Beautiful self-striping sock yarn like that is rare on the English side of the pond. So happy and dumbstruck (I never win anything). I’ll definitely pay it forward next year. Xxxxxx

    • I’m the girl sending it to Penny and so happy to give her a bit of happy feet. Enjoy it Penny, hopefully it isn’t on the slow boat to China route.

  9. I love your story. I understand exactly what you mean. But maybe the favorite words here this time were:
    “Last, but not least, Deike has inexplicably knit herself a Colour Affection shawl that she’s never going to wear….She’s going to trust Karma to find it a home with someone who loves it more,”

    That’s a lot of knitting to give away. Good for her!

  10. And I thought I was the only, only, one who thought this way…thanks for making me laugh out loud again and feel so much better!

  11. I enjoy my own own company and always looked forward to having time alone in the house. Then in February my husband went away for a week for the third time in two years, and on a snowy Saturday night after four days by myself I realized that there is a big difference between alone for an evening and alone for a week. Not so keen on the second one. I told my sister I hope I go first, because I don’t want to live alone. She couldn’t find a reply that sounded OK. “I hope so too” didn’t sound like the response of a loving sister, and yet she wants me to be happy. It made us laugh – and think!

  12. It looks like you have those darling Dale of Norway crocheted violets well in hand. What a super sweet dress! (Notice thar the word “jumper” is avoided, The Blog being an international bunch). Do, please, bring it and your latest cowl to the Wisconsin retreat… So very excited to meet you, hear you and see your work first hand!!!
    About alone time: With 29 years on you perhaps I can claim “Queen Mother of What If”? My daughters would say there should be no perhaps in that statement. Fortunately Mr. Rational returns in about 27 hours, but I don’t have a tenth of what you have accomplished to show for the peace and quiet.

  13. Oh, the “WHAT IF….”……it needs to die in a fire!

    With the crochet hooks….I seem to have a rather obscene amount for someone that does not crochet. To be fair, I inherited all but maybe 2 or 3 from my grandmother and mother (and only 2 or 3 of the ones I inherited were from my mother). I also have a bunch of those teeny tiny crochet hooks, made of bone. Some of them are worn to the point that the hook is almost entirely gone. It means my grandmother used them quite well. I, on the other hand, keep them in a safe place, looking pretty 🙂

  14. “What if I made a parenting mistake when Amanda was three?” You probably did, and with Megan, and with Sam. We all have and fortunately our children turned out to be wonderful people in spite of our ineptitude.

  15. Oh my, the comment from Joe while on the boat before he left , “My flight leaves at 9 ” had me rolling around laughing. Now, his comment about you being a crazy lady just broke me up again . My husband has been gone for 5 days and I was ALL about having alone time. So I made a mess of everything and on day 4 decided that there is a reason that we try to keep things picked up. I’m ready for some routine again. Your post was so timely.

  16. Will it help if I tell you Prince is doing a 3 day dance party/shindig at Paisley Park (thats in MN…) where there is talk he might even show up to do a preview of his new music…. $40 gets you in the door, and food. 3 days, you could come here and back….

  17. My husband used to enjoy the time alone when I’d go with the kids to visit my parents… for about 4 days.

    And kids being kids, mine would respond to a parental decree “Well, what if (insert hypothetical situation or circumstance here…” Whereupon I would firmly state, “I don’t play ‘What if’.”

  18. Knitting and happy anticipation go a long way towards getting through such times. Traveling apart time is hard. (And I am off to go search for some of that MadTosh Tart color. Gorgeous.)

  19. That Tosh color is one I’ve been coveting, but can’t justify buying as I have enough stash to open my own yarn store…sigh

  20. Ooh, I won something!?! Thank you! It will be fun to knit something different from my usual picks and push my comfort zone out some more.

    Monkey mind, I call it. Normal but extremely annoying. Soft yarn and knitting helps me relax and see it for what it is: a small critter running around in aimless circles. Not important.

  21. My husband left last night on a 10 day trip, and I woke (after a restless night) thinking that being alone for the day and expecting him home later is very, very different from being ALONE for 10 days. And I am a very good Alone Person, never bored, never lonely. This time…not so much already. So, I will fill my time with closet straightening, mom-visiting, grandchildren-playing, and a lot of knitting, beginning with that project I’ve been looking forward to…and vow to plan shorter separations when necessary from now on.

  22. I think my favourite part was the line about worry of a parenting mistake when Amanda was three. As a mom, and a person who tends to this. As for the generosity of those who supported The Rally with the Karmic Balancing gifts, thank you all.

  23. Dang it! I am a professional needless worrier. Now I know why I should’ve gotten married! And here I have been needlessly fearing a bad marriage when all this time I could have been married and a semi-professional worrier. Double Dang it!

    • “needless worrier”…I was voted best worrier in my high school class. I like to think I’m not as much a worrier as I was then, but perhaps not.

      • An uncle once remarked sadly to my mother, ‘Liz, you’d be undressed without your worries!’ Unfortunately there seems to be a genetic component in worrying …..

  24. I live alone. I agree that being alone too long, one does obsess or over-react to small things. It’s easy to lose perspective. Luckily, Joe will come home and help you reset.

  25. I live in a house where I rarely alone small children and grown up kids still at home but to be honest I’d be lost without them lol
    My youngest is off to nursery school next week I have what feels like years of housework to catch up on although I’d love to do nothing but knitting all day instead so I’d better keep myself in check.

  26. I have always enjoyed reading about your connection with & love for Newfoundland. And here I am, in St. John’s, and I am constantly impressed with the people & places. We’ve had wonderful conversations with the locals, lots of excellent beer, and deeply informative & moving looks at the history of the island at The Rooms, on Signal Hill, and at the Geo Centre. Tomorrow we start riding the western part of the island. But why I’m writing is to say how timely your “over-do the kindness” blog was…my husband & I have ridden our motorcycles from Peterborough, and that’s a lot of time spent together given we’re travelling for 3 weeks in all. So your tip for marital harmony is in the back of my mind. Thanks for that. And enjoy Joe’s return!

  27. I love time alone! Knitting, eating, and reading whenever and where ever I want. But, it is nice when they come home. I’m glad you enjoyed your week. Thoughts gone wild!

  28. I hear you on the “crazy train” issue. Years ago, a good friend looked me in the eye and said, “Your brain at rest is not pretty to watch.” And so, I knit to keep myself from redesigning the house, organizing the world in a much better way, driving the satellites to make TV channels clearer. Oh oh. Must go back to knitting now………

  29. Thank you, Steph, I truly thought I was the only crazy person that did this! I am an insomniac so most of the time I begin to think this way in the middle of the night, not good. So I have to get up and read a little to make my brain stop. (I have trouble getting the eyes to focus at 2 am so I can increase my kindle to gigantic and read away.) I do love alone time, though, good for the soul.

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