For months now I’ve been telling anyone who complains that they’re off their game that these are exceptional times, and you’re allowed to roll with it however you need to. I reassure them that trying to weather personal storms while in the midst of global loss and fear in frightening times is challenging, and that if it means you’re not as productive or tidy or cheerful or laissez faire as usual, that’s cool. It’s a time to be gentle with yourself I say. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.
I go away then, having said just that, and do (for the most part) the opposite. Instead of reassuring myself that I’m actually doing pretty well, what with this being the most craptastic half year of my life, I have been making little lists of the ways that I am screwing it up. You were going to blog every day during the pandemic, I tell myself. You were going to spin when it rains. What happened to brushing up on your Spanish, and weren’t you going to run a 5k? Be in the best shape of your life? Write two books? Bake bread for all your friends, and while we’re at it, isn’t the house supposed to be cleaner than ever now that you’re in it all the time? (This one is epic. Turns out that being constantly in your house and using it for every aspect of your life trashes the joint. Who knew?)
I go to bed thinking essentially that tomorrow is going to be the day that I “get it all together” which is an awesome set-up for the next day, because it’s a goal that’s lofty but vague and therefore largely impossible to follow through on, and then I can disappoint myself properly that day too. I’ve essentially been setting a self-esteem trap every day and it turns out I’m great at it.
I’ve been wondering how to come back here every day when I’ve failed yet again, and it stalls me right out. I’ll have to apologize (again) I tell myself. I’ll just tell the blog I’m sorry and I’ll do better from here on, and THIS WILL BE THE DAY I GET IT TOGETHER.
Well, it turns out it’s probably not. This is a time of great transition, and I want to be clear that I’m not miserable over here – I’m not lying at the bottom of a pit of despair ignoring a ladder right next to me. There’s good things and great things and bad things and for the most part I feel okay about how this family is doing. I feel good about inventing a new job and getting us out of trouble, and I feel good about being as available to Elliot as I have been – If the kid can only have a few people in his life, they should be dedicated. I feel terrific about the time we’ve been able to spend together as a family this summer. I feel bad about how sad we are some days, and I feel sad too when I think of how many families feel the way that we do right now, with so much loss all around us. I don’t know how things are where you live, but here we are still under restrictions, mostly increasing ones right now, and our world is tiny, and having the world shrink to this family and this house sometimes makes it hard to see outside of it. (I realized the other day that I have lost my wallet. I mean, I’m sure it’s here somewhere, but it’s been seven months since I was in a store so its location has sort of slipped by me.) It is a strange and terrible time, and there are days when I just can’t be cheerful about it, and then days when I am with my family and I think that we’re in great shape, for the shape we’re in.
I miss my friends (especially my American ones) and travelling and knitting classes and conferences and Port Ludlow, and I dread the coming winter when our ability to see people out-of-doors and distanced will go away, and I feel bad for Joe that there’s not likely to be skiing this year, and I am worried about his parents who’s world has been very, very small for so long now. I really wish we had a fireplace, or that those backyard firepit thingies were legal here. I have anxiety about the holidays, worried about what size and shape they will be and what we will do, and I asked on instagram the other day what people were looking forward to this winter (since I was short of inspiration myself) and there were great answers. Candles and soup, twinkle lights in every room, walks in the snow, movie nights, warm jammies, knitting mittens, the knowledge that I don’t have to put on real clothes for another few months….there is a list of good things. A big list.
I don’t know why I’m telling you all this, except that you are the blog. I am okay over here, I think. I worry sometimes that something is broken in us after all this, that we will never be the same, and I think that’s true. I think too many hard things happened to us too fast, and after this we will be different, and I think that’s okay. Different doesn’t mean bad, just changed, and maybe if I concede that I’ll stop waiting to feel the way I used to and just try to get used to…. whatever is normal for right now? I’m trying to figure out what normal grief looks like if we’re enduring a pandemic and damned if I know, but I wanted to tell you that I’m trying officially, starting now- to let myself off the hook for all of the messiness I experience while I figure it out. (Both literally, and figuratively.)
Of course, it’s possible that knitting an enormous grey blanket isn’t helping – never mind a grey blanket I screwed up. It’s been a while since I made a spectacularly enormous knitting error, but here you go, this one’s a classic. Years ago, I knit the MDK Moderne Log Cabin Blanket. It went fine. I loved how it turned out. Sure, that neutral garter stitch does sort of go on a bit (if you understand that “by go on a bit” I mean that you’ll weep near the end and beg for it to be over) but the result is so, so lovely. So, I decided to make it again. (I gave away the last one.) I ordered the same yarn, I opened up the book, and I started. Joe and I were going away for three days, and it was the perfect time to get a big chunk of it done, and I did. I started as we began our long drive, with a very good feeling.
Now, here’s the thing. It seemed kinda big from the get go. Much larger than the last time, but I just thought to myself that I didn’t recall correctly, and I kept going. Our getaway was a little yurt deep in the woods (the girls gave it to me for a birthday present. Neat, right?) No running water (except the river) no electricity, no civilization of any kind, and I thought that this would be perfect timing to really bash out a chunk of this blanket, and it was.
The setting was idylic, and I had hours knitting by the woodstove by candlelight listening to audiobooks, and grand fun knitting by the fire. It was super cold while we were there too (almost zero at night) and that by itself was pretty inspiring in the blanket department.
I can’t explain it, but I did notice it was too big, but I kept thinking that it was going to work out. (Insane knitter theory #4: If I keep going, maybe this will stop looking too big. Essentially the idea that making something bigger will make it smaller. I can’t explain us sometimes.) after three days, Joe and I came out of the woods, and as we drove back to the city, yay verily as the cityscape appeared on the horizon, I came to my senses. It was like being slapped in the face with reason and logic. I opened the book to look at the instructions again and holy cats I am an idiot.
There are two blankets on that page of the book. An adult size, and a baby size. Now, obviously I wanted the adult size so that’s what I was knitting, but the original is knit out of DK weight yarn and I am using a bulky. The minute I looked at it I realized what I’d done last time, and what I should have done this time. Knit the baby size out of bulky to get an adult size. I’d only completed three sections of the thing and it was already halfway to the size I was aiming for.
I came home and ripped it all out, and now I’m taking a second run at it – it’s coming out fine this time, thank you very much.
Though it’s rather possible I’m going to blow a deadline on account of the gaff.
I think I’ll forgive myself for that too.