Thursday, December 18, 2008

Synchronicities, A Yarn Of Craft And Art

My Mom picked up her knitting in the last years of her life. She made me and two of my sisters a sweater each. Due to their skin sensitivity to wool, I got all three. I cherish those scratchy, large handmade blankets with arms. When we sorted through the house after her death, we found screwdrivers, keys, tape and lighters in every drawer, cupboard and orifice possible. As well, yarn, needles and knitting paraphernalia adorned the "unders" of places - under the couch, under the bed, under the table... As timing would have it, my friend from college (we met summer of 1985) gleefully shared with me her intention to take a beginner's knitting class. I hastily taped up a care package which her new teacher itemized for her on the first day of class.

While organizing the gifts from my childhood home, the paintings and dishes, the jewels and trinkets, the memories and confirmed suspicions, I thought to take up knitting myself. Now, this is a sharp edge for me. I am afraid of pickles and arts-n-crafts. But, as this is a time to conquer strange fears and idiosyncrasies (I am saving pickles for after India), I put together a bag of yarn and needles for the walk on the crafty wild side. My friend, Danette, taught me how to knit and how to pearl on the eve before I attended the 8 day Zen meditation retreat, called a seshin (pardon the spelling, but it is Japanese, and I haven't gotten around to that yet, I am still fixated on learning Sanskrit!)

During the tour of the Zen Center, I noticed a project in yarn on my room mate's bed. Keep in mind, these retreats are held in what is called noble silence. No talking. No looking at each other. No books, journals, computers, i-pods, news, etc. But, I asked, "Can I knit?" The answer was yes. I knitted and undid, stitched and then unwound the stitches, made and unmade unidentified woolly objects throughout the week. I embraced impermanence like the monks who blow away the sand mandala, like the sand castle architect, like the minute hand of a Swatch wrist watch. I am not afraid of knitting, messy stitches, dropped loops, split thread, frayed ends. I can wield the needle, wind the wool, cast on and cast off.

Whether or not I finish anything recognizable has yet to be determined, but when I returned to my friend's house, after a 2 week separation while I meditated and then visited Sedona, we made the serendipitous discovery that we had selected the same exact yarn from the vast Michael's collection. It is called "Waterfall" and has cascading shades of blue and purple fuzzily strung out in a ziggy shape as it unwinds from is skein. It is mostly polyester and very soft. We sat in her house knitting and pearling while the tiny flakes of snow flunk themselves to the Albuquerque sprawl. I am making a scarf and she is making a hat. And I am not so scared of crafts anymore, but I am still very much in the beginner's stages of making it an art. I have a beginner's mind, beginner's stitch and a beginner's zeal. Pardon me, please, while I get back to the waterfall....

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