Monday, October 6, 2014

The Cure for Melancholia

DSCF5372a

These are the autumn days that remind me of years ago--my own childhood of knee socks and mom-made dresses and brown soft-soled shoes, my green plaid blanket coat with the big pockets full of rocks and buckeyes and interesting bottle caps, my school bag banging against my leg on the way home from the bus stop.  Nancy Drew mysteries.  Metal roller skates.  Whispering at night through the big gap in the paneled wall between my brother’s room and mine, his warm, little kid breath on my face.  We were so close then, almost best friends.  When I couldn’t sleep at night, I tapped on the wall.  “Hey.”  A shuffle, as he woke up.  “Hi.  Whaddaya want to talk about?

DSCF5375a

These blue sky, mercurial days of changing purple clouds and yellow leaves remind me, too, of more recent autumns when the doctor (back then just an engineer) and I loaded our kids and our dog into our VW camper and spent long weekends hiking and canoeing and climbing mountains together.  As we climbed, the children sang songs only they knew, and filled their pockets with rocks, too.  Sometimes, we let them range far ahead of us on the trail, so they could feel that sense of being free in the wild woods, their bobbing orange bandannas just visible in the distance. 

DSCF5370a

I am tempted to get melancholy, not just with the changing of one lovely season into the next, but with my echoing, empty nest grown huge around me.  My beautiful daughter, the one with the mermaid hair, has left home and gone off to make her own life in Philadelphia, and she has taken her big orange tomcat with her, and the space she and her brother--her own childhood best friend--who fledged the nest six weeks ago, have left behind is gaping and strange.  I am tempted to lie on my back listening to sad Nat King Cole songs and letting the tears drip into my ears, but instead, I am knitting. 

DSCF5368a

I finally finished this scarf, and it is a thing of gossamer beauty, just as I hoped.  It took at least as long as a blanket would take, and was a lot less interesting to work on, but the end result, as I knew it would be, is completely worth all the endless hours of ennui. 

DSCF5369a

It is nothing more than a massive stockinette rectangle using about 1000 yards of laceweight yarn, worked on US 3 straight needles.  I know.  I love this kind of boredom, and if you do too, I can recommend a project like this wholeheartedly for when you just need the sheer solace of plain work.  It doesn’t get any more mindless than this, and I totally loved/hated making it.  It was impossible to make visible progress on it—hours of knitting resulted in the remaining yarn ball getting no smaller, so not only does a thing like this soothe the nerves but it also defies science!  Magic! 

I know you want to know what yarn I used, but I’m ashamed to say I still can’t seem to keep track of a ball band, no matter how hard I try, so I don’t know.  It is very fine laceweight, and there were 1000 yards of it (which I used all up) and I would describe the color as some kind of light grayish-periwinkle.  If that helps at all.  Really, if you want to make one of these, just pick out any fine laceweight yarn in a color you love, take up your US size 3 needles and cast on 100 stitches.  Then just work in stockinette stitch until the yarn runs out, block the finished piece using blocking wires or string, and that’s it, you have a beautiful wrap that looks like it was made by woodland fairies out of spider gossamer.  Presto.  My wrap blocked out to 14” x 96”. 

DSCF5381a

What else is life but joy mixed with tears, peace interrupted by chaos, summer followed by fall? 

34 comments:

  1. I love your scarf, just the thing you needed I think. There is always a gaping hole when our kids are away from us, I feel like part of my heart is missing when my son is away at school, and now with another one getting ready to leave the nest, the hole is getting bigger.
    Hugs to you,
    Meredith

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sending HUGE love and hugs xxx (ps keep knitting... it's the ONLY therapy!)

    ReplyDelete
  3. everything is true and full of emotions. I share...hugs
    Simona

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've been where you are right now. Let me tell you it gets easier. You will find a new routine...a new rhythm. And it opens up new opportunities. Hang in there.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The circle of life my friend. Don't worry they will return and there will be more of them in tow, when they hook up with their intendeds, get married, have babies. It's not all bad, honestly. That empty feeling won't last forever and you're lucky that you have your husband there for company and support. Love your new wrap. x

    ReplyDelete
  6. I wish I had the patience for a project like this! Truly stunning !
    Frankie
    http://www.knitwits-owls.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1

    ReplyDelete
  7. Beautiful! It DOES look like fairies made it. My heart feels your angst. All of mine have left the nest and live far away. I ache for my babies sometimes. Ah, the empty nest is not what I dreamed of when they were small.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

    ReplyDelete
  8. Beautiful!!! Very clever indeed!!!

    Sending hugs to you.....

    Carly

    x

    ReplyDelete
  9. A very poignant post. I can identify with the tears dripping in ears, usually followed by an almighty sniff to 'pull yourself together'. It's so hard when they fledge. Knitting as you know is the answer to most things:)

    Jean
    x

    ReplyDelete
  10. I hope some virtual hugs are also a cure for the melancholy. I hope the fledglings will come back for a visit soon. Your scarf is absolutely beautiful, a wisp of cloud for a wood sprite's chilly neck. x

    ReplyDelete
  11. It is beautiful!! Glad that it filled your gap and comforted you, I hope that it will keep providing comfort when you wear it. xx

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a beautiful post. First the warmth and security of your own childhood memories then those of your own children. As my second one is getting ready to go I can so completely empathise with everything you've said - but if you didn't feel melancholic you wouldn't be a normal mum! Hugs and empathy x Jane

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Kristen! Your scarf is beautiful in it's simplicity! I love how the colour suits you! Thanks for sharing your emotions with us, this is a time of flux and it does take a while to adjust!
    Hugs,
    Ingrid xx
    http://myfunkycrochet.blogspot.be

    ReplyDelete
  14. You brought tears to my eyes. I could not have said it any better.

    We are far to the other side of the empty nest now. It is true: they come back with their lives full of other wonderful beings! Interesting friends, loving spouses, joyful grands and new stories to tell.
    Now you get to try/learn new things...anything you want. Go exploring! It's wonderful! Deb/California

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh my dear Kirsten. It's amazing how difficult it must br and how st try tong you are. My daughter will finish HS this next year and I m already having a hard time ... We need to be stronger ... It helps with positive attitude, nevertheless it's a hard transition. Good luck my friend.m :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. So wonderful to share yourself with us - you touch so many people! P.S. who is your great photographer? I presume it's the doctor/engineer? I'm imagining the photo shoots we see of the professionals - where a hundred shots are taken in rapid succession to get the perfect ones!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Auntie B. Yes, photos with me in them are always taken by the doctor, and all other photos are taken by me. There are always quite a few throwaways. :)

      Delete
  17. Still hoping for some how-to blocking photos. I can't imagine 96"!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It usually involves moving the furniture out of the way, spending an hour crawling around on the floor, and a whole bunch of pins. :)

      Delete
  18. I remember seeing your post when this beauty was being knitted, and loving the idea of the 'mindlessness' of it. So bought myself some Debbie Bliss Rialto lace in a glorious magenta, and knitted away. It's so deliciously soft around my neck. I'm now on another mindless scarf, this time a simple two row chevron pattern from Jane Brockett's 'The Gentle Art of Knitting' using a fine merino wool in palest grey and purple.

    ReplyDelete
  19. It's great to have a project to work on that you don't have to think about too much. I knit a lace wrap in laceweight wool - a beautiful peacock green that was hand dyed (not by me). The pattern was complicated and required my full attention. It took such a long time to knit - it grew very slowly. But finally it was finished and was worth the hours it took to make. I love yours - so simple but very stylish.

    ReplyDelete
  20. The scarf is gorgeous! Transition time is always difficult, I reckon, grieving for the fun of the past. But take heart, there are great days ahead, it just takes some getting used to. Hugs, Chris xx

    ReplyDelete
  21. Sending a snuggly big hug - keep at the knitting until you feel back on an even keel

    ReplyDelete
  22. Kristen, you've described your early autumn melancholia very well. I've never had any children myself, but think I've some understanding of what you feel.

    I know that I understand the power of knitting. I definitely know that you've created a beautiful whisper of a shawl. It's lovely, and the doctor's photographs are very good. Let's see...there was something else. Oh yes, I don't think I've mentioned before that I really do like your new hairstyle.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think you needed this scarf. I can just imagine how you're feeling. Can I say that your hair looks beautiful? I really like it this way, your curls are pretty.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I loved rearing a large family, but I love the empty nest too! I almost feel guilty saying this, but I feel I have gotten my life back. One of the first things I did was to sign up for knitting lessons! So much fun.
    The best way is forward, I think. Children marry and have wonderful spouses and grandchildren are the best. It is a new stage full of surprises and gifts and some self-discovery too. In time, you will grow to love it. I love your blog and am in awe of your knitting talents and all the wonderful garments you create.

    ReplyDelete
  25. but this is just the kind of knitting I adore! I like to sew more than knit and I cannot abide following fiddly knitting patterns (imagine, I trying to knit socks right now - WHY), so I really want to go find out what laceweight yarn is and see if I have size 3 needles. That is a delicious scarf you made.

    I cannot imagine the empty nest years. I guess a lot of people find a new life and a way out, but my mind sort of stops at the idea of that era. My kids are pretty little yet, although my 9-year-old thinks she's a teenager.

    ReplyDelete
  26. It's a lovely scarf. Your knitting posts are always inspiring to me. After years of stripes and multi colours I am starting to embrace plain, simple and slow. It's nice!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I remember that feeling when my older son left home. 18 or 19 years was a long time to build that nest around him and he filled the nest with noise. It does need knitting and painting big projects and watching long tv series on dvd to keep the melancholia at bay. I adore this scarf. It's the perfect colour too.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Your scarf is absolutely beautiful! Very poignant post. I remember when my daughter left for college. What I like to do, is focus on all the good things in life - the Universe works its magic and sends you more good stuff! Have a beautiful week-end.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I am always so blown away by your knitting. I aspire to reach your talents one day, but for now, I'm URGH at it! I so wish I could master it, but it frustrates me no end. My tension is laughable!

    xxxxxxx

    p.s No freakin' way you have kids old enough to fly the nest. I want to look like you when mine reach that age! xxx

    ReplyDelete