Monday, October 6, 2014

The Cure for Melancholia


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?


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. 


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. 


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. 


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”. 


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