I know it sounds crazy, but I think I might look back on 2017 as the year that yarn saved me.
(I already feel this way about 2012.)
The last couple months of 2016 and the first few months of this year simply pulled me down into a darkness that I was beginning to think I wouldn’t be able to clamber and climb out of. The general mood of each ensuing day was growing resentment and persistent sadness.
I am not going to pretend that the presidential election didn’t have anything (everything) to do with it. The significance of November 8, 2016 and its devastating effects are undeniable, but I was unprepared for it to affect me so personally. I have been forced to question: Is Trump why I’m depressed?
To be honest, I’m not sure about the answer.
But I do know that the subsequent drive to do something brought with it more questions of what to do, and those questions opened up unexpected vulnerabilities. It became easier to see the hidden discontent that had welled up darkly in the corners of my current occupations. The recipients of my time and money no longer seemed worthy, but I wasn’t sure where to direct those resources now.
I was stuck.
The stuckness hasn’t completely dissipated and I definitely haven’t completely solved the question of what to do with myself, but I can say this: Allowing myself to gravitate toward color and playfulness has lessened the pull of that engulfing darkness.
When I started putting my energy—which had been dwindling down to nothing at an unfathomable rate—toward making things in colors that made me happy, discontent and dread began to be replaced with hopes and dreams.
(It’s so incredibly cheesy, I know.)
But when I say hopes and dreams, I mean it literally. Instead of wallowing in total despair, I started to imagine a future again. Instead of feeling indifferent toward everything, I began to look at tools and materials and see possibilities.
This Frog Prince yarn that I finished spinning the weekend before the election? I had previously lost total interest in it.
I was, for some reason I can’t totally articulate now, disappointed with it—so much so that, for months on end, I never washed and dried to set the twist. It just stayed buried and forgotten in a tote bag.
And then, once I reconnected with yarn, color, and making things, I decided to give Frog Prince a second chance.
And once I cast on, it was like coming out of a trance: I had loved this yarn all along.
The colors that I thought had been muddled in the spinning process suddenly were forming subtle stripes that put me in mind of a graceful rainbow.
As it grew so did my tentative joy.
Its pull became stronger than the darkness, and I began carrying it with me everywhere, like a talisman.
Stitches knit here and there were little acts of hope and, yes, comfort.
I even snuck a few stitches at work. (Shhh.)
Light shone brighter and brighter.
Until finally, yarn was beginning to run out and it was time to cast off all those stitches.
It wasn’t until then that I realized for whom I was knitting this shawl.
I mean, yes, the process of spinning the yarn and knitting the stitches was an act of self-care. Unwittingly, I made this thing for my own healing, but I also made it for someone else.
The making was for me, but the made was for my niece, Victoria.
This gorgeous young woman is a maker, too—an artist.
She is a dreamer about to take flight on her own hopeful adventures.
So for her belated birthday, for this sunny Easter, for her fast-approaching college graduation, and for her beautifully unfolding future, I handed over the shawl that helped me find the Rainbow Connection.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection—the lovers, the dreamers, and me.