Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sticks & String as Security Blankets

I guess it's been awhile since I've blogged. Well, I've been knitting and dyeing of course, but a lot of my time has been spent working on the many Knitting Purls projects. Check out the Knitting Purls blog to see what we have going on. And keep your eyes open for a new ezine, Hooks & String, for all the crocheters out there.

And I've also been doing a lot of thinking about the election and the state of finances. I'm certainly not alone. When it comes to the financial world, we all got a good picture of the influence the US financial market has on the international scene. Many people are scared, and I'm one of them. But, there are, of course, people worse off than I.

On the news the other night, there was a story about how people are handling the stress caused by the roller-coaster financial ride. Sadly, many are turning to unhealthy means to do so, ways that have ramifications for their families and friends.

I started thinking about security blankets. Not literally, though most people probably had one at some time in their life, but figuratively. I remember a stuffed dog I had as a child. It was a very vivid pink, or it had been when new. As a child, I suffered from frequent nightmares. I could always count on this dog (who had a name, but sadly, I have no recollection of what it was) to be there for me when I woke. When I was lonely or feeling overwhelmed, it was first that stuffed dog and then others to whom I turned.

This summer I came to realize that I now see my knitting needles as a security blanket. I didn't know how much they had replaced that long-ago forgotten stuffed animal until this summer. Twice during the summer, homes on my block were destroyed by fire. As my neighbors and I stood across the street watching the firefighters battle the blaze, and praying they'd be able to keep the flames from jumping to the trees leading to our home, I kept thinking how much I wanted my needles. At least if I could knit, I'd be able to do something; I wouldn't feel quite so helpless.

Just a few weeks later, fire again struck our block. While watching the firefighters try in vain to save the house and the one next to it, my thoughts again turned to knitting. Was there something I could knit for these people? Maybe I could organize a collection of handknit items to donate to the families who were now homeless. I felt as though I absolutely had to knit, and it really didn't matter what it was.

Is the fact that I want to drop everything and knit when I'm stressed weird? Perhaps to someone who doesn't knit, but I'm sure there are many knitters who feel the same way. I'm not sure why we do, but I think it has to do with normalcy. When we're faced with things over which we have no control, we seek things we can. (That is one theory behind the development of eating disorders as well.) As we face economic uncertainty due to business failures and other economic downturns, we may feel as though we're helpless. The same is true when facing illness and many other stressors. We've lost control, and it makes us feel helpless, sometimes even useless. So, we go in search of something to bring equilibrium back to our lives. For me--and for many others--that something is knitting. It calms and soothes. It brings stability in an unstable world.