“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”
I quit my job last month. In the weeks leading up to the decision, I knit Hannah Fettig’s Lightweight Pullover. I finished that up the week I quit. I have always been aware that I use knitting to assist in processing my day to day life. I pick projects and yarn based on how I feel, and often find that the finished items stubbornly cling to the life events attached to them. When I have knitted items that pair with especially stressful times in my life, they help me find clarity about why I was stressed in the first place. The finished garment is saturated with vivid memories that I can easily access just by glancing at it in my closet. Knitting helps me reign in my thoughts and emotions, so they can actually be responded to in a meaningful way. If that isn’t a coping mechanism, I don’t know what is. Despite the obviousness of this to me, I have never considered that a project could illuminate the “why” of my stress while I was working on it.
I began this sweater back in March, inspired by the momentum my Fauna design sparked in my knitting. At first, I was motivated only by a desire to do a sweater’s worth of stash busting (boy did I, 8 skeins!) and a craving for a “wardrobe staple” knit. I figured the five skeins of Lotus Yarn- Mimi in tobacco brown would be perfect, especially since they’ve been loitering in my stash for five years. The tan, stockinette, top-down- raglan that every knitter needs, made out of no less than laceweight mink to make up for the miles of knitting. I breezed through the nine inches of cowl, but when I reached for a fresh ball of yarn, I spotted two more skeins of Mimi yarn in teal and kiwi green poking out of my stash. An impulse buy from three years ago. Tan sweaters are boring anyhow.
As I made my way past the raglan increases and began adding in stripes of color, a change occurred. I picked up a curious tension in my knitting. It lead to significant laddering in the fabric, and no matter how conscious I tried to be, I could not shake the tension in my hands that was cramping my fingers and constantly breaking my yarn. I would sit down to knit a few rounds, and my yarn would snap, or I would become so flustered with the persistent laddering in my sleeves, that I would give up. For the first time, since learning to knit, I went days at a time without picking up my needles. Other projects languished and I gave what little energy I had remaining at the end of the day to Netflix and an early bedtime.
Pretty soon, it became obvious that I was so stressed out that it was significantly impairing my knitting. My knitting life is…let’s use the word foundational. So when I realized my foundation was crumbling below me, I looked up and was not surprised to find that nearly every other area of my life was also suffering. Something, a very big something, was wrecking everything. I tried to do damage control, to form new habits and schedule my time better. I tried meal planning and working out, setting a timer for self care, all the adulting hacks. But nothing worked, because when your foundation is cracked, no topical balm is going to fix it. You’ve got to tear down everything and start over. Of course, I resisted this truth for a good long while. I mean, I can’t just quit my dream job, can I? What about savings, and vacations, and security? I hear quitting your job is the opposite of how to adult. I kept telling myself “just a little bit longer, and it’ll get better, just wait.” I continued to not knit and to struggle to make it to the end of the day, every day. And then I got sick. Really sick, for three weeks. Being stuck on your couch crying over how ridiculously ill you feel doesn’t have a dollar amount, and pretty quickly ideals of how much money you need in your savings account turn to dust and float away. I put in my four weeks notice after being offered a raise.
So, I quit. Now what? Well, now the real work begins, right? The work of addressing the damaged and crumbly parts of life and trying to find new ways to re-build, sorting out all the reasons it went wrong in the first place. The first thing to address was my health. I reached out for help in making lifestyle changes. I detoxed. I cried a lot. I found a mentor at my church. The Monday after my last week I went on vacation and spent a week with my soul sister (whose as addicted to knitting as I am). The difference was immediate and overwhelming. I’d felt so drained of energy and creativity for months, but finally addressing the issue in a meaningful way made me realize that I wasn’t drained, to the contrary I was about to overflow with creativity, I was about to burst at the seams with it, and something, a very heavy something, was sitting on me, jamming the flow. The pain I experienced was the agony of pressure. Pressure to notice something is wrong, pressure to do something, pressure to change. As soon as I submitted to this, I felt relief.
A while back, when I first moved to KC and found the yarn shop, I mentioned to the owner that I’d worked at a yarn shop before and it was the best job ever. She told me she might need more help around the shop come fall and I reminded her that I had a full time job. In the days leading up to my last day of work, I mentioned to her that was quitting. “So you could work three days a week here?” Yes. Yes I can.
While on vacation, my friend insisted we visit her local yarn shop while I was visiting (of course) and I was nervous, wondering if my “mojo” would already be back so soon after quitting. I stepped into the shop and came face to face with a wall a Hedgehog Fibers. I’d never gotten to knit with this delightful yarn before, but was very familiar with how magical it was. I grabbed a skein. I think that magic is back.