On Healing and loss

… I put away old my old projects. I went through the house and all the travel bags and gathered up those started and planned, bagged with patterns and needles, poised for fibery pleasures. It was like burying a beloved pet. The container they all went into was one of those giant plastic bins; it almost looked like a coffin. I counted and cataloged them, photographed them all. Goodbye my little friends, time to sleep, all of you. I'll be back when my shoulder is fixed. A big box of stored potential, stored dreams.

Now, after almost exactly one year, I pull out my spindles and knitting needles. My first touch of fiber was at SOAR. It was both joyful and sad. I lost skills. I didn’t think that could happen. I had been in a groove. Now I had holes in the corner of my first sock. How could I forget the secret magic to not having those holes? It took me so long to learn those things. How can I forget in only one year? It was crushing to realize I had lost my chops. I feel adrift in a world that was so familiar, like looking in through a window at something I can’t touch.

I have to admit that it was difficult to leave fiber alone at first. I went through my fiber bins, both yarn and fleece. I photographed them all. I weighted them. I cataloged them in database after database. Now, if I want the green silk/merino handspun from MDS&W from 1997, I can just say to fiberguy to go to bin 6 in stack 2 and get the item in this photo; there should be 6.5 oz.
And those projects I so lovingly stored? The ones that held all that potential? Some are ashes in my mouth. A pair of gloves that I loved now are clearly the wrong yarn choice and will be remade properly. I am finishing up the tiny things and ripping out more. I want a fresh start. I lost a piece of luggage on the way to SOAR that contained my nearly finished Pie Are Square shawl in alpaca along with many other treasures. It detached me, somehow, from all the other projects. I loved that shawl. I invested hours into it. It was the perfect color/yarn and now, sadly, no longer sold. My favorite needles, too, all gone.

I know a year from now that lace will fly off my needles without thought and I will be back into the groove of knitting. Spinning will come first. But it seems like I lost a piece of myself when I lost the skills. Like forgetting how to talk English or how to walk. Some fundamental loss that was a surprise and rather deeply disturbing.

And I did gain something else during the time I was losing myself. I learn to bead more seriously. I applied myself. I went through hundreds of books. I learned project after project, technique after technique. I would practice until comfortable. I took them all to SOAR as gifts as if to say, ‘Here, this is my healing. This is what I learned. This is for you.’ Yet that, too, was lost in the same bag on the way to SOAR. All my splendid pretty things to give to those who inspire me and I treasure. I had my best efforts in there to payback special favors that meant a great deal to me (Deb M). Yet I went empty handed; felt ungiving. Somehow that seems tied to losing myself too.

So now, I have projects that are ashes in my mouth, diminished fiber skills, an empty feeling of loss. It feels hard to get over this hump with no fiber to make me whole. When knitting helps you heal from loss, where does one turn when knitting IS the loss?


Anonymous said...

Oh Phreadde. I know the loss of your suitcase was/is huge, I can only imagine. But you gave so much at SOAR, so much of yourself, and that, THAT, is truly a gift to be cherished and for which I thank you.

elizabeth (flwrhead)

janel said...

I didn't realize what was in that suitcase you lost. You may still recover it, sometimes lost suitcases take a journey of their own and come home one day, not speaking of all they've seen.

Your chops are not lost, they're just dormant. All it takes is a little spring water to revive them. And sometimes endings are making way for brilliant beginnings. Although it seems somber to be ripping the ashes, think of it as clearing the way for new sprigs of joy that are just under the surface.

I'm sending you my very best comfort and strength vibes, I have confidence your groove is right there waiting to take a new turn.

Anonymous said...

I got to you for an afternoon with Judith, a gift of time. for the love. It's in my heart forever. thank you. Don't worry your hands will remember, their just resting. xoxodenny

Lynn said...

I think sometimes it is those times when one feels lost, confused, off balance, bereft, that are the times when inner strides are made. It feels like you're swimming madly and getting exactly nowhere - but all of a sudden you find yourself on a new and higher plane of accomplishment.

Well, we can hope, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Phreadde-- you have to know that YOU are our gift!! The fact that you even made it to SOAR speaks volumes about your strength. Your hands will remember and I know you will make more beautiful things. . I am sad that you are so sad. The mother in me wants to fix "it" for you and the best I can do is send my love. Take care of you--you have been a good friend to me.xoxoxo Jeannine

Deborah Robson said...

I hope your suitcase resurfaces, with its contents intact, ready to be rediscovered and sent to the destinations *you* had in mind when you made the things.

Meanwhile, what I do in times like this is focus on *rediscovery*: locating again the pleasure of the skills I've forgotten.

About six months ago, I began to spin some flax. It had been a while for flax. I had samples that proved I *used* to be able to spin quite nice flax. I sure couldn't remember how I did it . . . for about a week. Then I not only got it, I came back to the skill with a new understanding of what it was, and with a different perspective on the material I was using, one that was informed by my previous knowledge as well as my new discovery.

It's a small thing, but maybe it helps.

Meanwhile, there are the computer problems I've been dealing with since February 2007 that are threatening my sanity. And teaching me something. I haven't figured out what yet.

Rachel H said...

I can't say it any better than Jeaninne did. You are, just because of who you are, one of the best parts of SOAR for me. I become inspired to try things just from being around you. It may take time for your body to give back to you what you so beautifully give to all of us, but it'll happen. And we'll celebrate with you when it does.

Ann said...

You turn to your friends. Like Janel said, the skills are just dormant. A little rusty. They aren't really gone, but just need a little push to resurface.

Diane said...

*hugs* what you gave me at SOAR was more precious than beaded gifties. I learned a new skill, and made a new friend.

Here's hoping you get your knitting mojo back asap.


Amy said...

I heard about your lost luggage, but I didn't know it contained treasures. I was imagining, you know, clothes, not handmade clothes and knitting needles. I'm so sorry.

My dad lost a piece of luggage in Spain this spring and it was finally delivered to his house in Colorado two months later.

As for lost (or let's hope dormant) skills, a little bit of prose from the The Faerie Qveene by Edmund Spenser and always resonating in my head in Alan Rickman's lovely voice:

What though the sea with waves continuall
Doe eate the earth, it is no more at all...

Nor is the earth the lesse or loseth aught,
For whatsoever from one place doth fall,
Is with the tide unto another brought...

For there is nothing lost, but may be found, if sought...

Paper Tiger said...

I'm with Jeannine... and moreover I remember you saying almost the same thing to me about a year ago. You make great stuff, but you're the best part.

Those things were dear to you, but what they represented (love, skill, time, all those good things) are still there.

I'm not going to tell you to feel better because it seems to me that there's something rich and delicious in bittersweetness. But it will fade.