Sunday, November 20, 2011

Yarn Therapy

It's no secret that I like to crochet.  Wherever I go, I generally have my current project with me, and I pick it up and work on it every chance I get.  And it took over a year, but I finally finished my first lap blanket tonight. I could've finished it a long time ago, but I held off, though I wasn't quite sure why.

The thing is, this particular project was one that I started shortly before my grandfather developed pneumonia while he was in the hospital last year. I eventually came to call it my "comfort yarn," since crocheting became a sort of escape for me when I was spending so much time down at the hospital with my family, after we were told that the best that could be done for him was to keep him as comfortable as possible, considering the circumstances. (I might've tried reading, but I learned long ago that to open a book in the presence of my relatives is to invite a lot of questions: "What are you reading?" "Who wrote it?" "How is it so far?" etc.) When I started to crochet at the hospital, I noticed that my family was far less likely to distract me while I was doing that, and I could still be part of the conversation if I chose to be. And to this day, when I look at some of the sections of the lap blanket that I completed during that time and shortly after, I can still remember what was going on around me while I was working on them.

When Grandpa died, crocheting became a central part of my grieving process; I don't like to cry anyway (just as well, because I rarely get the chance; practically every time I feel like I need a good cry, it turns out that something else needs my attention, so I don't have the time and I have to release that energy some other way), so whenever I felt particularly awful I'd pick up my yarn and start working again for a few minutes. Whenever I was interrupted at that, I was able to deal with the interruption and get back to my yarn immediately after; there was no need to get back into any particular mood. Whether I was working on that lap blanket or something else (including the inevitable scarf—it seems I can't entirely get away from making those things), my time spent with my yarn became almost therapeutic.

These days, I don't crochet out of grief anymore. I find it's a good way to occupy my hands while my mind goes off and does other things, and it also has the advantage of being something I can do while I'm talking to someone else without being rude. I often find that my mood and my concentration are better after I've been crocheting for awhile. So at least that's one good thing that came from an otherwise awful time.

So when I finished the blanket tonight, in a way I was also moving on from a stage of grief that I don't really need to experience anymore.  When I visited Grandpa's grave last month, I cried for a bit (one of the few times I didn't get interrupted, thank goodness, though I'd have been shocked if I had been as I was the only person at the cemetery at the time) and then sat beside the grave and crocheted for awhile.  After all that time spent with my yarn beside his hospital bed, it seemed right.

It's amazing, and downright wonderful, what can be accomplished simply by pulling loops of yarn through other loops of yarn, really.

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