Feb 252013

Yarn mixedLast night I had another one of those life-changing moments. . . and this one was a doozy! I have been blessed with a long life full of adversity. That’s not always bad. It’s taught me a LOT and how to change up mid-stream. I’ve had to reinvent myself many times in these decades, but last night threw me for a real loop.

You need a little background here to explain. When I was young, my Grandpop used to babysit me while my mother worked. Grandpop was the most important man in my world. In some ways, he still is. . . and he’s been gone since 1979. He’s the one who taught me to roller skate, ride a bike, draw, make things and do everything that makes childhood wonderful. We used to go to the park every chance we got. I grew up in a city and the park was peaceful. We talked, we drew, we laughed, he taught me about the different birds and squirrels. Total bliss for a little kid.

One rainy day we couldn’t go to the park and there wasn’t really much to do at his house. I thought we’d just watch TV or color. He disappeared for a moment and then came back with some things in his hands. He said, “Come here. I want to show you something.” He handed me four pencils and a ball of string and then proceeded to teach me how to knit. He taught me to knit in a seamless circle because that’s all he knew.

Grandpop was from a huge family with lots of brothers and only one sister. His mother knit all their socks. She pressed the boys into service, even as older teens. They had to knit so many rounds on the socks before they could go out at night. Grandpop was always thought of as the “dumb” one in the family, but he was smart about this. He figured the better he learned it, the faster he could do it and the faster he could get out of the house!

So on that rainy afternoon long ago when I was five, he taught me a new skill and created a monster, all in the course of about an hour. From that point on, I knit everything there was to knit. If I couldn’t figure out how to do it, I went to the library and took out books. Two years later, I found a book at Hoy’s Five and Dime in Sea Isle City, NJ on something called crochet, bought the book and a hook and taught myself how to crochet. I never liked it as much as knitting, but I did it from time to time and when the situation called for it.

Fast forward to last night in another world where that little girl is now an old lady with lupus, fibro and arthritis, a lot of it settling in her hands.  About five years ago, a doctor told me to quit knitting due to hand strain. Yeah, right. After all those years of knitting English or right-hand throw, I taught myself how to knit Continental or left-hand throw (easier on your hands). Now I can knit seamlessly with either hand. Well, I could. . .  

I hadn’t knit in a while. My hands had been really painful, but it never dawned on me that it would affect my knitting. I picked up some needles and yarn and took off on a new pattern. I stopped after about two inches. I wanted to cut my hands off. The pain was incredible. I stared down at what I had done. It looked all right, but I couldn’t do one stitch more without screaming. I sat there and cried as I tore the project out.

I have changed things many times, as I said at the beginning. I have changed ways of doing many things, I have changed jobs, I have changed my core beliefs about things. But somehow, knitting never changed. It sustained me through a lot of hard times. It wasn’t something I did. It was who I was. Now that “me” was no longer.

I told myself it was temporary, that it would pass. I know better. The pain has been getting worse and worse over time. I simply refused to acknowledge it. Last night, that pain drew a line in the sand and said “NOTICE ME!” in letters too big for me to ignore.

Once I stopped crying and got my head on straight, I started to think. This was NOT going to get the best of me. . . but it was coming damn close. . . too damn close. What to do? I tried casting on again and noticed that the searing pain was in my left hand, not my right. That was good as I’m right-handed. The word “crochet” sailed across my mind. One hand. One hook. All that yarn could still be put to good use. “But I don’t like to crochet all that much,” said Old Busted Hotness’s brain. “Too damn bad,” answered Old Busted Hotness’s common sense.

So I located my hooks, got some yarn, found a pattern and tucked it all away in a bag for today. When I take a break, I’m going to crochet. As a kid, I taught myself to knit anything. Now as an old lady, I’ll teach myself how to crochet anything. I can do it. I’m just stubborn. But I’m not giving up fiber. I’m betting on the fact that it’s the fiber that’s who I am, not the motions of knitting. Making things. . . watching something come alive in my hands. That’s available in crochet, too.

So lookout below, folks! Old Busted Hotness is on to something new. It’s Changeup No. 3,457,895 or thereabouts. The number matters not. What matters is that I can still do it. Admittedly, this one’s gonna be harder. It will be worth it. My lips to God’s ears. 🙂