Knit Me Baby One More Time

Shameless word-play with the title, no?

Moving on (before I’m lynched)

Once upon a time I asked for a knitting set. I can’t remember where I got the inspiration from but it most certainly wasn’t a member of my family because none of them could knit. Plane doors, yes. Knit, no. There was nobody to teach me so needles (intentional typo) to say the set was relegated to the back of my wardrobe and eventually sent onto the local jumble sale..

Fast forward a couple of years to primary school to where knitting was part of the curriculum and our task was to knit a hat or mittens in crimson or blue wool. I chose mittens and crimson wool, which coincidentally matched my face. The teacher gave us our patterns and told us to go up to the front of the class to be shown what to do..

My anxiety went stratospheric.

I tried to ‘wing it’ by trying to copy the girl next to me but I wasn’t successful and by the end of the lesson I had something on my needle that looked like it had been dragged out of a skip. What’s more, ‘Miss’ interpreted my anxiety as ‘laziness’ and punished me accordingly.

I understand now that it’s virtually impossible to learn a new skill when overwhelmed with anxiety, but in those days nobody knew that I was autistic, least of all me.

Ten years later my mother-in-law encouraged me to try knitting again. This lady had patience in abundance and we spent many hours knitting and nattering. Well, she talked and I mostly listened, but it’s thanks to her that I was able to fall in love with the craft and overwrite those awful memories of school.

These days I can knit jumpers, scarves and all sorts but I confess to being naturally drawn to ‘easy knit’ patterns because I can switch my brain off and just knit. The problem with this is that it leaves the door open for Captain Crazy and his Psycho Platoon to march into my mind and cause trouble..

Knit One. What’s that pain in my chest? Purl One. What if I have a heart attack? Knit One. What if the door is locked and the paramedics can’t get in? Checks tension. What if I can’t reach my phone? Purl One. Is that aspirin is in date? Knit One. What if a madman bursts in through the window and stabs me to death with my own knitting needles?

This is how my brain works.

I’ve tried to challenge myself because I’ve discovered that I can’t focus on imaginary psychos and do a complex pattern and, believe me, it’s not easy when you have Dyscalculia. Also, any health benefits from knitting are surely lost by calling my hat (or whatever) ‘bastaaaaaard’ as it goes flying off the needles and into the bin. But while I may momentarily descend into madness, I refuse to let it get the better of me because what I lack in mathematical ability I make up for in determination.

Or is it stubbornness?

So it’s fished out of the bin and on I go!

I’m also an absolute sucker for soft yarn. This can be problematic when you’re autistic with a penchant for soft stimmy things, like when I recently had to remove myself from the Sirdar Snuggly range in my local craft store because the owner suddenly appeared in my peripheral vision – most likely having been alerted to my yarn-stroking presence via his security camera.

(I spend lots of money in your establishment per annum, my good man, so I’ll thank you not stare at me as if I have several balls of Sirdar Snuggly concealed about my person!)

I especially love those yarns that change colour. It’s basically witchcraft!! But most of all is the sense of achievement in having created something, not only practical but pleasurable to the eye. It makes up for never having finished those wretched mittens or everything else that I’ve been unable to do or complete because of my anxiety.

Speaking of colour, I plan to knit a ‘mood’ scarf. This is based on the ‘knit the sky’ idea and I think it will be useful to chart my emotional state in a creative way. I’d do the knit the sky one but it’s always raining so it would only require fifty shades of grey and the odd stripe of blue.

Knitting has given me something useful to do on those fibro-days where my legs don’t work properly. It won’t cure me of my anxiety because it’s hardwired into me, along with autism. But I can see how it could cure anxiety in the non-autistic brain so maybe it’s worth digging out those long forgotten needles that have been gathering dust in the back of your wardrobe?

As for the little knitting set that ended up at the jumble sale..

Well, I hope it found it’s way into the home (and hands) of a child who knitted something beautiful with it and that it was the start of a lifetime of creating beautiful things.

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.”
― Elizabeth Zimmerman

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