Monday, January 4, 2010

when yarn isn't just yarn

There is some comfort found in extrapolating the significance of the mundane. I don't know what it is about me that makes me feel like I have to assign meaning to everything. Dates, numbers, events, moments...I can recall being in elementary school, looking out the window at my Dad & brother playing in the yard and thinking, “this is a moment I would like to remember”. There was nothing special about that particular afternoon, either. Fortunately, this quirk of sorts has lent itself to the realization of good moments lately--almost like I take mental snapshots. Riding bikes in the afternoon, on the last day of summer before school started last August...camping in Joshua Tree, squished up next to Nina and Rick by the campfire...last month, out by the new science building on campus, caught up in the overwhelming beauty of an autumn afternoon...driving down the road to the grocery store and being so tickled by life that I couldn't help but laugh out loud. These recent moments I hold dear.

Whatever it is that constructs all this significance in my wrought little mind was hard at work tonight, immensely satisfied in analyzing how detangling a colossal tangle in my knitting yarn might represent something bigger. For the better part of nearly three hours, I calmly picked through yards and yards of the green fiber, all the while (and with initial encouragement from Louise and Tali) considering the greater implications of such a task. This tactile therapy of sorts couldn't have come at a better time.

Somehow, I had managed to work the string into a massive tangle. Instead of preemptively organizing the thread, I had let it become a confusing mess. Eventually, I had to use my camp knife (it was handier than my scissors!) to make a single cut, and still spent a good hour after that working that knot out. Now, without drawing too many stilted connections, I think I've let parts of my life look like that green disaster of yarn these last few months. I hope for the best and assume things will work themselves out and before I know it I've got a gigantic tangle and I keep pulling hoping I won't get to the point where it's stuck and won't pull anymore. And then I get frustrated! How did I let things get so messy? What is this pile in my hands that I can't use for anything constructive?

As I sprawled across my bedroom floor pulling loop after loop, working deeper and deeper, I found some peace. There were moments of frustration and of impatience, sure, but the resolution was worth it. The process of untangling helped to sort out more than just the yarn. There was some balance achieved in the middle of all of that. That ridiculous pile of threads didn't solve all my problems by any means, but it helped to remind me that some of these things take time. Pulling at one loop may disturb another, and may get me closer to resolution or I may be forced to backtrack and try something else. I was almost sad to finish working the knot as it meant I was no longer in the process of resolution. Upon detangling it, I didn't have a project, a measure of progress anymore.

To someone else, these connections may be silly or disinteresting, but to me, they're significant. I prefer it that way. And while I don't necessarily look forward to the next time I have to spend hours removing a knot from my knitting yarn, I'm now infused with just a little more confidence to tackle that task...and maybe a few others in the meantime.


  1. Fortunately climbing rope doesn't knot up as much as yarn does. But if I'm sorting out a tangle I always tell myself "don't pull an end through yet!". Why? Through normal use (including quickly shoving into a pack because you have to GTH) a climbing rope won't get an overhand knot or topological equivalent (if it does get a knot it's probably on a bight). However, if you do pull an end through you are making an overhand knot, and to fully untangle it you will have to pull an end through again! So the lesson for tangled climbing ropes is to be patient, it's probably ok, don't go to extreme measures yet, or something...

    I will agree this is a bit of superstition, but last time someone didn't listen to me they ended up with an overhand knot in the middle of the rope. Like exactly in the middle of the rope, right on the middle mark.