Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Respite knitting

My adopted home state of Wisconsin has been rocked by political unrest I would have thought inconceivable a few short weeks ago.  The Japanese earthquake was bad, the tsunami worse, and the nuclear ramifications have me glued to the computer, with three or four news windows open simultaneously. The unrest all over the Middle East brings to mind high school history texts and the year 1848--"the year of revolution" in Europe.

What can I do, as a small person in this sudden upheaval, this messy world?  I read carefully, try to send donations where they will do the most good, maybe volunteer for whatever might make a small difference.

Yet I think the most important thing for me personally is to try to shield my children from this news--one is taking an important math final at University as I write this, one is basking in recent acceptance to the college of her choice, the little one is aiming to aim higher at his next science Olympiad event.

These kids will have the weight of this world on their own shoulders soon enough, soon enough. No need to burden them with all this now--boiling nuke rod pools, the possibility that household income will be substantially cut among their friends and neighbors, the effects on their friends' college choices.

Life is uncertain. On your way to the supermarket in Cairo, the revolution erupts. You wake up on a workday in Tokyo and the ground slips out from under you. The bus going downtown in your quiet Midwestern hometown is rerouted because 75,000 people--nurses, firefighters, plumbers, professors, teachers, DMV clerks--are out demonstrating, and the next day, 100,000 are out in the wind and winter weather. Modeling calmness is hard. I feel like a fake.

Thank goodness for a project in hand, for mohair and beads and lace and yarn.  For community boards and e-mails and questions about the best way to cast off. Thank goodness for knitting.



Anonymous Theresa P. said...

Well said. So much uncertainty and upheaval. It makes us truly grateful for our normal everyday routines. I am nervously knitting right along with you, trying to keep some relative calm in my own family's lives.

March 15, 2011 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Taloferia said...

You have echoed much of what has been running through my mind these past few weeks...thank you.

March 15, 2011 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger brandilion said...

You don't think talking about what it all means and why people are doing what they are is better for your children? How will they learn to form educated opinions in the future? I personally believe that there is always something you can take from it that they can relate to no matter their age.

I love your blog. The jogless knitting series was great.

March 15, 2011 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Diana Troldahl said...

I knit almost every day, but this week I cling to it as a palliative.
I lived in Japan for a few years in the '80s and it is one of my heart-homes. I also lost a friend to swift-acting cancer. She was diagnosed in February, and died Thursday. Knitting is essential.

March 15, 2011 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Hi Brandilion: I find I have expressed myself badly. My older kids are politically active, they have amassed over 7000 "attendees" at a local upcoming election on facebook, they canvass door-to-door for political candidates, they man phone banks. What I meant was that I try and not worry in front of them--to be serene and calm, to take an interest in politics and current events, but not let it upset our household functioning.

Best, TK

March 15, 2011 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger O'chica said...

Thank you for your post. My home in Kyoto is unaffected by the quakes and nuclear incidents (so far), and my 6-yr daughter is getting tired of "all news all the time and no fun programs on TV" situation. My friends and relatives who lives closer to quake-hit area are OK but under blackouts and gas&food shortages. I'm talking with her what's going on, what Mom and Dad think can do to make difference, before turning on HD&DVD player. She understands. Even I try to stay as calm as I can, my face and tone tells her a lot. I hope she learns it's very important not to get upset too easily. That attitude will help her if - I don't want to use the word "when" - she experiences a difficult situation like what's happening right now.

March 15, 2011 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

I'm glad to see your response to Brandilion. I'm not that much older than your children, and I've found much personal value in keeping abreast of current events and doing what I can to voice my opinion in the fray through voting, writing letters to the editor, etc.

March 15, 2011 at 8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't have said this better myself.


March 15, 2011 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger GinkgoKnits said...

As tragic as the events in Japan have been, I had to chuckle at O'chica's comment because I remember being a little kid when the Loma Prieta (a 6.9 mag. quake) hit San Francisco. I doubt I'll ever forget the feeling of that earthquake. There was no electricity that night and I was too young to be fascinated by the radio news reports. Instead, I was frustrated to miss my favorite cartoon show on TV. I couldn't understand all the adult anxiety -- I had done my part by diving under a table when the quake hit, why wasn't that enough to keep the lights on?

March 16, 2011 at 3:13 AM  
Blogger twellve said...

as a Wisconsin expat, i worry about the state of affairs there just now.

as a knitter, i'd be keen to know what pattern and yarn are in your photo?

March 16, 2011 at 4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to that!! Perfectly written.

March 16, 2011 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger PenCraft said...

Sometimes I get so worried when I see all the changes happening so quickly: The oil spill not even a year ago, the quake in NZ, the quake in Japan, the unrest in the Middle East, Kadafi (which I probably spelled wrong), the list goes on and on. Is it just me, or are things escalating in the rate at which these horrendous disasters occur? Thanks for the post to help keep me thinking that it's not just me who panics over all these things and to reassure me that it's OK to just keep going on . . .

March 16, 2011 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

The ancient Romans, who were no fools, equated natural phenomena like earthquakes with times of political and social upheaval. The Romans thought these things were portents, or signs. Being of a modern sensibility, I don't think these things are actually signs, but I do think that some ancient part of our brains--some primitive part--is probably still making these correlations, still seeking for signs, whether we are consciously aware of this or not. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear steam clouds, all coupled with unrest and upheaval, with political dysfunction--it's a perfect storm for the part of our minds inclined to be scared by such coincidences. The ancient Roman oracles would have been having a field day with all of this, I think...

March 16, 2011 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger -- Jolie said...

I know I read/heard recently (on Brenda Dayne's podcast, maybe?) a story about someone who was a young boy in London during WWII. He said his mother kept calmly knitting, even when they were hiding while the bombs were falling. He figured if his mother was still knitting away, how bad could things really be? If she'd put down her knitting, well then you'd know the world was coming to an end.

For those of you concerned about effects of Bad Stuff on children, not to worry. I survived Hurricane Agnes at age 6 and Three Mile Island the day before I turned 13. When you survive such things in your youth, you emerge as a confident adult, not easily distressed.

And for those who like playing with starry portents, Uranus entered Aries on Friday.

March 16, 2011 at 3:47 PM  
Anonymous PaulPurl said...

Another wonderful post, TK! This time teaching us how knitting fits into the world at large.

Your post first reccalled to me the words of another beloved knitter from Wisconsin, from whom we've learned so much: "Knit on in all crises."

But beyond that, there will always be this or that awful stuff we can focus on and there will always be these or those triumphs to celebrate. And what a model you've set for Little TK's #1, #2, and #3 to do what we can to ameliorate the first group while allowing the full celebration of the 2nd. No wonder they've actively contributed to their world at large (insead of falling into the easy apathetic rut).

Knit on... (with respect to EZ) in all celebrations! (Hmmm, does this mean the pile of UFO's is diminishing? That a sweatshirt might not be worn to Yarnover?)


P.S. Appropos your comment about the ancient Romans, if you'd care for a former consulting astrologer's perspective (I see Jolie beat me with this...and a Mrs. Minerva image, to boot!), things should start to taper off (from the current rough-and-ragged edge) starting this weekend.

P.P.S. My verification word is "conal." Is the cosmos telling me I should be buying MORE yarn?!

March 16, 2011 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Leigh said...

I'm a long time follower and a new commenter. Knitting can help to keep one's sanity in a seemingly insane world. Sometimes there is nothing more one can do than to keep calm and carry on. Your post says that quite well.

March 16, 2011 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger Meredith Ramirez said...

As Virginia Woolf once wrote, "Knitting is the saving of life." It provides so much comfort and solace, especially in hard times.

March 17, 2011 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger A. Warped, knitter said...

Your knitting is lovely. Mohair and beads would take one's mind off anything but the knitting.
Good luck to your oldest and youngest and congratulations to your middle child.

March 19, 2011 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I agree, well said. There is a constant feeling of helplessness, and responsibility to model the best for our children. I love your lace with beads, very pretty.

March 20, 2011 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Chandramouli S said...

Whoa! I bumped into a blog full of information and reading your old posts I realize how much I need to learn in knitting. I sure would follow you.

March 21, 2011 at 6:53 AM  
OpenID merrilymarylee said...

The cataclysmic events in Japan are unbelievable. I do not remember the bombing there, but after watching the damage the tsunami has wreaked, it certainly makes me see nuclear disarmament as a worthy goal.

During our years in Wisconsin my family had the good fortune to encounter some extraordinary teachers, both in the classroom and in neighborhood friendships. I have been fascinated with the events there... and the support they have received.

I have the feeling that the roller coaster ride in the Middle East has more laps remaining.

Your kids. . . good job, Mom!

March 21, 2011 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Heidi said...

I don't think you are a fake. Even the people in Japan, Libya, Wisc still get up every day, eat what they can, raise their families as best they can. You are modeling that life goes on, worry doesn't solve problems, and we help others as we are able.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

March 21, 2011 at 2:29 PM  
Anonymous toni in florida said...

what Heidi said.

March 27, 2011 at 1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

keep calm and knit on! I've heard that somewhere before:)

March 28, 2011 at 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Mary Anne said...

Surely at least your oldest 'child'- not a child, taking maths finals at uni! - must be aware that there is a world outwith Wisconsin? Outwith the USA? Must know that the USA is involved in many things, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Libya... you cannot hide these things from anyone old enough to watch TV or use the internet. Always better to know what is going on, and to discuss the good and bad of it.
Agree totally about the soothingness of knitting, however! And your blog is most brilliantly helpful.

March 30, 2011 at 5:36 AM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Hi MaryAnne--I see I have once again expressed myself badly. Surely my children, all of them, know about the big wide world outside our home. We read three newspapers a day here. The eldest is planning to go to Indonesia this summer as an intern in a NGO program. They have all participated in charity drives, in collecting coats for kids who would otherwise be cold in snowy Wisconsin, and so on.

What they do not know is the inner nature of worry--and why should they? This is what I do not wish to burden them with.

They believe in fair play, that hard work will always get a good result, that there is justice and truth and that everything works out alright in the end.

Who would want to disillusion them? Not me. So, I keep knitting and keep this knowledge to myself. That was my point--to keep them in ignorance of evil, of unfairness, of injustice in its most fundamental forms. Not to keep them in ignorance of the world.

It's a hard line to draw, I grant you, and as they grow, they will surely find out for themselves, but I will not have made them cynical, disillusioned and sad in their youth.

March 30, 2011 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

I just read yesterday about a pattern called "Knit1 Breathe 1", created by moms of deployed soldiers, I think. Yes, knitting does provide respite in world where we truly need one.

April 21, 2011 at 7:43 AM  

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