Sunday, February 18, 2007

Why I Knit, Part 2: Embracing the Online Knitting Community with One Good Arm

I’ll try to make a long story short, but it’s sort of a long story.

About three years ago, not long after I had come back to knitting, I finally decided to do something about the left arm pain that had followed me in various forms and with increasing severity since a minor injury to my wrist in late 1997 (it involved carrying sheets of plywood, because, I am a dumbass). A couple of months after the seemingly minor injury, I started a semester-long ceramics course and wanted to work on largerwheel-thrown bowls – think six pounds of clay on the wheel. By the end of the class I couldn’t even pick up a cup of coffee with my left hand. Fast forward through three more years as construction manager for a volunteer-based housing non-profit™ carrying generators, compressors, lumber, 50 pounds of nails in buckets, etc. I finally quit in 2001.

It still hurt and started hurting in new ways when I played golf with DH, or went to yoga class, or swam, or just picked something up the wrong way. So, I had to seek help. Thus followed PT, the hand surgeon, OT, Radial Tunnel Release surgery, OT, de Quervain’s Release surgery plus removal of what turned out to be fascia from Duypuytren’s Contracture (surgery #2 I blame on the splint), OT, Lateral Epicondylitis Debridement and removal of more Dupuytrens gunk, OT, and currently (if I ever get home from Hagerstown to continue) PT for all the arm/shoulder/posture/soft tissue/nerve entrapment issues you can get when your arm hurts for ummm, ten years. And, please stay with me, this is going somewhere that has to do with KNITTING.

An effort was made to “rest” my arm as conservative treatment prior to the surgeon agreeing to surgery. Anyone who knows me is laughing at the idea that I would “rest” anything. But, I was forbidden to knit. By my OT, who is a wonderful woman, for whom I eventually knit this as thanks. Because I could.

Oriel Stole by Anne Carroll Gilmour from Black Sheep Wool Co. (no website) in Classic Elite Miracle alpaca/tencel, yum.

While I was “resting” I discovered knitting blogs. There was an article in the Washington Post that mentioned WendyKnits, and she links to blogs, and they link to more blogs, and there’s Bloglines, and Googling for patterns, and Yahoo Groups, Mystery Projects, and podcasts. And so we end up here. With my knitting blog.

I was not able to knit but I started to read about others’ knitting. I learned by watching when I could not do. I was inspired to try techniques just because I’d seen them done and discussed that I never would have had an interest in trying if I just saw them in print. And it has opened my mind to how I now look at new knitting. Seeing finished objects modeled by knitters is far different from the flat posed pictures on most patterns. Things tend to look a lot better. Hearing details and failures and successes about the process leading to the products made all sorts of things seem more possible.

My newfound knitting courage has taken me to lace, and socks, and stranded knitting, and warshcloths, and Stitches East, and to work at the LYS, and to lots of hand-dyed sock yarn that inspires me to work on some colorways of my own this Spring. On a lark, I have entered shawls in the Virginia State Fair and won.

But, even though it is “just” the internet, I feel connected to something real. Something that has inspired, informed, motivated, and entertained me. Something that is an amazing renewable resource, but not one to be used unquestioningly (opinions are not facts, and your way may not be the only way). Something that has allowed me to help others find a clear path through sticky spots on their mystery shawls. Something that has allowed me to find knitters and yarn on my travels. Something that has prompted me to start asking myself Why I Knit in hopes that the answer might inspire someone else who finds this blog on their own journey.