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May 16, 2005

The Annotated History of Hermits & Knitting As Therapy

This post? The "War & Peace" version of my weekend. Long, ya'll.

So, a theme is developing. Read back from the beginning and you'll see it. Don't ask me how it happened, but somehow I went from eating cheetos off my chest and watching "Message In A Bottle" over and over (Oh! Hi! I am losing coolness points as I write this!) (as if I had coolness, ever) to some crazy girl who leaves her house and meets strangers who talk about YARN!

Not to get all profound and shit, but I do believe knitting has saved me from my inner hermit.

When Mr. X moved out on the first of September, I MOVED WAY IN. Basically, I didn't leave my house. EVER. Aside from going to work and going to the 7-11 for groceries, which is where all normal people shop for groceries, I just channeled Howard Hughes and envisioned the impermeable bubble of my dreams. Jennifer, my beloved and dear friend, invited me to meet her brother one weekend in October. I wanted to -- I really did -- but I was so terrified, so sad, so isolated that I stayed home, watched TV, sat and the floor with a bottle of wine and oh, by the way, drinking alone? Totally one of those symptoms mentioned on the AA checklist. Drinking alone while watching re-runs of "Growing Pains" and talking to your cat about love gone wrong? TOTALLY FUCKING EMBARASSING.

This type of living is what I call my "Fear Life."

In my Fear Life, I would ideally work from home, submitting my projects remotely and never attending meetings or going to an office. I would piddle in my garden and write and talk to my cats and before long groceries would get delivered (not shopped for, even at 7-11), catalogs would replace the mall, friends would come visit but only if they follow The Golden Hermit Rule: Call before you come over, email before you call, and think twice before you email.

In time, in the Fear Life, days become so insulated and alone that even things I love to do -- like travel -- would be too scary and I would eventually miss out on my own life. For some people, the Fear Life takes on a different bent (partying too much, wild sleepless nights on the town) but for me, the Fear Life is total seclusion, an extra 40 pounds, and long conversations with my cat. Hi, crazy much?

But in January I learned to knit. Shannon took me to class with her, and I bought yarn and needles and IT TOOK. I was so obsessed with knitting that I began to venture out into my new neighborhood, finding hidden yarn stores and knitting books. I just wanted to knit and talk about knitting nonstop. I thought the website could be a way to write about knitting without having to bore my co-workers and parents to death about 100% wool! You wash it and it makes felt! And oh, there's this stuff called alpaca... and so on.

And I read lots of personal knitting websites. But I don't have a cute kid or a sweet husband to make knitted sweaters for, and also I may be a wee bit bitter and also, well, spinster divorcée drinks-a-lot, need I say more? So I can only write one way, and this is it, and then... well, it took, too! And other bloggers emailed me and they all seemed like good people, the kind you'd want to KNOW, and one day I actually left my house (to go to Annie Modesitt's class) and even left my valley (for stitch 'n bitch) and of course ya'll have been with my the whole way, livin' out loud. Then, Laura, of the WORLD FAMOUS JenLa invited me to her house for lunch and knitting.

And I went!!

I drove on freeways I never drive to a town I have never been to and met strangers. IT WAS AWESOME. Fear? YES. I was fearful, but I did it nonetheless. Sounds like small potatoes to the normal folks in the world, I guess, but to me, the hermit? BIG STEP FOR HERMITKIND. And I got to meet two cool knitbloggers -- Laura, famous Jen La writer, and Michelle, of Fickleknitter fame. Laura was welcoming and gracious and has a cat just like my Sobakowa!!And Michelle is so smart and kind and talks normal, ya'll, because she's from Virginia!

Laura's kitty looks just like my Sobakowa! La working away on Mariah, with some strawberry margarita for the tough spots.

Her Mariah sweater is almost done; Mose kitty is just like a baby, so damn cute you can't stand it.

A tortie that does tricks; Michelle is cute as pie but is hiding behind her lacy shawl.

Laura and Michelle also helped me figure out The Math on my decreases for the orange hat. And Laura gave me some super-pretty stitch markers she'd made. Michelle was kind enough to email the Knit Math for my hat to me yesterday EVEN THOUGH I opened my big mouth after a single margarita and told a completely stupid joke that was likely horribly offensive and, ya'll know. I just do not shut up. And Laura showed me all kinds of neat internets stuff and all in all it was a really good day, and I thank them so much for having me over.

Then -- oh hell yeah the story continues! -- I met up on Sunday with Shannon and also Carrie and Laina from Stitch 'n Bitch and we went to Unwind to shop for yarn and chitchat and we had lunch and we even knit in public!!!!!!

(I wanted to meet Barbara there as well, but my Internets are out at home and I didn't get her email until this morning. Day late and a dollar short -- story of my life. So, this is a public apology to Barbara, who I shall stalk until I meet her in person!)



Laina is an amazing knitter, and yet she's patient and helped Shannon with her ribbed scarf, and she has even inspired me to try a sweater. (Laina, I came home and picked out a pattern!!) Carrie just got a new kitten named Charlie, or maybe Xander, and she's warm and witty and get this -- she lives in the valley, too!

It's amazing to meet people who share your current obsession (yarn, yarn and more yarn) and also have completely different lives and backgrounds and yet, somehow, you just click. Comfortable, like a perfect pair of pajamas.

Also -- if the swimming pools and movie stars and free parking are not enough, ya'll come to the Valley just for Unwind. It is the best yarn shop! They have comfortable overstuffed chairs and racks of pattern books and they didn't mind at all that us girls camped out in the corner and knitted and browsed pattern books and talked about love and yarn and catbox situations for almost two hours.

Stephanie showing us some gorgeous mohair; Tom always cheerful and look at that yarn I bought! It was like I hit the Debbie Bliss jackpot! On sale!

Then, Laina and Carrie and I went to Bob's Big Boy for lunch and looky there, an orange hat found the Big Boy! (Shannon had to go for her last performance of the play she's STARRING in, so she couldn't come to lunch and we missed her.)

Laina and Carrie knit in public; Bob's Big Boy with orange hat.

Knitting in public was weird at first, but we did it. And it was nothing scary at all. (This is the valley, ya'll. Crazy people live here. We could have been sitting right there in the Bob's Big Boy waiting area re-enacting the final battle of the Civil War and nobody would have given us a sideways glance.)

Last night I went home and called my parents ("on the long distance") and told them all about my weekend and my dad was so happy for me, and then I heard it in his voice. Relief. It surprised me, a little, because I hadn't realized my parents were worried about me. They've seen me change, and hole up in my house for almost six months now, and my cheerful calls to them usually consist of SOME FUNNY THING MY CAT DID. Which scares a parent, ya'll know. They live far away and can't draw me out of my shell, and I could just hear how happy they were for me to meet new people and go out and live life.

Plus, it's way easier to explain to friends that your child in Los Angeles is just going through a tough patch, but has taken up knitting, than to admit she's gone buckwild crazy and is wearing her bra on her head and directing traffic on 6th and Main. They're relieved. I'm just saying, is all.

Posted by laurie at May 16, 2005 11:13 AM