What does knitting have to do with skating?
Most days, the only
association between knitting, or knitted things, and skating should be
the cold weather. I have a beautiful knit-in-the-round sweater with a
fair-isle pattern in the yoke, commissioned for me by Rob when we were
going out in grade twelve, that I still wear every winter with a navy
blue turtleneck and jeans when I go skating or tobogganing with my kids,
and it rocks. It's warm but not too warm, neutral gray with navy,
white and true red, it still fits me well, and and to me it has come to
epitomize outdoor winter fun.
Skating was one of the issues that the wasband and I had a major
disagreement about, which became more major as our marriage came closer
to ending. While I agree that sometimes kids need to be pushed to do
things they're not inclined to do, I don't subscribe to the viewpoint
that they should be forced, especially by the cruelty of words or
actions, to participate in activities they show no inclination towards. He's good at a bunch of things, but teaching and inspiring little
people isn't one of them. Over the years, I watched him butt heads many
times with my step-daughter over learning to ride a bike or skate or
rollerblade, and the result was not fun, never a good learning
experience and certainly not a bonding one, for either one of them. As a
bystander, it was a never ending nightmare, wanting theoretically to
side with my husband...yes,(step-daughter), you really should give this a
go, because once you learn, it will be one of those life skills you
will enjoy and look forward to practicing....and yet being fundamentally
unable to do so... Jesus, R, how can you talk to a seven/eight/nine
year old like that? As a parent, I wear my sarcastic hat more often
than I care to admit, but he went beyond sarcastic into mean, and I
couldn't countenance that, not with my step-daughter and not with the
kids I gave birth to either.
We used to go to a family skate every Sunday afternoon every weekend
that R wasn't working. We had had a series of arguments on
successive Sundays about skating.
The kids were progressively less enthusiastic about going, and when we
went, I ended up trying to hold three clingy little hands, seething
about feeling marginalized, like my spouse saw me as a babysitter that
allowed him to move outside of our family zone by himself, angry that my
kids were justified at feeling scared of their dad, who yelled at them
in public every time they made a mistake and yelled at me for not supporting his position, while he skated alone and
fast and free and
angry that no-one was "trying". I can't count the number of times those
excursions ended in tears for at least one of the kids, and led to the
"I don't want to go skating" refrain every Sunday just after breakfast.
As the winter wore on, the kids would beg me to say I didn't want to go
skating, and to be honest, I DID stop wanting to go.
One Sunday, we had an epic
argument where he ended up screaming at me, neck corded, eyes popping
and forehead veins prominent....goddammit, my kids are going to learn
how to skate, and I don't care if they hate me by the time it's
over....I stepped back, dry eyed, and said, R, go right ahead with
YOUR agenda, but I WILL NOT be a party to you scaring them with your
anger and frustration. I freely admit that I dragged my feet that day and the weekends after that, started to take a little too long making sure the kids were
ready to go, and one day he left without me. It was a new low in our
relationship, because to me, he was saying to our kids, your mother
isn't important enough for me to wait for her, even to give her notice
that I'm ready to go, but even at the time I can't really say that it
I took my gear off, stumbled around my house in tears for a few
minutes, and after I got a grip, got the pork roast I had planned to
make for dinner ready to put in the oven, poured myself a glass of wine
and sat down to assemble a sweater I'd been knitting on and off for the
past several months.
I had become friends on ebay with an amazing fibre artist named dj
runnels, under the ebay store name "Life's An Expedition", had bought
some of her yarn blends, made a few items with her totally unique and
fibrelicious blends, and even inspired an article she wrote about
blending yarns when garment knitting. Pertinent to this story, I had
bought several balls of yarn she called "Petit Fours", pale green and
purple and pink, alpaca and cotton and lambswool, baby soft and squishy
and decadent, and over time had accumulated enough yarn to make a
turtleneck I'd found on Knitty . That day, I sewed the front and back
of the sweater together, and then grafted the raglan sleeves onto the
body. Trying it on before picking up stitches to knit the neck, looking
at myself in the mirror, I couldn't decide whether to scream or cry.
One sleeve was about two inches too long, at the wrong end...the
shoulder end, not the wrist end.
I couldn't bring myself to frog that damn sleeve. The yarn, as
wonderfully soft as it was, was textured by virtue of six separate
colours and fibres stranded together, and while the pattern itself was
fairly simple, the yarn was not easy to work with, having six separate strands to a stitch. As the Yarn Harlot
says, "Experienced knitters don't make fewer mistakes than new knitters. They make bigger ones faster."
At the height of my distress, my family came home from
skating. I didn't feel able to confront R with my anger at being left
behind on a skating excursion I hadn't been enthusiastic about going on
anyway, and had to bluster my way through my kids' questions about why
Daddy had left me behind and reassuring them that life was going to go on. Privately, I folded the sweater up, along
with my anger and frustration and my feelings of futility and
hopelessness, and I haven't touched it since.
After we separated and I moved in with my dad, my knitting gear
spent close to a year in storage, as did most of my clothes, books, my
yoga and other exercise DVDs, cds and movies, skates and just about
everything I associated with relaxation and enjoyment. The storage unit
was over an hour away from my dad's place and not accessible by
transit, way off the beaten track on a service road. If you had asked
me why I'd packed the way I did, I would have told you I expected to
find work and get my own place within weeks. I spent months of days trying to
find a job, and evenings despairing I ever would, with my laptop and a
bottomless bottle of red, drunk facebooking.
It took spending a weekend in Toronto
in February 2010 and getting introduced to Knitomatic (one wonderful LYS of
many in the city that's now my home) to bring a little of my knitting mojo back.
I bought two skeins of Malabrigo and a pair of straight Harmonies, and
at the store owner's suggestion, got a cool hat pattern and knitted
during the winter Olympics, trying to get my project done before the
closing ceremonies finished.
Although I finally got my gear out of storage and got reunited with all the things I hadn't seen in almost a year, including my knitting, I still haven't frogged that sleeve,
and I cried when I photographed the sweater, such as it is, for my
Ravelry project page. Since starting to knit again, I tend to stick to
accessories, rarely needing more than two skeins to complete a project.
But the sweater has moved from a box in my basement to being wrapped in
plastic bag with some of my stash and my knitting books in a cabinet in
my living room. I took my kids skating last winter at an outdoor
rink. I wore my favourite outdoor sweater, we kept it short and low
key, and they seemed to enjoy it...there were no tears and definitely no
yelling. I'm getting closer to being able to bring myself to detaching
the sleeve, which is a step closer to frogging it.
Today was our first really cold day in Toronto. It will be time to take my kids skating again soon. I hope one day they'll enjoy it.