Renewing old friendship brings great comfort
By Paula O’Kray
It’s October, and autumn is in full swing. Along with the change in weather, there’s a change in activity. There’s a change in the types of activity and also the pace of activity. The cooler air makes me want to be more active, and stay outside longer. There’s a melancholy in the air as we say goodbye to warmer temperatures and all that green we’ve gotten used to.
I like it.
I’m usually not one to shift gears easily, but the change in seasons somehow makes it so natural. I find myself doing new things without even really thinking about adding them to my schedule, and just as naturally other things drop out. That strange October allergy I have is right on schedule, and I’m once again shopping for things I’ll need to make my grandson’s Halloween costume.
As I mentioned in a previous column, October brings the last few weeks of the craziness of the politics we’ve been subjected to. I’ve tried my best to keep it all at bay, but it still finds a way to leak through. It’s not just social media anymore, real people are bringing it up in real time. Can I get a sign to wear around my neck letting people know I’m just not interested? I think it’s safe to say everyone’s mind is made up at this point, and all the talk in the world, no matter how intelligent, isn’t going to sway anyone at this point. Let’s just get this over with, shall we?
I’ve always had hermit tendencies. I remember taking a Myers-Briggs test a lifetime ago, and the results were mostly very normal, but the counselor pointed something out. “See this line right here, Paula?” he said. “That’s what we need to take a look at.” Apparently that line told the doctor about my hermit tendencies, and he wanted to do something about it. I didn’t.
When things get difficult, I tend to shut down for a while and regroup. It works very well and I don’t see it as a big deal. In fact, it saves a lot of relationships that might otherwise be damaged because I’m at my wit’s end and about to say something I’m going to regret. Not that that hasn’t ever happened – my mouth is a perfect size nine. But I do try to recognize the build-up and sequester myself before I get to that point. So I find myself sequestering more often lately, and finding comfort at home with familiar things.
This fall however, I found myself turning to a very old friend for comfort. I didn’t even realize what a comfort my old friend was until just recently. I’d been working on a project last winter for quite some time, and just recently returned to finish it. I sat with my old friend each night, working away on my project. I found it very comforting on many levels, and my stress seemed to drop away.
The project was a granny square afghan I had started quite some time ago. I remember picking out the colors while shopping with a friend who told me they were pretty ugly, and that she didn’t care for them. I was surprised she cared that much about it. I really liked the colors together and thought they would make a lovely afghan. I bought the supplies and began making granny squares.
Granny squares are very easy, as they are crochet’s answer to the quilt … using up little pieces of yarn leftover from other projects so they don’t go to waste. Problem being, all those pieces of yarn leave a lot of loose ends to weave in once you start putting the whole thing together, and it can get tedious. Hence the reason this project has gone on for a few years. I’m not a friend of tedious.
Working on an afghan is seasonal. You don’t do it in the summer, when there’s a lot going on and sitting still with a very warm blanket in your lap is not enjoyable. No, the afghan comes out in the fall, when you want to spend your evenings with your creation all cozied up in your lap. It might be a holiday gift for someone, which is another reason to pull out the crochet hook this time of year.
One season I made so many afghans I actually ended up in physical therapy for a while. I had overused my crochet muscle, believe it or not! I found that pretty funny, but it was worth it when my friends and family opened their gifts that year. For me, when I’m working on a gift for someone, the happy thoughts I have of that person get weaved right in and give it a certain kind of magic.
However, this current afghan is not a gift. I’ve decided that I should keep something lovely for myself, and this is the one. The other day a friend of mine on Facebook posted a lovely photo of flowers from her garden. It took me a moment to realize that the colors in the photo were exactly the ones in my afghan! How dare someone tell me they were ugly. Apparently Mother Nature didn’t think so. The thought made me smile.
My mother taught me to crochet a very long time ago. I found it very easy, and it made results quickly … something I still appreciate. I crocheted, my mother crocheted, and my grandmother crocheted. The skill connects me to the past in a wonderful way that still grounds me today. It gives me a sense of control – choosing how fast I go, the type of stitch, the thickness of yarn, the color palette, the varying patterns … and it gives me a great sense of satisfaction.
So, in these last few weeks as I’ve worked on my afghan in the evenings, a strange realization came over me. With all the craziness of the world going on right now, a madness beyond my control, I’ve found joy, stillness, satisfaction, comfort and even nostalgia in a very old friend. Who knew the simple act of crocheting could bring such good things?
Once I had that realization, I laughed to myself. Now it’s an important part of my day, and I actually look forward to the time each evening when I can get to my comfy couch, relax with my old friend and reminisce. Apparently I’ve underestimated the power of crochet in the past, but I won’t anymore. Thanks, Mom.