Social media, catching up, and knitting in quarantine

“It’s been a while since I updated my knitting blog,” I thought sheepishly, firing up a browser with a bit of trepidation… “It’s probably been like six months or more…”

Last post date August 21, 2018.

2018? 2018! Oh jeez, I’m sorry.

I did not mean to disappear when I set up my Knitting Instagram to share projects. It happened to fall at the same time as a whole bunch of personal turmoil (career stuff, illness, moving, starting a program to retrain for a new career etc. etc.) and until recently, I was spending the majority of my free time on a long train commute in and out of Manhattan, which is great for knitting but has not proven optimal for knit-blogging.

Knitting and knit-blogging are really two different animals, and I think there is great value in exploring projects and concepts more comprehensively. When I am searching for a tutorial or more information about a pattern, I pretty much never search Instagram or go through needle-in-a-haystack Ravelry searches; it’s more often 10-year-old blog posts that give the qualities of thought and reflection or specific, detailed information I want. On a personal level, I also feel there is tremendous joy in writing and reading about crafts and the places they hold in our lives. I don’t tend to go very in-depth on Instagram or interact as much as I mean to, so I would like all of that to change.

So what have I been up to?

Since my last post here I’ve:

  • knit 16 pairs of socks
  • designed, knit, and gifted (on time!) a cabled baby sweater for my cousin’s son
  • learned how to use my sewing machine (kind of) to sew a linen caftan that I dye-painted for a costumed art party (will miracles never cease?!)
  • packed up all my stash and in-process projects, save a handful, and put them into my storage locker while I’m living with family and going to school
  • knit three sweaters for myself
  • knit two yoga mat bags, one for each of my parents, which they absolutely love
  • knit my first colorwork mittens and socks
  • participated in the Fiberuary Challenge, posting on Instagram in response to prompts for every day of this past February
  • started knitting my first blanket (more on that below)
  • hand-sewed and embroidered three Mask Strap Ear Guards for my physical therapist father and two of his colleagues
  • started learning brioche

While I mull over the best way to catch up here (I will probably introduce a series of Flashback FO posts), I also want to talk about knitting in quarantine.

Prior to the covid-19 pandemic, I was already using knitting as a form of meditation, self-care, anxiety-release, and way to occupy my hands while I’m chatting, watching television, reading, or commuting. I always have at least one or two projects on the go (hence the large number of socks I’ve knit this year, as they are the most portable projects) and turn to them whenever I have a free moment. A lot of the knitters I follow on Instagram took on larger or more complicated projects for their “Quarantine Cast-Ons,” to make the most of their stay-at-home orders.

As I live with and know quite a number of high-risk individuals – and was just coming off two surgeries myself in late January – I took the infection risk from this pandemic very seriously. Like, I put a mask with an N-95 filter on my Christmas wish list and wore it every day in the city from when my classes resumed in early February onwards. As my brother and father are both essential healthcare workers, we have all been taking enormous precautions to stay safe and limit everyone’s risk of exposure, so I am happy to stay at home, adjust to my classes moving online, and knit through every worry.

One of my other Christmas gifts was the Hue Shift Afghan kit, a gorgeous blanket with a clever pattern that pairs each of ten colors in a rainbow spectrum with every other color in a plaid-like stripey grid gradient made with mitered squares.

I am absolutely enamored with the process and how neatly the squares fold in on themselves. It is also a whole lot of easy garter stitch, which is deeply soothing, meditative, and comforting when I am lacking the intellectual or emotional bandwidth to process anything else. I’ve found myself working on this blanket through countless Zoom lectures, conversations with my biomed tech brother reporting back from endless days setting up ventilators and all the equipment in northern New Jersey hospital systems, governor’s press briefings, fundraising specials, and all the distractions to take our minds off all the rest. (On that note, we just caught up on Killing Eve, and it is great fun).

Beyond all the practical and knitterly reasons why this is a great quarantine project, I am also touched by the idea of the rainbow as a promise of better things to come after hardship. As I knit my rainbow blanket, I keep imagining ways we can come together and make a better society, how we are unified in this moment and can use it to open our eyes to inequities, distorted and broken systems, and our inherently better natures. I am focusing this blanket in love, hope, and idealism, and I hope it will continue to carry that feeling for me whenever I use it after this time.

So, how have you been? What have you all been making?

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