Friday, May 18, 2012

Auntie Shouldbee

Today I knit for a few minutes, just enough to catch my breath. There in front of me sat a knitted fabric I created (with the help of a pattern). Not a difficult project. In fact a pushbutton shawl pattern called “Colonnade” that I discovered on Truth be told I do need clothes for next fall and while we just got through an warm winter I don't want to hedge my bets as far as what next winter promises.

Every time I pick up the needles it's the same old story. Out pops “Auntie Shouldbee.” As in “you should be doing dishes, cleaning, doing laundry, paying bills, preparing tomorrow's schedule, etc., etc." “Shouldbee” knows the minute I'm doing what this shadow considers self- indulgent. If “Auntie Shouldbee” had human form she would resemble that old-fashioned, stern school marm with a ruler in her hand ready to fire. She pokes at my brain while nagging me over things left undone, as if I need reminding. Auntie Shouldbee and I begin to argue as I begin to knit. She's a relentless little one as she goes down the list of tasks incomplete and those to come.

Breathe, I remind myself, just breathe. You're entitled to a little downtime. Mom and Dad are resting. My daily rest has averaged about three-five hours a night over the past twelve days because Dad hit a rough patch. I struggle to concentrate on the pattern. Knit2 together. Knit2 together. Yarnover. Yarnover. Knit. Knit. Knit. Knit. Auntie Shouldbee continues to poke me. I lose my rhythm and count back to ensure I remembered the second yarn over. My mind turns into mush, but I'm gaining ground.

Putting the needles down, I have to ask myself, “Why am I knitting when there's so much to do?” Is it form of blantant escapism? Does it calm my nerves? Does it help me think? Focus? What? The answer isn't definitive. There is no answer to this question today. Not right now. Why don't I do something else others would label “more worthwhile”?

My skillset does not label me as an “uber-knitter,” although I can out-frog the best of 'em. (Frogging involves ripping back stitches for the non-knitting readers.) In all honesty and immaturity, I blame Auntie Shouldbee. She knows better than to interrupt. Auntie Shouldbee continues to rant like an angry gorilla in the room. Jumping up and down to get my attention. Not a pretty sight, especially when her stockings fall down around her ankles.

This is not to say my projects are completely abandoned or go unfinished due to boredom or a poor skillset, they aren't (OK, sometimes an endless sea of garter stitch can be off-putting). Projects have been given "time outs" in order to forgive the careless pattern writer or to slap myself a few times for failing to comprehend what the designer has written. Certainly my family has benefited from my efforts in the form of socks, handwarmers, scarfs, mittens, sweaters. The family has seen them all. Auntie Shouldbee doesn't buy the benefits.

As I continue down the pattern, a gentle thought emerges that partially answers the question. No matter what happens to be going on, the act of knitting serves me unconditionally. An on-call fibre-therapist, if you will. Knitting calms be down. Knitting makes me happy and gives me a pat on the back for a job well done. Knitting soothes my soul and reflects what I put into it. If I make an error, it's an error, but it can be fixed with forgiveness. The pattern, whether charted or written, slows my mind down and takes me away from the stresses and strains of my life as caregiver. Knitting reshapes itself to be what I need it to be at the present moment.

As for Auntie Shouldbee, she's really not so bad. We need to compromise. She does remind me of things I need to do. I just wish she wasn't so blessed cranky.


  1. I think old Auntie should hush a little, as it sounds as if your knitting is just what you need. Enjoy your knitting :)

  2. I think I prefer my Aunty Shouldbee - she always tells me no matter what I am doing, that I shouldbee knitting!

  3. I think I must have a relative of hers.... Aunt Whyarentyou.

  4. I just found your blog-from Jon Katz. I am enjoying reading your posts. I have just started blogging myself. I am dealing with similar issues with my mom but from a far. Thank you for taking care of your folks. They can never understand how much you do!

    check out my stuff if you want at--


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