give me stitches

I have the luxury of being able to write this from the sweatpants-clad comfort of fall break. For two days, students are (theoretically) able to study and prepare for the mid-term onslaught, and professors are (theoretically) able to grade and prepare for the same. I’ve been doing my part, trundling pretty happily through English literature exams and Beowulf papers and composition papers predicated on students arguing for which single track to include on a Golden Record single. (The idea for that paper came after reading Elena Passarello’s essay “Space Oddity,” in Let Me Clear My Throat.) It’s good reading, especially when I get to learn about new music, and extra-especially in these occasions:

In the in-between, I’ve slept more than I usually do, and I’ve watched as much baseball as I can, and I’ve knit. I’m reaching the point on a project I’ve been working on for more than a year where it is actually becoming itself. For all of my various organizational obsessions, I’m a poorly organized knitter. I don’t plan yarn purchases for specific projects. I have a Ravelry queue of more than a hundred patterns, and I can safely say I’m not really intending to knit most of them. So when I began the Virelai Ancien wrap, it was mostly an experiment in ridiculousness, and I more or less accepted that it was going to pattern on in shifting shades of blue and green forever. But I’ve finally reached the end of the colors I had put aside for it, and I’m very nearly ready to begin the border. I’m still trying to decide on what I’ll do around the edge—surely black—but it’s reaching that point where the edging is becoming a reality. It’s something I’ll need to do soon. And like the process of finishing a novel draft, once the end came into sight, I felt this barreling feeling. I couldn’t stop.

an entrelac blanket in various shades of blue and green
Entrelac. All of the entrelac.

Which meant that I’ve probably spent something close to thirty hours knitting since I came home on Friday, which is roughly 1000% more knitting than I usually do in a given three-day span. Which has precipitated me needing to dig out the wrist braces I bought back in the dissertation days.

hand in a wrist brace atop a book
Andrea Barrett’s story collection, Archangel, is pretty great, though.

I’m wearing them now, and I wore them as I graded this morning, fully anticipating that I will spend all of the night’s MLB playoff action knitting. I will do that even though I know it’s going to hurt—

(Read this by Kyle Beachy wherein he talks about pain and acknowledgement far more gracefully and pointedly than I do here.)

—and tomorrow, when I have another morning of typing and grading ahead of me. At night, I will put my hand under my pillow because the weight of my head holds my wrist flat, and the eventual warmth will feel good. And I will probably knit more tomorrow because I’m close to the end and I’m excited, and the project isn’t of such a complex nature that I’d screw it up by continuing to work on it.

The barreling feeling gets me in trouble at the end of writing projects. I finished a draft of a short story today, and I wasn’t even out of the shower before I figured out that I’d rushed the ending. I made myself spend longer on breakfast, making a Fancy Coffee in my own kitchen (because leftover salted caramel and some frothed milk never hurt anyone) and eating my toast before I went back to the computer. I fixed it then, and there was still that heady little buzz of finished finished! when I closed the file and got on with today’s grading.

The story is short by my usual standards, just over 3,000 words, and I’m doing my best to wait at least a day before looking at it again. Wisdom says I should wait longer. If a story is a small wound—and for me, they usually are, painful in so many ways—I should let the whole thing heal, wait for the work’s edges to become whole before I look again. Then I’ll see what’s gone right and what might need to be opened again, where the stitches went awry.

4 thoughts on “give me stitches

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