red scare

the last few weeks seem like an avalanche of public holidays and commemorative days. easter, anzac day, mothers day. somewhere in there was’ may day’, but we dont ‘celebrate’ that any more, and meanwhile, the meanings of the other days have become twisted and warped under the pressure of hallmark commercialism. on the weekend, on twitter, i was outed as a communist. it made me laugh, and a little bit happy. i was outed because i remarked to webgoddess that i opposed commercialism (of everything), and i do, but mothers day, more than most of the others (with the hands down exception of christmas), makes me sad. on one hand, there is the politics of the thing, where ‘motherhood’ as a state is celebrated in a very crass pink fluffy way, and celebrated as a thing that all women aspire to. the pinnacle of womanness if you like. that just irritates me, but its typical in this world, with the mixed messages about what women should be. but its the personal part of mothers day that makes me really sad. not because im not a mother (i dont think whether you have children or not is the thing thats being celebrated), but because i dont have a mother to celebrate. oh she’s alive and kicking, in that realm where all the wicked witches of the west live, but she might as well be dead, all the support, love and comradeship i’ve had from her my entire life. so its this assumption, on mothers day, that all mothers are wonderful and we are so blessed to have our mums, that really gets me.

some of my friends are mothers. they are all, without exception, great mums. they are thoughtful, loving, caring and supportive of their children. they create fantastic family environments, wonderful family memories, that will build well adjusted, secure and intelligent adults. they knit stuff for their children, and for their grandchildren. they deserve to be celebrated. i wish they were my mum.

i know no one is perfect, i know no family is perfect, but on sunday afternoon i was alone in the house and i had a sudden urge for contact. i wrote my mum a note.

its been many years since i talked to her. we’ve been on and off over the last 20. the reason i stopped talking to her, and she to me, this time, are complicated and painful. i would have to do a lot of work to let that go. im not a saint. i wish i was. i carry a lot of anger, grief and frustration. im not sure if can let go. im not sure if i will post the note. i might. i might not.

but i am luckier than most. i got help when i was completely lost, and i learnt ways of dealing with these things  called ‘family history’, ‘childhood trauma’ and ‘feelings’ that dont mean i come close to necking myself three times a week anymore. most of the time these days i am happier than i ever thought i would be. and i do have family. i have my sister, who is a wonderful bright crazy human being, and i have trent, who is like the big brother i never had (and also the annoying younger brother who smells), i have my gorgeous smelly furry dogs, and i have my friends. such great friends they are. and mostly all women. this is a turn up for me. i had major issues with women once, and had only male friends. now, not so much. its not that women are all wonderfully supportive either (as they are often portrayed), but i have found a group of them now who are there when i need them, who include me in their own family activities, who accept my strange habits (like not drinking enough) and annoying tendencies (like thinking too much), and who i love unconditionally.

also, they help me out when i run low on yarn (how’s that for a segue?) i have been trying to fnish the stripe study shawl. i know pictures of things in progress are infinitely boring, but it does look kind of pretty hanging in the almost bare magnolia:

i’m loving knitting this. im not bored with it yet, but i do want it to be finished. its not finished. its probably not even close. the pattern says to do 12 stripe repeats, and i only have 9 and a half.

and im running out of yarn:

the pattern says 2 x 440 yard skeins of yarn will do, and the madtosh sock is only 395 yards. this is not enough apparently. i could just stop and swap to the black border now, but this really is one of those shawls that you want to be able to wrap around yourself. the model in the picture can, but my knitter friends and i suspect she is like one of those knit-model dwarves they use in interweave knits all the time so that everything looks great on them and shit on you. i was talking to knitabulous about how maybe i should make the black stripes wider and use up some of that yarn and make it bigger that way. i was halfway through explaining this theory and she left the room. i thought she went to get a set of scales so we could weigh how much i had left. but no, she came back with this:

a whole other skein of ‘tart’. we did buy ours together, but i completely forgot she had one. and i would never have thought to ask for it because, you know, its madtosh sock in tart. everyone wants one of those, dont they? being the generous soul she is, knitabulous is going to swap me this skein of tart for one of the other madtosh sock skeins i bought recently. so i can keep going and make the shawl as big as i want, and wrap myself in its loveliness. and when i do i will think of my fantastic friends, and how lucky i am.

there is a single red rose in my garden at the moment. people walking past have been stopping to smell it.

this picture of it is for all my loved ones who help get me through every single day.

k xx

About DrK

researcher, knitter, dog lover View all posts by DrK

22 responses to “red scare

  • jennifer

    I love reading your posts.
    (nice shawl and rose, by the way)

  • Adele

    A lovely post. I do think people with “less than perfect” Mum’s can get lost on a day such as Mother’s Day. I know there have been year’s where I have been acutely aware that I have had struggles with my own mum. The fluffiness of Mother’s Day can be like salt in the wound at times. Thanks for acknowledging this in your post. Having said that, I did have a lovely day yesterday with my loving 7yo boy. His kisses and cuddles were all I needed to feel appreciated.

  • RoseRed

    Oh, so much to say! Where do I start?
    I hate the whole pink youngness of mothers day too (but not the presents, I’m afraid I do so love to get presents, heh!). Why is it decreed that all mothers love pink pyjamas and slippers, and are all, pretty much universally, young (ie in their early to mid 20s) and slim. According to all the advertising, they are anyway. GAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! Red pyjamas people, I just want red pyjamas!
    Ailsa is such a good sort to help you out with the yarn. The stripe study is looking so gorgeous, I do think you could stop now, but it would be a shame to not have it big enough to blanket around you. So so lovely.
    I’ve got a lovely yellow rose in my garden at the moment – picture it, for it is for you xx

  • Kris

    It was a very lovely post, Kylie. (And if I can be a total arty-farty nerd, it was well-written and constructed. I like how you tied the Red Scare bot with the red in the shawl and the red in the rose – and Mother’s Day fits in there too. And the photos were great!)

  • Ailsa

    I was never particularly emotionally invested in that tart anyway, you’re welcome to her..

  • 2paw

    We are each worthy, woman or man, mother or father: or not. It is commercialisation, where they make ‘holidays’ their own and want to make as much money as possible. We even had Easter Ice-cream cakes advertised. I don’t know what’s going on there!! How lovely that Knitabluous come to your rescue and you will b able to wrap yourself in your shawl.

  • sue

    I am glad that you have found a place where your happy. It isnt nice when family members hurt you, and I think it is easier to erase them from your life than to have to keep dealing with them. I think you have found your family of friends too and sometimes they are much nicer arent they. Your shawl is looking very pretty and how wonderful that Knitabulous had a skein to swap you so you could continue!

  • Melissa

    I have always thought of friends as the family you choose for yourself, is much better than the family you just happen to be born into.

    I too hate the hype and commercialisation of Mother’s Day (even though I love the swift I got this year!).

    The shawl is gorgeous and so is Ailsa for making sure you have enough yarn to make it the perfect size.

  • missfee

    I have some more tart if you need some more- love the study in stripes.

    Good on you for just being you – families well we can pick our family to start with – but we can edit and amend as we grow up

    You are blessed to have such great friends especially the furry ones

  • jp

    Families of choice are amazing

    Knitting friends are so generous with helping out when you are in a pinch!

  • Bells

    i think it’s a hard day for lots of people for lots of different reasons. I think your reasons are as difficult as any. Will be interested to hear if you post the note. It’s a hard thing to do, I know.

    The stripe study is amazing and Ailsa is a treasure for donating her skein. Good friends are even better if they share yarn!

    • drkknits

      I was surprised how sad I felt this year, sad for other people too. usually I just get angry at the advertising. maybe being sad, for all our reasons, is a good thing. I wasn’t going to say anything about it either, I don’t want to detract from the joy it brings some people, but you know me 🙂 leaning towards ‘don’t send’ on the note so far!

  • Donna

    I think the benefit in the note is the writing, rather than the sending. Some people just can’t (or won’t) face facts, no matter how they’re presented. But it’s therapeutic for you to write it down!
    And how nice is Ailsa?!?

  • Knitdra

    Sometimes I think this kind of sadness shows the acceptance moving in, and hopefully that means closer to freedom. How comforting your tarty shawl will be and the rose is stunning.

  • donna lee

    I have the same kind of thing with my own parents. My mother died without our ever changing the situation. I have some memories of fun but they are few and far between and all from when I was very little. As I grew into myself, I was less than acceptable. Our relationship grew strained and then nonexistent. Most mother’s days I let it go and didn’t think about it. I have my own children and have made sure that I didn’t repeat the mistakes my own mother made. At least I hope not.

    I wrote one of those letters to my dad. And I sent it. His response was that he didn’t understand and had no desire to do so. From that point on, I gave up. Sad? oh yea but strong and able to have a life that makes me happy more than not. Life is complicated. And I’ll stop here before I write an essay.

    I happen to think you’re clever and pretty darn terrific.

  • travellersyarn

    I think that you were right to continue the shawl – I think that larger shawls are more useful (they actually keep you warm), and more flattering (unless of course you happen to be a knit model dwarf).

    I’m not a fan of mother’s day – but wow, they hype it up at the kids’ school. Mine were aghast when I was trying to explain that it is a created hallmark holiday designed to sell things…

  • Leonie Tewierik

    I agree with the others, the bigger shawl will be more versatile, warm and comfy. Congrats to you on the extra skein and kudos to Ailsa for helping a friend.

    When I was young I used to say “We can’t choose our family we are born into it, we can only choose our friends” this was due to having a very challenging brother. Eventually I wrote a letter to my brother “to be opened upon my death” (dramatic 18 year old that I was) and I expressed my regret that our lives had been so challenging but I also thanked him because without those challenges I wouldn’t have the strength and drive to just get on with things that I now do. I found it a couple of years ago and had a right giggle at myself but also appreciated the truths that were still relevant. The writing of the letter helped me to put it all into perspective. Whether you send the letter or not, the writing of it is an important step. Before sending it, if that’s what you decide to do, think about how you’d feel if it’s welcomed and then if it’s not and whether your feelings are about you or your Mum. This may help you decide whether to send it or not. I hope you gain some resolution.

  • Jan

    Ailsa is a knitter of a generous heart and spirit as I have found out too.

    I’m about to start the eighth contrast stripe on the study shawl, deep green and black, both from stash. I’m loving it too and also downloaded her other pattern for a similar scarf. Love the colours in yours but used stash for mine.

    Probably writing that letter was good for you, even if it’s never sent. I sat down and wrote to my ex after I left. Page upon page, almost stream of consciousness, James Joyce stuff. I kept it a couple of days, then took it outside in the rain and with great ceremony burnt it, page by page. I found that very freeing.

  • gidgetknits

    I love the way the shawl is developing! And that is so cool that a friend gave you the extra skein.

  • LynS

    How wonderful to have the extra ‘tart’ for your shawl. As the weather gets colder I’ve been developing a desire for a BIG shawl – so I’ll watch this shawl development with interest. Don’t be faint-hearted. Make it grand.

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