During this election season (and most election seasons), I attempt to avoid the news, the debates, the utter propaganda which pervades our days as a way to preserve my sanity. Finding the truth seems to be an almost futile effort. Wading through the mountain of information available at our fingertips, hearing the bombast of the candidates, watching my friends and family argue the merits of their candidate online – all of that makes my blood boil and pushes me to hide under the covers instead of engaging in the debate.
I have been a person who just turned off the news. I’ve gone on media fasts. I record all of my television viewing so I can fast-forward through the commercials.
So how can I stay engaged and discover the information that I need to stay informed when I can’t even bear to watch the bluster on the news? How can I engage with my friends and family when I don’t even want to know what they think for fear that my impression of them will be ruined?
I had to find a way to cope.
As a young child, I carried around a blankie (which I called my “gee-gee”) and sucked my thumb. It’s a classic! (Think Linus from “Peanuts.”) This technique of self-soothing kept me a happy child through several major moves, each containing their own losses of friends and family. Very effective.
Thinking on that and knowing that, as an adult, carrying around a blanket (not to mention the thumb sucking) isn’t the best option, I considered new ways to self-sooth.
These days, my most effective coping technique is knitting. I knit most moments that I am sitting or standing still. If I am watching television or riding in the car, I have my knitting in my hands. At the theater, you’ll find me knitting in the dark. Standing in line at the post office or the DMV or anywhere else I have to stand in a line, I pull my handy sock-in-progress out of my pocket and knit, knit, knit.
Still, even if I knitted a blankie, I couldn’t carry it around with me. How could I create something that could comfort me all day long and not create an embarassing moment where a co-worker finds me cuddling it and sucking my thumb?
The poncho is basically a blanket that you pull over your head and wear all day long. What an invention!
As the repetition of the simple knit stitch is the most soothing to me, I decided to knit in the round and create a piece which was mostly stockinette. I could work on this poncho, snuggle into its “blankieness,” and listen through the bombast of the politicians to find the few facts necessary to inform myself.
I could work on this poncho and laugh off the propaganda on social media.
I could work on this poncho and have a conversation – a real conversation where each person speaks their belief or view or position and listens to the other side with an open ear and without a judgement (at least on my part). I could stop myself from jumping to conclusions and release myself from having to defend my point of view. Instead of defending, I could listen. Instead of reacting, I could respond because I had listened to the entire sentence, view, position.
And I have my knitting to soothe me and keep me calm.
Then, once the poncho was completed, I can wear my blankie as I walk around.
I will cuddle into it on election night. I will throw it on when I know that my workday will be challenging. I will toss it onto my shoulders when I know I have something to face which makes my heart shiver and tears flow involuntarily down my cheeks.
Plus, I’ll still look stylish.
A portable, stylish blankie.
I have the Linus’ Dream poncho available online at Ravelry. The cost is $6.00, and I recommend the Mushishi Big to add interest to your piece, but any bulky yarn will do. The Linus’ Dream is knitted up on US size 11 circular needles in varying lengths (I started on 16″ and went all the way to 32″.)
Many thanks to Lisa Houchins of Meanest Mommy Knits for her fabulous tech editing!