The winter is a hard time for me and I know I'm not the only one who struggles this time of year. Cabin fever can hit us all to the point that we find ourselves leisurely strolling through the cereal isle at the grocery store, basking in our clever escape from our own four walls. I strike up conversations with strangers about the latest weather reports in an attempt to keep my use of language addressing adults in proper form for when the snow melts and we all emerge from our houses in the spring, squinting and pale. Winter has me feeling a bit like a caged animal at times, but over the years I've found things that help me find calm.
I can't be calm anymore than I can be purple (which would be cool by the way). I have to actively seek it out. Things that help me are activities that use enough thought to keep my mind from wandering but not enough to feel like a chore. Clearly I like to knit. Why do I love to knit sweaters in the winter? Because miles of stockinette in the round is meditating when my mind is frazzled. I click those needles in the same way and can close my eyes as my hands take over and move the yarn across slowly and purposefully.
This week I've been upping my game a bit and using the spinning wheel despite the family's misconception that if I'm sitting down I must be in need of something to do, at which point they try to "help" me by asking for assistance on all kinds of normally routine tasks. (Where is the milk? Really? It's in the fridge.) Every time I sit at my wheel (a Lendrum whose name is Linley), I always wonder why I let so much time pass since our last session.
The treadling of my feet sends my body a calming rhythm that soothes my soul and sets a slow and steady pace for my breathing. The delicate fiber in my rough and worn Mom hands reminds me to relax and loosen my grip. I fall into a trance as the wheel spins round and round with a soft hum. I let my thoughts drift naturally from one to the other, never resting. It is quite a magical machine, a wheel.
I like to spin a sort of woolen style with roving using a modified long draw. For those of you who are not spinners (yet), this is a style that requires you to let go (literally of holding the twist back) and results in a light and lofty yarn. While my skills are not great, I don't care. I don't feel the need to compare my spinning to the person next to me. I don't even care if I spin something usable. I have built this safe area where I can try something new and fail spectacularly but still honestly enjoy the journey. Everyone needs a place like that in their lives, a place to find the calm.