Sailing Out of the Doldrums

May 29, 2018

The doldrums: an equatorial region of the Atlantic Ocean with calms, sudden storms, and light unpredictable winds that has come to mean a period of stagnation or depression.

Sometimes we get stuck, the wind goes out of our sails and we lose impetus and direction in our crafting. I often feel like this during a long project, when the excitement of new ideas has passed and the execution is feeling a little tired. I also know that this is no time to leave a project, as completion brings its own rewards but in past I’ve tended to just push on regardless of waning enthusiasm, driving myself forward to the end.  If there is anything that a chronic fatigue condition has taught me is that there is another way, a kinder way forward that attends both to the long term goal and the dispirited self.

I have learned that having a rest and exploring something else for a while is both restorative and actually helps me get back to the project with renewed interest and perhaps slightly different perspective. I recently encountered the doledrums with Tuff Socks Naturally when the repetition of fleece preparation, spinning, knitting and testing had begun to feel grueling rather than intriguing. Instead of pushing through, I tried my new approach: I stopped and cast on something just for me, just for fun, just for play.

I turned to two balls of alpaca which had been enticing me since I received them more than a year ago, all the way from Northumberland in the UK. They hadn’t even made it into stash, as I knew I wanted them close at hand. I was quite sick at the time I received them and I couldn’t get my brain sorted to work out how to use them. So they waited comfortingly on the bookshelf in my room until the right moment. Then, after a wander through Mary Jane Mucklestone’s 150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs (2013), I spontaneously took up the yarn and cast on a cowl.

I used the motif on page 51 and 5 mm needles and just had a play. It was the most delightful knitting, the yarn was buttery soft but with a robust twist and the colourwork motif worked its compelling magic upon me. In next to no time, I had a lovely warm cowl, a head full of ideas and the energy I needed to keep going with socks. It keeps me warm on the walks to and from school as the temperature drops and the wind picks up for winter in Ballarat.

So when you find yourself in the doldrums, in knitting or in life, I hope you find something kind you can turn to till the wind fills your sails once more.