In Times of Turmoil, She Turns to Yarn


It’s a bad sign when I start to knit or crochet



In the weeks before the presidential election

I picked up my crochet hook

for the first time in four years

and proceeded to make


one elephant

three pairs of socks

one market bag

two potholders

one manta ray

one skirt and matching headband

two adult-sized scarves

one toddler scarf and mittens

one doll outfit

and one stuffed owl

(that the dog promptly destroyed)

all in about three weeks.


I was a crocheting machine.


I couldn’t stop myself.  Every time

we watched the Daily Show

or the actual news

or even read blogs

talking about the news


I picked up my hook

because there was absolutely nothing

I could do

to affect what was happening

on a national scale.


In the face of that

yarn and hook were small and concrete

and controlled.


And now it’s happening again.

America has a new president

but Sri Lanka, my homeland

roils in what may be the last death throes

of a twenty-plus-year civil war

with hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians

trapped in the jungle

caught in the cross-fire.


Relief workers denied entry

government shelling of ‘safe zones’

shaky videos of children

crying as they climb in and out of holes

trying to escape the mortar shells


it is too much.


I pick up needles this time

I am learning to knit

I make a sweater, a scarf, a hat.

I knit until my shoulders are tight

until my hands ache

and Kevin takes away the needles for the night.


Perhaps I will take up spinning next

or dyeing

or we will move to the Andes

and start an alpaca farm.

We can live among the alpacas

slow, gentle creatures

harvesting their wool

without harming a soul.

If I start with the alpacas

I can control the process


from beginning to end.