Back at the turn of the year, I took an online course that necessitated me looking at myself, as well as the other participants, for a considerable length of time.
I am not a fan of the looking glass, and this prolonged exposure to my features was uncomfortable. I began to form a conviction that my hair was not doing much for me. Since it was a course on being purposeful – I decided to be just that and have my locks chopped.
This did not go well and led me to form a dependent relationship with hats and headbands, which I am still working through. Luckily, I like making hats and headbands – and so confident have I become that I decided to ditch the patterns and make one up as I went along.
I was given someone’s entire stash of pure wool some time back, and decided that I would make a felted headband. I also thought this would be a good time to have a bash at a Fair Isle design, which, for the uninitiated, involves working with two or more colours in a set pattern.
Fast forward to the end product, which is not really, as a politician would say, fit for purpose. Too wide, too thick, too long, too scratchy, too prone to falling off my head.
But here’s the beautiful thing – I consider the headband to be a soaraway success.
Firstly, I learnt stuff. I learnt that an i-cord (bit like French knitting) is a jolly good idea for a headband (thank you Wool on the Exe). I learnt how to do a Fair Isle pattern and that it was every bit as finicky as I thought it would be. I worked out how to increase and decrease while keeping the pattern. I tried different felting techniques. And I learnt never to make this particular headband again.
Secondly, I had hours of mindful activity. The pattern demanded my attention. I had to think nearly every stitch about what I was doing. This is the nugget of gold – mindful knitting. Mindfulness is broadly defined as ‘being in the present moment, with acceptance’. Most of us know that this is somehow good for us – but not so much why.
The reason mindfulness is good for us is simply that it quietens the narrative we have running pretty much constantly. This narrative is very useful – it is processing the information that comes in. However, it doesn’t always process it correctly – in fact, often it is very wide of the mark. The stare that woman just gave me? Does she think she’s better than me? Have I got porridge in my hair (again)? My narrative runs – and runs – and runs. It will never know that the woman looked long at me because I reminded her of someone she once knew, so in place of the explanation it makes stuff up – bad stuff.
Mindfulness helps us quell this chatter – and the more we practise it, the more the chatter is quelled, or that we learn to question it. Anything that helps us with this practice is golden. If it also teaches us and ends up as something sort of useful at the end, it is a golden nugget.
Hence my headband is a great success. And even if I slip it in the charity bag in the hope it will find someone with a bigger, less sensitive, head – it will remain so.