Birthdays- a reflection and knitting my transition shawl


My birthday is coming up at the end of the week and as a result, I am reflecting on my past year and looking to the future. Last year,  when I turned 50, I was wondering at the time about what my next year would bring. September brought the year of “not being needed”. At first I was sad and perhaps felt a little lost at the prospect of really “not being needed”! My life as a caregiver was over. My parents were both no longer and therefore not needing me. My children were both off to university and I didn’t have any international students living with our family after June. I wasn’t completely “not needed”, I had two dogs, my constant companion Daisy (age 10 1/2) and Lilly, a playful energetic puppy who was 6 months old.

“Just knit your way through this transition” was the advice from my creative weaving/knitting friend when I asked her how was I going to do this? How was I going to figure out my new phase of my Mom role, my life? She suggested when I went out to Nova Scotia to visit my oldest daughter who showed me the world she had created for herself, all by herself, over the previous 2 years, that I go to a knitting store and ask to buy a project and just start. Just start knitting. I love knitting. So I did. As I have done in the past with different kinds of projects, I chose a project I had never done before, and something not only I hadn’t done before, but more than that- that I didn’t really think I could do. The young woman in the shop was encouraging. Helping me to start the pattern and showing me how to begin. I was inspired by the same project that she was so successfully working on. The wool was so soft and lovely to work with. The needles were a new kind I had never worked with before.


Being a small town, and being in such a wonderful part of our country, there was a small table in the bay window and knitters were encouraged to come by and just drink tea and knit there. So I did. When my daughter was busy with her classes and work, I had somewhere to go. I sat in the window seat as people came – and I did what I love to do best– listen and share stories. The women I met in that window were hardworking, creative people working through hard problems in their life- their own transitions. Some were self imposed changes in their lives, others, well, life changes and throws us challenges… These women were knitting their way through these changes. They popped in before shifts at the hospital or because they were on disability and wished they had the community they used to have at work. Some lived in this small town, some came from other smaller places- feeling at home here.


A few days later, I left my daughter and her lovely town and went to stay in another town an hour’s drive away. She was busy with training, classes and work. I didn’t want to be in the way, and also I do love to travel on my own. The train only leaves from Halifax back to Montreal three times a week. I would explore here until Wednesday when I would board the train for the next part of my journey.  I love Canada and I feel safe by myself. I talk with people wherever I go, so I never feel lonely. I am also not lonely when I am alone.

It was a Sunday. A small town on the way to where I was staying had a knitting store, and a Sunday drop-in group. I couldn’t believe it- 3 of the 8 people sitting on mismatched chairs in a circle in the centre of the store had lived on the west coast- in Victoria! They asked if I was in town on Tuesday. They meet again then with slightly different membership, given people’s work schedules. They ask me to join them. I accept with gratitude. These women ( and one man) are doers. They help neighbours, drive older knitters (who were working on making socks to give away) to this group, bake for others, care give for aging parents and other community members. They drive by themselves to Montreal to sell their handmade projects at a fair, getting lost along the way. They have stories to tell, and were interested in meeting me and hearing about what I had to say. They were accepting of different people’s styles, knitting styles and lifestyles.


At the Inn where I stayed in Lunenburg, I sat in a bay window overlooking the most beautiful scene- listening to the horses hooves as they clipped along the road pulling a carriage, the low voices of fellow travelers sitting on the deck below me enjoying each other’s company and the warm late day sun. I knit. I made mistakes, I took it up. I knit it again. More mistakes, repeat. I listened to CBC radio on my i-phone and knit.


On Tuesday, I came back with some treats to share from a lovely local bakery/cafe. I wanted to bring something to share for tea. I wanted to tell them how important they were to me – to my experience of this place, to the conversation that was happening in my head about transitions. The conversation which was trying to answer the question: what happens next in life when you are no longer needed? They helped me form my answer. You go to a knitting store, ask to buy a project and you knit your way through it. You just keep knitting and it will come to you. The answer. The next step. You just keep knitting.



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