I do not feel very connected. I don't know who grew the squash I used for dinner tonight, or who raised the chickens that laid my eggs. I don't know my neighbours (well, I only have one neighbour right now, and one day I will explain why I don't particularly want to know him, but that's not the point). I shop in town as much as I can; there's a new little bookstore with one of those appallingly cute names which has an excellent selection of new and used books. The lady at the post office, after six months of essentially the same conversation, now recognizes me when I come in to get my mail, but that's about as far as it goes.
Knitting makes me feel connected.
Take the new sweater, for instance. It was designed by a lady whose blog I read. She and her wife own Make 1 Yarn Studio in Bridgeland, which I love dearly. A couple of weeks ago, I bought the yarn for the sweater at Make 1, and it made me think about all of this, about knitting and community and convenience and art.
If it was just a sweater I wanted, I could have gone to Wal Mart and got one for less than fifty bucks. It would be exactly like 2.5 million others, it would be made by a machine that was probably operated by a child the same age as my boy, in a factory in China somewhere. But a sweater it would be. It would keep me warm when my classroom gets cold, it would do the job I need it to do, it might even be stylish. (Let's not hope for too much, though. Really now.)
It would not have cost very much, and I would not have to spend hours and hours of my free time (that is, the time I am not spending marking) carefully pulling one loop of wool through another using a pair of pointed sticks in order to make it.
The yarn I bought was Manos, which I love.
It's made by a women's collective in Uruguay, and they sign their name.
The knitting book I just finished reading says that making your own clothing is an act of subversion, an opting out of the corporate world that values dollars over lives. A small reclaiming of our own connectedness to the world, and our obligations to the people around us.
This sweater is going to cost me a lot more than one I could buy at Wal Mart, but I think it's going to be worth every penny.