Friday, April 5, 2013

Diana’s Aran Shawl from Three Black Sheep - Day 5

Yarn brain...

The section features a lovely honeycomb cable.  Like most cables, it is one or two difficult rows separated by lot of repetitive and simple rows.  And, like most challenging patterns, it can make smoke come out of your ears until you really get your brain around the logistics of what’s truly happening.  

By the second half of the section, I didn’t need to look at the pattern because I understood why stitches went where they did, why stitches stacked one on the other row by row, and how the design was built.  It’s a kind of engineering (although the real kind of engineering eludes me, and I seem to live in a house full of engineers!).  My brain enjoys figuring out how patterns work.

According to research, that’s a good thing.  I’ve become enthralled by TED Talks recently--very good knitting entertainment, by the way--and I stumbled upon this one where Alanna Shaikh prepares herself for the possibility of Alzheimer’s. My June novel has an Alzheimer’s patient as a character, so I’ve dabbled in research about this disease. I loved Shaikh’s attitude; rather than fear the possibility since her father has the disease and it is carried genetically, she chose to find ways to prepare herself for the best possible outcome should she start to show symptoms.  That in itself is inspiring, but there’s more.

What surprised me about this speech was the knitting connection.  Evidently advanced Alzheimer’s patients are happiest when doing tactical things with a high familiarity.  In other words, she talks about taking up knitting specifically to provide comfort and entertainment should dementia enter her life.  Knitting as medical benefit, as occupational therapy--we’ve known bits of this since WWI when “shell shock” patients were taught knitting, but isn’t it marvelous how science is learning why knitting meets so many human needs besides warmth!  When I consider the shocking statistics of how prevalent Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other dementia-related illnesses will be in the coming decades, I want to stand on a street corner and hand out yarn and needles!

Knitting is good for us.  Knitting is good to us.  Knitting is good, period.

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