My sister was the one who started the idea in my head. “Have you ever heard about a ‘weather scarf’?” she asked. I hadn’t. She explained that she had heard that someone had knit a scarf with colors for daily temperatures and she thought I might want to do that now that climate change has brought my Northern Virginia hometown more wild swings in temperatures.
Tracking the temperatures in a scarf didn’t interest me. But my mind jumped right to something that I liked much more: making a scarf to track my moods over a one year period.
I’ve been telling everyone how 2018 was such a depressing year, how I probably spent 85-95% of 2018 being depressed or outraged by the person in the White House and his entitled minions in the Capitol.
A mood scarf would be a chance to see if I really did spend that much of my time depressed or mad because of the amoral person in the White House (and his GOP minions who are perhaps worse because they used to have some integrity and intelligence of their own)(theoretically). I expected that I would see that, yes, living within 25 miles of these people who are destroying our planet, killing off species, insulting and degrading brown peoples, the injured, the poor, the immigrants–THAT would naturally make me a flaming ball of outrage. And when the energy drained from me, I’d be depressed. So, I did expect to see my scarf turn out black, grey, red, and orange…
But still, I persisted. The scarf would reveal what it revealed.
I choose a finite set of colors to associate with what I thought were distinct moods I could track. In the beginning, there were 8 colors:
Yellow = radiantly happy
Pink = Good energy, healthy mind
Green = In the flow, creative, productive, connected
Blue = Low energy, sad, lonely
Orange = Rattled, fearful for our country, the future
Red = Fuming with anger, frustrated and energized by anger
Gray = Low energy, pessimistic, hopeless for our country, for the future
Black = Deeply depressed, sad, defeated
I would knit 24 stitches in each row, corresponding to the hours in a day. I thought that by knitting in the very textural seed stitch, I could be more definite about my moods and could track them better as they shifted. I’d keep a corresponding written journal so that I could look back to a month that had days of red or black and I could be reminded about what caused the moods/colors.
I began on January 1st… It took a few days to get into the habit of knitting at the very end of a day, and to revise if needed the next morning (a nightmare woke me one morning, so I had to re-knit the colors of the night before), and to take time to write the mostly prosaic happenings and moods of the day.
But by now, the 4th week of January, I had to make some changes… First was the seed stitch which wasn’t working out. As a texture, the raised bumps for each hour distracted from the compartmentalized aspect of a day. The effect looked like Seurat’s pointillism in yarn. I wasn’t “reading” a row as a day. I would rip out and re-knit in garter stitch, making sure to keep the color changes exactly as they were.
Now, a day looked like a row, and read as a day. Whew.
Then there was the growing sense that there HAD to be another color added. As I was expecting the scarf to be a depressing mix of depression, hopelessness, anger, and fear, with a lot of sadness added in, I had only introduced three colors to express emotions that were more positive. I needed a color for a benign state of… what to call it? Not laughing, not happiness–those were too extreme. A color to express benign contentment. And that HAD to be purple. So, purple appeared for the first time yesterday, January 21st and I expect it to have a solid role in the year of mood tracking.
Not a whole month has gone by, but already I am surprised by the fact that no red, or black appeared. Of course, no yellow did, either. But not just the absence of extreme moods, but that I didn’t spend much time at all in orange fear, and less time than I would have thought in hopeless gray. How bad do things need to get to affect my mood?
The government has now been partially shut down by the WH Occupant’s demand for billions of dollars for a border wall. 800,000 federal workers have not been getting paid all this time. They can’t go on unemployment (they were not fired). Or get relief from paying rents, mortgage, car payments, food, shelter, etc. National parks have been irrevocably damaged by ATV hooligans, and people running all over protected, fragile landscapes. TSA agents are calling in sick rather than working for now pay, so air travel is really messed up. Things are really, really bad these days. But it’s not showing up correspondingly in my mood scarf.
We shall see what is revealed. I will update with photos each month.
“As life goes on it becomes tiring to keep up the character you invented for yourself, and so you relapse into individuality and become more like yourself every day.
This is sometimes disconcerting for those around you,
but a great relief to the person concerned.” — Agatha Christie