Tangled

I knit, which means I spend a lot of quality time with yarn. A lot of yarns come in skeins, which are strands of yarn looped together in a loose coil. These large loops become easily tangled, so knitters often use a yarn winder, a device with a handle that you can crank and a cone in the middle for a strand of yarn, plus a yarn swift, an apparatus that holds the skein in a wide circle, to wind the skein into a compact ball. But if you have a yarn winder but no yarn swift, there are lots of opportunities for the yarn to become tangled as you attempt to wind it.

When a ball of yarn becomes tangled, it can be tempting to fight it. You may instinctively want to take the long strand of untangled yarn, the one part that looks “normal,” and pull on it. And at first that might work. But you will soon find that this strategy yields a tight knot at the center of the tangle that will not budge. Time to try a different solution.

Instead of pulling the tangle tighter, the opposite often proves more effective. It helps to loosen the knot, to pull back and relax the yarn instead of tugging on it. This letting go requires patience and attention, a willingness to explore what exists in your hands. You have to follow some paths that will get you nowhere. You may have to backtrack or even make things messier before they become neat. No matter how much you crave to make order from chaos, you sometimes have to dwell in the chaos for a while before order arrives.

The same often proves true in life.

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