Knot Telling and Telling Knots

My Twitter profile (@knotellin) puts it like this:

Medicine and psych, Middle East and politics, words and languages, religion and spirituality, wrapping thread around air. Also, I have stage IV breast cancer.

I am a sixty-year-old woman in my late fifties(*) living in Jerusalem, on the border between the East (Arab) and West (Jewish) parts of this city holy to three religions. I am both spiritual and religious and I try to live my beliefs more than I talk about them.

I have been a writer, an editor, an interpreter and a translator. I’ve been a house cleaner, an academic, an archivist, and an advanced practice nurse. I make bobbin lace, tat, knit, crochet and embroider, but I’m really bad at plain sewing. (EDIT April 2015: My hands don’t work well any more. I can no longer make bobbin lace or tat or knit or embroider. I can still crochet, as long as it’s with thicker wool, not lace weight.)

I love absurdities and humor and I am essentially a happy, positive person. I try to be kind to everyone, and I’m slowly getting better at it.

And yes, I am living with metastatic breast cancer, a fact that has so many more implications than “merely” the fact that I will probably die much, much sooner than I had expected.

This blog is about all of these things.

What does “Telling Knots” mean?

Telling Knots is a phrase with layers of meaning for me. My handle on Twitter and in commenting on blogs is Knot Telling – I don’t reveal my name. So to start with, it’s a pun. I’m not telling any more than I choose to.

Telling, recounting, counting… We have the image of nuns “telling their beads” in the shady coolness of a church side chapel. An old meaning of tell is “to count one by one”. Story telling – recounting a story. Reviewing its elements, one-by-one. I hope to tell many things in this blog: little bits of one woman’s life and spirituality, glimpses of larger events on the world horizon.

Knots. My life has not been without byzantine complications, seemingly irresolvable. But they get resolved with patience. I learn patience from my one of my greatest pleasures in life: wrapping thread around air. This is a phrase that some lacemakers use to describe their craft, their art. I am a lacemaker, too, and have made the phrase my own. Most forms of lace involve twisting and crossing threads one over another, but some – like tatting – use actual knots. So “telling knots” sometimes means checking my work against a lace pattern, counting my stitches. Reviewing my lacemaking, reviewing my life.

Wrapping thread around air – what? Lacemaking involves bringing lengths of thread from the simplest form to the most elaborate, with combinations of crossovers or twistings. I think that our lives, our personal histories are like that. Sometimes elaborate and complex, sometimes an easily understood progression from here to over there.

I suppose another name for this blog could be Life as Lace.

(*)I had a birthday!

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