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Organized Chaos

Hi all! My name’s Rachel, and I’m a sophomore in Electrical
Engineering here at Caltech. Throughout the course of this blog, I hope to
share with you a few of my experiences here.

I’d like to start off by telling you something you probably
already know: Tech is hard. Just how difficult is it? Well, over the course of
the blog, you’ll be able to look into a little window on my life at the chaos
within and hopefully get a little taste of the answer to that question.

In the coming weeks and months, I will be describing mostly
the things that stress me out, and the various methods I use to alleviate that
stress. Everybody handles stress differently, and I’ll be trying all sorts of
new and interesting ways to do it. So, here’s my first method I use to
de-stress, and this one isn’t too common among students at Tech: crocheting!

I know what you’re thinking: isn’t knitting and crocheting
for old ladies? Well, maybe. But most people I know that knit or crochet are
remarkably calm and relaxed, so maybe there’s something to this working with
yarn thing.

I picked up the habit when I was about 10 years old. I was
on a plane to London, and it was a very long plane ride, especially when you
have the attention span of a 10-year-old. I was sitting next to a woman who
looked to be in her 60’s, and she was knitting a sweater for a granddaughter. I
was fascinated by what she was doing. How could a single strand of yarn be
woven into something so complex and beautiful? How did she keep track of the
pattern without a paper to reference it? I watched her for a while, and she
eventually noticed and offered to teach me the basics of knitting. I of course
agreed, and have hardly gone a month without picking up knitting needles or a
crochet hook since.

So why does this relax me? I can’t be sure, but it must be
some combination of the mindless repetitiveness of each stitch, such that once
you master it you hardly have to look at what you’re doing, along with the fact
that such a simple task can create something tangible and even useful after
hours of hard work. The sense of accomplishment after finally finishing a large
project is indescribable.

not just any gloves. They are fingerless gloves that have a flap capable of
turning them into mittens, and the remarkable thing is that they are made all
in a single piece: no cutting, no sewing pieces together: one single strand of
yarn, and thousands of organized tangles molded into something amazing.

Maybe my yarn working only feeds the slightly obsessive
habits I have. Maybe I’m secretly an old maid in my head, in a 19-year-old’s
body. Who knows? But this works for me, and it’s my first go-to activity when I
can’t handle the stress of work.

Rachel G.