Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dear Knitters

Warning: I shall be waxing poetic in following epistle. Hold on to your strands.

Mercerized cotton is something to fear. It is light; probably considered a sportweight and not a bulky or sock weight. It is not something one knits on large needles. It is slippery and shivering and it takes HOURS to knit up 108 yards of the stuff in Stockinette stitch. Sure, sure, I know the definition of mercerized, and you can read about it here. Very informative. But I think mercerized is merely a code word for Patience.

I began knitting because it looked like something people enjoyed doing, for whatever reason. I thought perhaps it was the community that knitting has inspired; I wanted to gain more friends through knitting. And I have.

Through those first awkward days of holding the needles like a child holding a pen for the first time, and through the uneven stitches of my first swatch, I thought about what I was doing and couldn't wait to complete a project--a whole, entire project!--and show it to others, so that while they oooh-ed and aaaah-ed over the fabric, I could beam and say, "I made it myself!"
And then, I finished the first project--and was dismayed. It looked horrible. It's nothing I can wear in public seriously. It has holes and dropped stitches and uneven ribs and ghastly bumps everywhere. So, if I did say anything like "I made it myself!" it would sound more like a plea for pity.

But I keep knitting.

As the weeks have passed, I have made with reasonable success a shawl and two hats. I have succeeded in making a lace capelet but I hated the end result so much that I frogged the entire thing (rippit! rippit!) and sigh often, thinking about the yarn that is currently sitting in my yellow plastic bag housing my stash.

These finished products are no Vogue cover, I assure you. They are well-followed instructions, merely--kind enough to fall into the pattern intended. I do not think people shall be stopping me on the street to inquire "WhereEVER did you buy such a GORGEOUS shawl?" However, the shawl will keep me warm. So, I am successful, yes?

I have decided to try my hand at something a bit more complicated. Not much, mind you. I can't go near double pointed needles anytime soon without getting an image of one jumping up and sticking me in the eye. Socks are not in my future. No, this is a vest--a cute little pattern of a thing found in the SnB Nation (the same culprit that convinced me to attempt the Spiderweb Capelet). It calls for nine skeins of mercerized cotton on size five needles. I moved up to size six.

It's taking forever.

In three days, I have not yet knit up one ball. I have seven inches of Stockinette stitch. At the very bottom corner, I somehow put an eyelet in and the hole is quite visible. Three inches up from that, I dropped two stitches and attempted to weave them back in, making a very obvious botched attempt at correcting the problem. I'm too lazy to go back and fix those stitches properly, so the fabric has wiggled a bit at that edge. I'm hoping seaming will fix this. Throughout the fabric, there are little slubs where I either lost tension or changed some small part of my routine--only noticeable in bright light. My hands hurt after working for an hour or so, because of the small needles. I have very little confidence in my ability to pull this off. So why do I persist?

Because I am finding that I do not knit for the sake of completing a beautiful product. I knit because I am looking for peace. And this activity brings it to me. I knit myself into Zen, truly. The other day, I was sitting in silence, watching the litany of my hands weave this slippery, shiny cotton, and I began to fall asleep even as I knit. This is a state I have only read of in transcendent Buddhist philosophy. I had to shake myself before I saw a lotus flower in my purls.

I knit because I have bonded with a woman I have never met. I knit because I have met three wonderful women who I already consider dear friends even though I have known them less than two months. I knit because strangers email me about sales on Addi Turbos. I knit because I am creating a story of peace as I weave one strand with another, over and over and over. I knit, therefore, I am.

So: if the day ever comes that I create a flawless fabric that shimmers against my skin perfectly, and cries out "art d'object!" and gathers crowds of admirers, I will be pleased momentarily. When I finish this vest, with its slubs and holes and dropped stitches, and I press it against my skin, it's pink, pink shine smiling in spite of itself, I will merely be glad to know I possessed the patience and peace needed for mercerized cotton.

And then, I shall begin to knit anew.

My Lotus Flower
My very own lotus flower....


Blogger Stuntmother said...

You're so great. You're so Fritz. This is an ode to knitting. Who knew what you were stepping into when you stepped?

I love your lotus.

5:34 AM  
Blogger ghw said...

Me too :)
I also like the colour-switching birds.

Greetings from Germany, G√ľnter

5:55 AM  

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