Friday, May 31, 2013



Periodically, I take up knitting.   I learned to knit many years ago in Brownies, the prequel to Girl Guides.   Due to budget constraints, no doubt, we learned on chopsticks but I do not in any way attribute my subsequent experiences to this introduction.

I admire knitters and I wish I could be good at it.   Next to perusing fabric, I like looking at yarns.   In a yarn store--and there aren't too many of those around any more--I can spend a long time fingering the different skeins, looking at the patterns and colours.   I've found an on-line yarn shop which doesn't provide quite the same tactile pleasure but can still suffice.   I enjoy filling up an on-line shopping cart with delicious balls of yarns with names like Ornaghi Filati Peluche and Manos de Uruguay and Jo Joland Rhythm, not to mention yarn colours like burnished tangerine, ballet pink, moss garden, violet forest and oasis.

I think a job just thinking up yarn names would be a creative form of writing.  No plot, just the delicious sounds of alliteration, hyperbole and onomatopoeia with some foreign enunciations thrown in.   I like to buy the yarn, after lengthy consideration, and the pattern--there are thousands to choose from.   I enjoy anticipating the delivery of said yarn and pattern and picking up the box from the post office and slitting the packing tape and opening the box and . . . usually the pleasure stops there.

Now I have to look at the pattern directions which seem exceedingly complicated, checking the abbreviations which vary from pattern to pattern, country to country.   CO, DEC, YO, BO  -- you get the idea.   Then I start, full of hope.

The thing about knitting is that, ideally, you can get into a certain peaceful state of restful semi-somnolence.   Your fingers move of their own accord, hypothetically producing beautiful patterns and woollen fabric beneath the knitting needles.  You get into a kind of 'zone'.   I've read that knitting helps reduce blood pressure and has a generally calming meditative effect.   I can believe that.   I think they're talking about other people, though. 

 What happens to me, inevitably, is that things go awry.   I lose track, I lose count, I forget which row I'm on.   I consult scraps of paper where I have made tally marks to try to keep my place in the pattern.   A hole develops in a row --Why?  I quaver; is it very bad?   Can I keep going?   Would it be noticed?   Is it in an inconspicuous spot?   Curses, no.   Once you give in and accept imperfection, it's downhill from there.   That happens often.   Today, I decide to follow what you are supposed to do and unravel the row.   Alas, I'm weak at that skill as well.   I lose a stitch and don't realize it.   I put the remaining stitches back on the knitting needle but facing the wrong direction.   When I start up again, it hasn't helped.   

I take a few deep breaths.   I put my knitting and remaining balls in a bag by my chair, waiting for a time when inspiration--and a solution--comes.   A week later I put the bag in a closet.   Out of sight . . . you know the rest.    Guilt descends.   Feelings of incompetence.   I go back to writing and start to feel much better.   I tell myself I should think of knitting like taking a walk in nature--it's the journey not the destination.   It's the process not the product.    Sigh.

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