Purling Patience

The first thing I knit was a red scarf, made from angora yarn which was extremely fuzzy and the very devil to work with. Like most projects I embark on, it took me only a few hours to make the first 90%, and then four days to do the remainder.

I’ve been knitting for around seven years now. You’d think, after seven years, that I would be some incredibly bad ass knitter with amazing skills, but you would be wrong. Like most things I take up, I knit intermittently, when the feeling strikes me, so I might spend 40 hours knitting one week and then not pick up the needles for three months. But I really do like knitting, when I do it.

I started knitting because a friend of mine was working on a scarf and it looked interesting, like a hobby I might enjoy.

“Can you teach me how to do that,” I said, and she got out a pair of needles and some worsted weight yarn and spent 15 minutes explaining how to cast on and chuckling as I ended up with a huge pile of tangled yarn which her cat promptly attacked. After about three hours, I managed to cast on a small row of stitches and knit a little sample. The stitches weren’t terribly even, and the whole thing was a bit damp from the cat chewing on it, but I had knitted something. Then she showed me how to purl, and another three hours later, I was onto shaky rows of ribbing.

With my newfound skill, I decided to knit the aforementioned red scarf, and I equipped myself with the necessary needles and yarn. My father chuckled when he came home to find me knitting on the couch, but within a few months he was trying to enlist me to repair his holey sweaters and knit socks. (I have yet to attempt socks. They scare me.) I also began to acquire yarn, and needles, and now I have a big trunk full of knitting things, which is rather nice, as I have lots of yarn to play with when the mood strikes me.

There are a couple of reasons I like knitting. I really enjoy the sense of producing something, starting with skeins of yarn and ending up with a hat, sweater, scarf, shawl, gloves, whatever. I love watching the project develop, feeling it get weighty in my hands. I also really enjoy making things for people, and I find that knitting is sort of like a form of meditation, for me. It’s an art which requires patience and an attention for detail, two traits which I do not have. I always feel like my personality improves when I’m knitting more frequently, because it forces me to be more slow and thoughtful.

A lot of work goes into a knitted garment, as anyone who knits knows. For those who don’t, have more respect for the hideous sweater your grandmother gives you every year, I tell you what. A sweater is a serious investment, let alone something monstrous like a throw. When you have cats, knitting gets much more challenging, since they will contribute to the project, whether you like it or not.

Knitting seems to be the hip, trendy thing to do these days. I am far from a hip, trendy knitter. I don’t make skull sweaters, or artfully color-coordinated scarves. Most of my projects are actually kind of lopsided and malformed, due to my inability to follow directions with any degree of complexity. I think that it’s good, though, to test my patience and abilities with projects which I often wind up tearing up. The meditation and the benefit are in the act of knitting, not in making something which someone else might recognize as a garment. And I would like to point out that I was knitting before it was trendy. So there.

Every now and then, I come up with something which looks rather nice, and I usually give it away. A few times, I’ve been commissioned, so to speak, to work on projects for people, and I’ve had fun doing that. By no means do I fancy myself a real knitter, casually producing epic and amazing projects, although I do admire the serious knitters of my acquaintance. The process is the product, and I rather enjoy that. I like to take a break from my often manic and panicked personal existence to focus on the feeling of yarn in my hands, a developing pattern taking shape while Loki steals my skeins of yarn.

Some day, I might even finish that fern lace scarf I’ve been working on for two years.