Monday, December 31, 2007
Knitting on New Years
A very dear friend of mine just came to town for a quick visit. We share a love of funky earrings, art projects, gourmet grocery stores and aversion to math. She is a fearless and avid knitter, and I aspire to be like her. You might wonder how a person can be a fearless knitter. She fearlessly attacks ambitious projects with expensive materials, invests large amounts of time, becomes emotionally attached, is not afraid to ask for help when she needs it, and then is able to admit mistakes, and completely unravel the project and start again if necessary. She completely immerses herself in the process and doesn’t worry so much about the results. I have a lot to learn, and luckily she is an excellent teacher.
My friend was helping me to accept the fact that a project, a whole sweater, I had worked on for quite some time needed to be un-knit. Yes, completely unraveled. No way to save it. In fact, she told me this sweater might fit Hagrid but certainly not anyone in my family. I mourned the loss for a while and she counseled me about getting “back on the horse” and working on a project I could be more successful at. Like a small washcloth.
Watching all this drama, my seven year old hung around fondling all the yarn. He has always been tactile and loves really soft fabric. Soon he asked, “Can I try?” My friend didn’t even blink, saying “Sure!” and sitting right down with him. She is a teacher and has taught lots of kids to knit, and she is not his mother, so she was patient and encouraging and soon had him happily knitting away. On my washcloth.
I’m sure she doesn’t realize how she got the ball rolling. Now all three boys want to knit. So they all put on their Heelys (shoes with wheels on them) and we headed to the craft store. We went to the craft store because I couldn’t take them to the beautiful yarn store, with infinite and very expensive choices. Too overwhelming for them and me. And probably for the nice ladies that work there too.
At the door to the craft store, I threaten the boys not to roll around on their shoes or they will loose them for a day. We go in search of the yarn isle. It takes about 15 minutes of fondling and caressing and discussing to pick out yarn. They automatically, magnetically, irresistibly head for the most expensive yarn the store stocks. My friend told me it’s important for the yarn to feel good, so we negotiate and settle on some choices. Then we pick out the needles, a different color and size for each boy. We get a few looks and smiles from other customers but the boys see nothing humorous or odd about getting knitting supplies; they are excited.
Once home, we roll the yarn into balls, which makes it easier to pull from as you knit. Then we got started. I sat with each boy and gave him about a three minute lesson. The lesson was really basic since I am a beginning knitter also. They started knitting away. I marveled at the sight for a moment and then spent the next three hours fielding questions, checking work, fixing dropped stitches, helping to unravel mistakes, and generally being the constant on-call knitting doctor. I couldn’t get a thing done. This was a problem as it’s New Year’s eve and we had nothing planned for dinner and no restaurants nearby were open. My husband surveyed the scene when he arrived home from work, perplexed and amused. He learned to knit as a boy also. Assessing the situation, he started cooking the only thing he knows how to cook: macaroni and cheese. Yes, we had macaroni and cheese, and tomato soup, for New Year’s eve dinner. And it was a quick dinner because everyone wanted to get back to knitting.
My youngest wondered aloud, who invented knitting? I looked in my knitting book and read to them that no one really knows who invented it, but that traditionally women produced the yarn, while men did the knitting. This did not seem odd to them, of course men did the knitting. Because it is really fun and cool.
This is perhaps one of the most bizarre New Year’s eves I have ever experienced. No entertaining, no champagne, no count-down, no resolutions, no elaborate goodbye to the year ending and a new one beginning.
Instead, one year is woven, knotted, knitted into another, a single strand of experience transformed into a more complex and amazing form.