Monday, January 23, 2012

About the Knit

Photo is 21st day of Sky Scarf. For those of you paying attention to that.

I've been giving a lot of thought to knitting and it's value and importance to me. I suppose it's like a lot of crafts that a person could pick up. Why didn't I crochet, or cross stitch, or (bohemian 'hippie' that I've been called) macrame? I do still have that 5 gallon bucket of beads to play with too.

I told you before that my mom was a crocheter. It has it's place, I do crochet at times. I prefer blankets that are meant for warmth to be crochet. I have serious hotpads in the kitchen ~ those are crochet. It could be that in my youth to choose my own path, to stray from my mom I deliberately opted for knitting as different from my mom's craft. I don't remember thinking that way about it. She had knitted once upon a time, there's a picture of my brother in an argyle pullover somewhere to prove it. There's an on-going discussion on Ravelry over the choice to knit or crochet.

Knitting creates a finer fabric. If you look closely at it, there are rows of UUUUUUUU to a knitted fabric. Crochet makes a denser fabric, close examination and person experience of the stitches show the thread looped around and pulled through to differentiate between each stitch, making the knitted U's more delicate by comparison. Really, knitting is only one stitch. First you learn the knit stitch. Then you learn to knit it backwards, which then becomes a purl, but if you turned your work around, you'd see the purling is really knitted from the other side. So you knit, frontways and backways, knit an purl. You can change the color, the order of the stitches, decrease a few, add a few, drop a few deliberately accidently on-purpose, thosands of stitches later you have... something.

I do remember thinking about how precise knitting is. When I was in high school, they were just starting to look at computer programming as a topic to teach. (Pay attention: this is the Star Trek: Next Generation portion of this post.) The first thing I looked at was binary code. Binary is computer language, a language of 1's and 0's. 0000111110000011111. How fun is that. But it's precise, like knitting is. If you were to look at knit and purls like 1's and 0's, they are very similar. It can be mind numbing, if you're not doing something interesting once in a while like a cable, or lacework, or changing a color.

So, after a time, the mind starts to move on while the hands are repeating the same motion again and again. My husband finds me often sitting at the computer, playing with my Nintendo DS, texting on the cell phone with double pointed needles and sock yarn in a whir of motion in my hands. He used to be amazed, now he just starts taking things away, saying I hog all the electronics (not really fair as I did leave him the remote and let him sleep) but he never takes the knitting.

But without the electronics, you can get obsessed with what your working on. Usually, I'm knitting for someone else. I don't usually keep anything I knit for myself. I believe it got to be that way because the project was TOO well known to me, I knew everything that was wrong with it and not enough about it was right to be as perfect as it was precise. Having been there through every last stitch, perhaps I was just fatigued with it by the time I cast off. When it's for someone else, every stitch becomes a wish: Wish the color is right, wish it fits them well, wish it keeps them warm, wish they became aware how beautiful they always were, wish they knew how much they were thought of with each stitch, for their happiness, their health, the joy of being thought of THAT much.

With that much thought, one can only set themselves up for disappointment in the recipient. The Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee wrote a post around Christmas time about the proper way to receive a handcrafted item, even if you don't know what it is. Here is the link if you missed it: it's quite funny and applies to any gift to be received, in my opinion but if you don't want your favorite knitter hero to risk their needles on your eyeballs, it might be a good idea to remember this post:

There are some tactless people who have only ever received one handcrafted gift and wonder why it never happened again, just as there are people who go through life behaving as if they were dropped on their heads as babies and never behave without stupidity.

However, I think I've given away enough of my projects not to really be too interested in what they think at the moment they received it. After all, couldn't it be that what they received is just an example of the depth to which we are loved, and when confronted with that without notice, who CAN wax elequently enough? For example: My Dear Lord God, when I think about how wonderfully I'm made and how much thought you must have given to creating me and those things that make my life enjoyable and me happy.... Well, I'm overwhelmed and beyond speechless and thankfulness cannot be adequately expressed. After all, this isn't a gold statue at an showy awards show, this is real. So is my knitting.

When I knit and I'm beyond the point for the Health, Fit and Loved parts of the brain, I roll around to the good I'm doing in the world. For awhile, I've caused no disturbance to humanity, I've not indulged in anything that dulls what is real, I've allowed time to pass and at the end of time I've made a pair of socks to keep toes warm that are deep down in the boots, hands warm enough to wiggle a text, warmth to the electrons of the brain functioning, a shawl to wrap around and know it was really a hug for the hard days, a cape to twirl about and make the last dance never end, my favorite dogs keep walking with their heads high and tail wagging.

I think what it gives me, especially in the dark days of winter ~ is mostly a crystal clear HOPE! I can focus on something good to come if I just keep working at it.

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