I frequently welcome browsers into the shop who warn me that they “don’t do this sort of thing,” meaning that they don’t know how to knit or crochet, but they appreciate the results of these crafts and would be willing (but I won’t hold my breath) to buy sweaters and accessories if someone else would make them. I suspect that the cost of covering both materials and the time necessary to complete a garment would render such sentiments null and void—why spend that much when you can buy a factory-made sweater for so much less?
Why indeed? I find myself having to provide an answer to the question of why I would go through the trouble of investing so much money in yarn and needles, not to mention time in knitting, to create my own clothing and accessories, especially at the risk of something not fitting?
My response, on this Valentine’s Day, is an ode (of sorts) to knitting, my first love among the needle arts.
It was not love at first sight, I’m afraid. You constantly befuddled and confused me by your inconsistencies—that row had 12 stitches, this row has 14, with no explanation for the sudden change. There were giant holes and gaps, both in my knowledge of you and in your self- revelation, such that I felt compelled to set you aside, leave you for years on end.
At a different time in my life, you beckoned me to give “us” another try and convinced me there was more yet to discover, if only I wouldn’t settle for garter stitch. Seed stitch, you whispered, and maybe some ribbing. I promise, I won’t let you down.
And you didn’t! You kept revealing to me more of your secrets: decreases, increases, shoulder and heel shaping, cables, bobbles, lace and gussets. More! I cried. I must know more!
You taught me the thrill of creating. With great forethought you let me fumble through my failures so that I could learn how to make sense of knitted fabrics and garment construction. Consequently I grew in confidence that no matter how intricate the pattern, challenging the skill, or heinous the mistake, we could get through it—together.
You showed me that knitting can be calming—the rhythmic nature of working each stitch in succession is both meditative and cathartic, allowing me to burn off any remaining mental and physical energy from the day. The feel of beautiful yarn running through my fingers provides a tactile comfort similar to a warm beverage on a cold day or a gentle massage to sore muscles.
The benefits of knowing you are both tangible and intangible. A well-executed pattern (or experiment) results in an item I can wear, give as a gift, use in my home or employ to teach and inspire others. The more I knit, the better I become at substituting yarns and adjusting garment patterns to conform to my unique shape, therefore making them “me” in a way that no store-bought item ever could be. This makes me want to knit all the more.
Knitting, you have helped me gain so many intangible benefits. Not only do you help me feel more relaxed, but even when something goes completely haywire, I gain knowledge (“Ah, that’s why gauge is so important”), wisdom (“Starting a project after 10 p.m. is a recipe for disaster”), and grow in the virtues of patience and fortitude. New challenges in knitting stimulate my brain and increase my appreciation for your versatility, creative possibilities, and stunning beauty. With each new project, my love for you grows.
Ah, knitting, I am completely beguiled by you. Will you be mine?