The knitting gods are laughing.
Many people—too many people—over the course of time, have decided to perpetuate the notion that knitting is relaxing, soothing, a restful way to pass the time. I have to admit that I have been one of those people. And it is true that when one’s nerves are raw from sitting in one too many doctors’ offices, it is comforting to have something to occupy one’s hands and mind. Order can be restored to a chaotic world through the gratifying binary surety of knit and purl.
That is, until you make a mistake. Okay, one mistake is not so bad. Everyone makes mistakes; you just go back and fix it. So what if it means ripping out three rows? It’s not a big deal.
Until you make another mistake. Two mistakes is not a lot, but it’s a little frustrating that you weren’t paying better attention to what you were doing so that you could have seen you’re misstep right when you made it.
The third mistake is where it starts to get ugly. The yarn is starting to fuzz from having been ripped out so many times, but really, it’s okay, you are learning and really, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Sure, and after ten years, I’ve made enough mistakes to be a master knitter by now—though I’m not.
I started making a hat last Thursday. It was going to be a quick, fun project before I went back and tackled the Fair Isle vest I’ve been avoiding since August. This is the vest that I nearly finished at least twice before having to dismantle almost all of it and start again. The one that needs me only to knit the neck and shoulders, but whose completion involves picking up stitches evenly which can be a whole other nightmare I won’t even get into. The one that will probably be too small for me when I actually get up the gumption to finish it.
So I started the hat—a lovely, tweed, cabled tam from the same wool with which I had just successfully completed a beautiful shawl in just over a week and a half. This should be no sweat, I thought. But the knitting gods are capricious and really, I think, just a bit cruel. This past weekend I worked and reworked the hat as I watched the final games of my beloved Mets heartbreaking 2009 season. Maybe it was because I had become a little cocky. Maybe St. Augustine is in among the knitting deities and has insisted that I be purified of my ignoble sin of pride, but that hat that should have taken only a few hours to make is still yet to be finished. I made a grand push Sunday night. By the end of the Jets/Saints game, I had begun to decrease (knitter speak for “I see a light at the end of the tunnel!”), and I thought, I’ll just stay up until I’m done. Three national parks later (Ken Burns The National Parks: America’s Best Idea on PBS), I realized that I had made yet another error. I put it down, resigned. This is something I have learned during my knitting tenure. After a certain number of missteps, it’s best just to let it rest awhile.
And so it sits on my ottoman in the living room, waiting. I will finish it, probably this week. I don’t know what it’ll end up looking like, but another thing I’ve learned is that if you want to create something beautiful, you have to be willing to crash and burn—a lot. I’ll finish the hat. And I’ll make peace with the knitting pantheon, because I know in my heart of hearts that they are only trying to do me a favor. They know what I need to be doing right now (write now!) and knitting is not it.