“You should take up knitting; it’s so relaxing”.
Those were the words of a former friend, whom I once mistakenly assumed had my best interests at heart. Now I rack my brain trying to understand what I could have done to her to cause her determination to turn my life into nerve pressuring misery. Knitting: Relaxing? Therapeutic? Really?
Trying to be open and fair minded, I consider the possibility that she has a good idea. As I look around wherever I go, I see women in lectures, on trains, and in recitals peacefully knitting. They appear to be relaxed as they demonstrate the art of multitasking. How hard can a little knitting be? I wonder.
You’ve always liked challenges, I tell myself, and I decide to try knitting. I’ll start with something small. Yes, I can do this! As I think about it I get enthusiastic about learning a new skill. This is going to be great fun. My friend and I head straight to a new knitting shop in Mendham. I immediately understand how addicting this hobby can become. The shop is charming; a converted room in back of an old house. It has original wide wood plank floors and ancient hand hewn wood beams. Displayed around the small rustic shop are beautifully handmade sweaters, vests, scarves and adorable, cuddly baby outfits.
My enthusiasm increases as I imagine myself presenting my own hand made sweaters to my children, in law children and grandchildren. Depending on how quickly I can turn out each sweater maybe I can make a few for my friends too. I could have them finished in time for the holidays. What would be more thoughtful than a hand knit sweater with unusual hand crafted buttons, hand sewn button holes and pockets trimmed with beautiful special trim displayed around the shop?
Children’s sweaters will be my first project, I reason. They’re small enough to finish in a couple of days and then I can move up to adult sizes. It pleases me to think how excited everyone will be when they see their gifts this year.
Soon the stack of materials I need is very large. I need a knitting bag, skeins of wool of all sorts of wonderful colors, several sizes of knitting needles, buttons, trim and some knitting magazines. The ones with all those cute pictures. I feel adept and practically professional as I gather all my equipment and materials. So far, considering only the children’s sweaters my bill comes close to $1000.00. But this hobby is going to relax me. And the children will be so excited. It’ll be worth it.
The first step in starting to knit is to kick off, jump off, or push off. I’d better check the vernacular before talking about this hobby to anyone conversant in knit lingo.
I’ve only begun my first baby sweater when I notice that the stitches are hard to move. A knitting needle can fit under each wool stitch on the needle holding the yarn but after a couple of stitches I can no longer move anything. The wool is so tight that I have to battle the stitch to get it off one needle and onto the next. I take it back to the knitting teacher. “You have to relax when you knit, or you pull the stitches too tight.” She pulls out my completed rows and starts over again, demonstrating her relaxed, easy rhythmic knitting style. “I can do this,” I assure myself, and take my supplies and new found confidence back home. The first few rows look good. The rows I’ve completed are loose and easy, loose and easy, and “What?” There are now holes between the stitches. The stitches are too loose, too easy, and resemble holes the size of the chipmunk tunnels in our garden. “OK, Not a problem; I’ll rip out these few rows and start again.” I turn on some soothing music and begin to knit a baby sweater. The smaller the baby the better
I am relaxed, I am productive, I am creative. The rows are the right tautness this time, and I am making good progress. I hold the project up to show my husband that evening, and notice an odd expression on his face. “Oh, um, very nice,” he stammers, and looks for a newspaper, book, or anything else to hide behind. I look at the baby sweater and am shocked to see that the sweater has taken on the shape of an alien being. What kind of creature could fit into this garment? A cross between Jack Spratt and Humpty Dumpty?
The knitting teacher kindly welcomes me back to her shop and explains something about decreasing numbers of stitches in rows to shape the garment. “We can just rip up to here,” she explains, “and start decreasing stitches there.”
This will be the third time I’ve had to rip out the stitches I knitted. There is nothing relaxing, productive or creative about knitting. It should be called the scorch and burn hobby: knit, knit, rip, rip rip. Two steps forward, seventeen steps back.
In the interest of maintaining my sanity and sunny disposition I return everything remotely returnable to the knitting store, leaving me with only $649.37 worth of knitting equipment that I will use to remember the experience. Then I zoom over to the mall before it’s too late and with love in my heart, buy presents for everyone on my list.
They will be so delighted when they see their gifts this year!