As though it were a Chinook, the knitting mood I was in at the beginning of the week has passed. On Monday I couldn’t get enough new projects and started about eighteen things by the time it ran its course… and now the urge has faded, and with it, the rationale for why I started all those projects.
At the time, the green sweater I began seemed like the only thing that would scratch the itch, and just this morning I looked at it and tried to figure out what the hurry was. That vest? Was I really going to knit that? Out of that yarn? Really? Knowing full well that the only person in the family who needs a hat is me… what’s up with that pile of circular needles – each with two rounds of a hat for everyone but me on them? What – I think, as I survey the stacks of projects that startitis got off the ground… what was I thinking?
It’s always been compelling to me that knitting is so many things. I know it looks simple, but it’s just not, and the motivation for doing it at all can be just as diverse. Ever have that thing where someone asks you if knitting is relaxing.. and you’re about to say yes… because you’re thinking of how relaxing it is, when suddenly you remember that episode with the bobbles that wouldn’t stay on the right side of your work and how you ended up actually crying fierce, hot tears of frustration? Crying about bobbles? That wasn’t very relaxing, was it? How about gauge? You find that relaxing? How about that time that you spent all that money on that yarn and then couldn’t work the stitch pattern for the sweater you were working on because there was an error in the pattern. That was absolutely MEDITATIVE, wasn’t it?
When people say stuff to me about knitting, characterizing it as… whatever they think it is (calming, hard, relaxing, stupid, tricky) I just say yes.
"My goodness, you must have the patience of a Saint- that’s so precise!"
I say yes.
"That looks really complicated, it must be hard."
I say yes.
"Oh- aren’t you lucky. Being a knitter must be so relaxing."
Truth is that it’s all of those things. When you’re getting shafted by brioche stitch, knitting is as frustrating as trying to train cats to work calculators. Trying to interpret an intricate bit of lace – it becomes fiddly and challenging. Starting six new things is nothing short of exciting, accomplishing a neat bit is absolutely encouraging…casting off a sweater generates something else. (That’s a tricky one. It could be pride and fulfillment …or soul crushing disappointment. No way to know in advance.) I can agree with all of them because knitting is all of them, at one time or another – and that knitting can be many things and serves many deeply personal motives, is really too much complexity to help your average non-knitter come to understand in a few minutes as they admire your sock in an elevator.
I suppose then, that it might be too much complexity for me to entirely understand too, as much as I think I do.. because here I sit, surrounded by a mountain of things that it was vital I knit on Monday…
…and it is snowing outside, the CBC is on the radio, my kettle is about to sing, and for the life of me, I can’t tell you what I thought I needed with any of that knitting, other than a nice, plain sock.
Knitting, you are a deep and fickle mistress.