Every year on the bike rally, I take knitting- and I don’t just mean that I pack knitting along for the evening or when I’m off my bike, I mean I pack knitting.
Never, ever at a break or pause in the cycling have I reached down into that little case and pulled out a sock so I can do a couple lines and take the edge off, but there’s something about being able to look down and see it that reminds me that I’m still me, and makes me feel more comfortable with the riding. (Also, I’m pretty sure that one day I’ll need something to knit while I wait for the ambulance to come, or once I’m waiting for my x-rays.) I put my little bit of knitting onto the bike every morning, and I took it off every night, and then I would have a bit of a knit after we got the tents up and the bikes sorted and before dinner and after/during whatever team things we had to do. It wasn’t a lot of knitting time, really – but even though I knew I wasn’t going to get a lot done, I wanted to be knitting on the right thing.
Knitting is like that for me. It’s hard to explain what I mean, it’s like knitting isn’t just knitting. It matters when and where and what I knit – like the knitting soaks up a bit of the places and people and things that were present while I was knitting it. Years later I can look at a pair of socks or a scarf and say “Ah, yes. The summer of 2014, I knit on that sock in Montreal when I was with Jen and Ken.”
Once I realized that everything that I knit came to have this association for me, I started to be thoughtful about what I knit when. I came to believe that there was resonance – that I could use yarn that was special because of some reason, and knit it in a place or time that was related to that yarn (at least in my head, if not in reality) and make things extra special and meaningful. Like… taking yarn a friend dyed on a trip somewhere that I wish they were with me, or knitting something for someone during a time that they had trouble, to try and be with them figuratively, if not literally. You know what I mean (or maybe you don’t, and I’ve just revealed the entire depth and breadth of my crazy, and now you’re just sitting there shaking your head and cut and pasting this entry into an email with the heading “I told you she took knitting way too seriously.”
Knitting isn’t always like that – it’s not like I sit around trying to figure out what yarn would be the most spiritually significant thing I could take to IKEA, but when something seems like it might be important? Yeah. I think it over. This year when the rally came around, it was so easy to figure out what to knit, and what to knit it out of.
I made socks – and I know they look like plain socks, but let me tell you what they really are. They’re freakin’ symbols of the way people can be awesome. That yarn is Indigodragonfly Cariboubaa, and it’s in a colour they dreamed up, called “Beige.” Kim and Ron (They’re Indigodragonfly) invented the colourway not too long ago, and sent a skein to both me and Jen- because they’d decided to support the Rally and the people who need it by donating a portion of the sales of every skein in that colourway. They didn’t even advertise it – just quietly made a commitment. Then, as if that wasn’t enough (and it really, really was) they sponsored our team tee-shirts.
Knitters, you haven’t lived until you explain to the non-knitting portion of the bike rally (pro-tip: that’s most of it) that you’re sponsored by a yarn company. This look comes over them for a minute like it had never occurred to them that it was even remotely possible that yarn people existed in that sort of very real way. They all said “Yarn?” and then stared at the logo on the shirt, because Hell yes, our team was the first bike rally team to be sponsored by a yarn company, and you betcha their logo was on our shirts. I just loved it.
Once all of that happened, it was easy to decide what yarn to take. What else? Kim and Ron did so much for the rally, and for so little glory, and they’re such very, very good people, and they quietly make such a lovely difference in the world and I wanted that with me the whole way. It’s like that yarn was what the rally was all about. You know what I mean? I knit that yarn and wore that shirt and looked at all the non-knitters wearing the shirt and I was just so freakin’ proud of our community, and the way knitters change things for non-knitters, whether they know it or not… and by the way, Kim and Ron? If you read this? Jen and I have shirts for you. You’re officially on the team. I’ll pop them in the mail.
Once I had the yarn chosen, the rest was easy. Socks, because they’re so portable and I wouldn’t need to keep track of a pattern, and I would make them for Jen.
She was the most amazing co-lead I could have gotten. Let me tell you this: If you need something run, and you need it run well, with a minimum of drama, a maximum of efficiency and a large magnitude of fun… Call Jen. Actually, I think you can call most parents 40 and older, but I called Jen – and it was brilliant. One night in the tent – it was after the rather crippling ride in the rain (the one where we didn’t take the bus) Jen got up at 3am for a brief crawl and whimper to the facilities. When she got back, we tried to get back to sleep, and I sighed, or maybe it was a moan, my legs were killing me. “What?” Jen said. “I’m just trying to figure out what this feeling in my legs is.” I replied.
Jen thought about it for a minute, and I think I heard her rubbing her own sore legs. Finally, she answered. “Is it regret?” she asked? “Is it the actual physical manifestation of REGRET?”
We dissolved then into helpless smothered laughter, trying not to wake anyone in the nearby tents, and that’s what it’s like with Jen. I’m lying there trying to figure out whether the pain in my legs is the feeling of damaged muscle, growing muscle, or the absence of enough muscle, and Jen’s nailed it. She was like that every time, and she’s a big part of how something so hard ended up so awesome.
So she gets socks. Socks inspired by Kim and Ron, and good people, and hard work, and the days that we spent on the rally. It’s all in there.
I know they look like regular socks, but they’re really not.