As we prepare for the 11th Annual Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop, I have been thinking deeply about the love we feel for the world of yarn and how much we want the non-knitting world to know that love. I would like to share with you the “Revelations of a Non-Knitter”, written by a dear friend of mine, Carolyn Swartz, from New York. I love anything she writes, but when she sent me this reflection about repairing the afghan I knit her for her wedding, it took my breath away.
This thing we do is bigger than sticks and string. I invite you to share your knitting stories with the non-knitters in your lives and hope that your yarn love will grow, nurture and encourage new knitters. God knows we need them.
Revelations of a Non-Knitter
I keep meaning to tell you about my non-knitter knitting experience yesterday and today.
Okay, so you know I know how to knit. Sort of. Fifteen years ago, I knitted a lavender cashmere hat with cables. And one year — maybe the same — I made scarves for everyone on my Christmas list. (Since I’m Jewish, that was about three people/three scarves.) But I’m NOT a knitter.
When I had people over for Polish Christmas, I took the beautiful blanket you made off the couch where it lives and put it at the foot of our bed. Safe, right?
The next day I went to put it back. Molly was lying on it and – I don’t even want to tell you what I saw. Strands pulled…a whole row or two completely pulled in one direction, out of whack. Long loops of beautiful alpaca sticking out.
First I freaked out. Then I thought, okay — you’ll fix it when you get here. Then I thought, no – I don’t want you spending hours on my couch with the blanket on your lap. I’ll fix it. But, I thought: it’s come apart. the loops have come unlooped. I have to get — I don’t know — a crochet hook… ye old rug hooker…something to pick up those loops and reattach them to the blanket, to get them more or less back where they belong.
Then I had this revelation. There were no chewed strands – no ends of yarn sticking out. Nothing had been broken. The piece was intact – just pulled. By re-pulling, easing the strands of yarn back to where they had been, I might be able to get the afghan back the way it was.
Well, that began a whole process of discovery for this non-knitter. Following the path of the stitches, the links, the mail, to pull these long loops through and back to where they’d been, ie. where you’d put them. It was then I began to tune into the magic of knitting: the linkage up, down and side to side created from only one strand of yarn. The idea that once a stitch was complete, the wholeness CAN’T BE UNDONE unless it’s actually severed. As in: a loop can’t just slide off. At times I felt like I was undoing a loop…but then I’d see that the connections were still there – All I’d done was move the strand of yarn up and over and under, to the side or, following its path, up or down. I became bolstered by confidence that I couldn’t mess it up or undo what had been in place, so I followed the strands — surprised at the intricacy — how they so often didn’t continue where my eye told me they did, all the while thinking how amazing it is that from one single strand, from one stitch at a time, you get this kind of total linkage – side to side, up, down, all around. And how malleable, how forgiving, how willing this blanket was to resume its former configuration as the big gaping holes got smaller to release the constriction of the ones that had gotten too tight.
After several hours, I won’t say I defy you to identify where this happened. I still have a little work to do. But minus a square inch or two that still need a little work, it’s really close to the way it was.
The other side of this was that by following stitches that I knew were yours, I felt I was kind of reverse engineering your process, knitting (sort of) with my fingers instead of needles. Really, I’ll never be a knitter. But following those threads gave me a sense of wonder and admiration for both the process and the result. Hose run. Cloth rips. Dishes break. But as long as the strands of yarn remain intact and unbroken, knitting is just about indestructible.
If I don’t get it 100% back, I’ll leave the last 2% for your expert eyes and hands. And no more unsupervised afghan on the bed.
To view more of Carolyn’s work, click here.