Or, how personality gets
knitted into objects
Like many knitters, I love
to knit for others -- sometimes even more than
I do for myself. There's nothing like
giving a gift of time, tailored to the life
of someone you love.Knitting for someone else
is an extraordinary process -- I feel as if
my emotions for the recipient somehow flow into
the stitches themselves. I think about
them with every row. I think back on the memories
we have together, why I love them; I think of
the future memories we will make. I think of
the new adventures that this garment will see,
by their side or on their skin. I imagine this
item -- new to them and so familiar to me --
giving them warmth, comfort, and love.
like to think I infuse a special kind of love
in the finished knitted product. Sometimes,
though, as the item takes shape, it gives feelings
back to me instead. The project begins
to take on the personality of the recipient,
and our relationship, leaving me, when it's
done, with the same feelings towards the object
that I have towards the people themselves.
For example, about a year
ago I knit a scarf for someone I know.
This person always seems to envy others, never
seeing her own great worth in this world.
And wouldn't you know, the scarf brought out
the emotion in me. I wanted it for myself.
I wanted to make the same exact scarf for myself,
as I was making this one for her. I envied
it, even as I loved it as the perfect gift for
my friend. But of course in the end I
gave it to her, and she loved it. I felt
generous, the way this friend has always been
to me. I've never made another for myself, and
as time goes by I realize it wouldn't be right
for me, anyway. I matured into my knitting,
as she has matured into her life.
Recently I made a small blanket
for a friend of a friend. This person
is difficult, hard to get along with at times,
and complicated -- but when you get to know
her, she's warm and loving, and ever-generous.
Again, the blanket took on her attributes.
I was using double-strands of yarn and it tangled
at every turn, no matter what method I used
to unravel it. The pattern was repetitive, unforgiving;
the work was tedious. As with my new friend,
I took a deep breath and held on, believing
the end result would be worth it. And again
mirroring life, the finished product was surprisingly
soft, astoundingly lovable.
Years ago, I began a project
with a complicated intarsia pattern for a boyfriend,
in hopes that it would be a perfect gift --
full of my time and my devotion. But just
like our rocky relationship, the pattern would
not budge, and did not get easier, even as I
accustomed myself to its ebbs and flows.
I knew I had bitten off more than I could chew.
I tried everything. I put it down for a while,
I picked it up in quiet moments, I changed techniques,
I stayed determined. It was bittersweet
to realize that I was doing the same thing in
life, with him. The relationship was going
nowhere, and neither was my scarf. I wound
up binding it off, and we did not stay together.
There was nothing more that I could give.
There was no energy left, for what was ahead,
and I had to admit my -- and our -- limits.
not all this hard: one friend who just had a
baby received a blanket that, like my relationship
with her, was easy, intimate, and without any
hitches. Another friend, whom I admire
for her convictions and complexity, received
a baby blanket full of her own essence, a complicated
pattern that was at the same time fun to explore,
full of nuances and uncharted depths. I have
a great relationship with my mother, and everything
I've knit for her has also been easy, flowing,
literally "close-knit." The shawl my grandmother
wears -- my way to keep her warm now that I
live far away -- is full of my mistakes that
she does not see. She does not see those
mistakes, she says, because the shawl does what
it was made to do -- protect her from the cold,
and remind her of my love and closeness.
My husband's scarf, made in
a difficult boucle yarn that was new to me,
is filled with "rookie" mistakes, frayed yarn
that was pulled out and re-knit, fringe hanging
on by literally one thread. But he wears
it anyway, and proudly. He never goes
out in winter without it. He understands
that a relationship, too, is full of these things.
He knows that the key is to view these things
with appreciation for the sum of their parts.
we are thinking of having children soon.
What will my knitted projects for them be like?
What will I weave into them, and what will they
weave into me? If they go as they have
been, the projects will represent motherhood
in all its joys and pains. A lot of wincing
at my own mis-steps, a lot of wondering why
the yarn isn't behaving as I'd like, a lot of
deep breaths while pushing through the tough
parts. A lot of softness, a lot of challenges
overcome. A lot of patience, weaved into
every stitch. And most of all: a lot,
a lot, of hope. I'm looking forward to
this new journey, in this fabric and in my life.