Every once in a while I will get into knitting again.


It relaxes me. It makes me feel less guilty about sitting in front of the television. It forces me to focus on something trivial and immediate – something I hold in my hands – in a way ┬áthat is meditative.

I’m not very good. There are holes and unevenness.

I warned my sister that there are flaws in almost every row of the scarf I just made her.

She says that that’s just evidence that it was hand-made.

I texted Kim’s friend Lori and she reminded me that Kim loved to knit.

She did.

She hated to purl – I don’t know that she ever did purl. She just knit.

I don’t think she ever deliberately increased or decreased.

She just knit – she loved to knit. And she knit scarves.

Well she knit things that could be done in rectangles. I think she did a few ponchos because they could be done as rectangular segments that were later attached.

She made scarves for many of her friends and cousins. Lori told me that Kim made her an eyelash scarf that Lori wore all winter.

She once bought a kit for making a baby hat but couldn’t get her head around how it worked.

That was enough to goad me into learning to knit so I could make the hat. I made hats for babies for years – although the last one I made was severely over-sized and won’t fit the baby until they graduate from high school.

For the most part my projects came out well.

I made Kim and each of the girls socks. I loved knitting scarfs because it looks so difficult to use four needles to knit them – really it’s not so hard – it’s just a lot of stitches.

I think I told you that I made each of the girls purses in complementary colors which they felted themselves.

My current project is knitting lace.

I was on a trip in England and saw a book on Shetland Lace and bought it on a whim. I sent a message to my friend Danese who always answers my knitting questions (I think she pointed me at the felted purse project) and asked her to recommend a knit shop in London. By the time I got her reply I was already inside the one she recommended: Loops.

The people were so nice and welcoming and helped me as a prodigal knitter who couldn’t remember much of anything. I bought a second book on knitting lace – this one on geometric lace patterns because it had an instruction that I just couldn’t get my head around.

I wanted to tell Kim.

I started knitting lace swatches but made a mistake with the yarn and got it tangled beyond all recognition or repair.

The next week I was in Philadelphia so I thought I’d get some more yarn.

I told the woman who ran the shop what I was working on and she just wasn’t nice at all.

She clearly looked down her nose at mail knitters. She asked if I was good at computer programming because my approach to knitting seemed, to her, all wrong. She wasn’t going to help me understand what was right – she was just going to talk faster and faster and make me feel unwelcome.

It’s kind of how senior male engineers treat female engineers – except that in the workplace it’s serious and matters. If we lose a male knitter here or there it’s not a tragedy. We can’t afford to lose these good female developers.

But I digress.

I started knitting and made plenty of mistakes but made enough progress that I kept going. It’s like anything else, you learn with repetition. I should have thrown out those parts where I was learning. As it turned out, it looks as though I was learning throughout the project.

I made a lace scarf where the edges had a design and the edges themselves zigzagged in and out. The center was a lace pattern that the book called cat’s paw. There was a border of two parallel lines of holes between the edging on each side and the center.

Well the lines were supposed to be parallel – unfortunately you can see where they move to the left or right by a stitch when I ┬ámake a mistake.

My sister says it looks better that way.

She’s not right but she’s very nice.

In a way she’s right. No one will look at that scarf and think that it’s machine made.

The book said I had to dress the scarf when I was done – or block it. That sounded unnecessary to me. I’d never dressed anything before – why now.

So Danese sent me a before and after picture of why I should and instructions on how to do it. She gave me some URL’s to where to buy the kits you need to pin the dampened piece into place but Kim liked us to buy local so I drove over to Susan’s Yarns.

I love Susan’s Yarns.

I don’t know if there was ever a Susan – but the person who owns it is named John. He’s usually knitting something himself and giving out advice and finding just the thing you need. That day, his wife was there as well. I’d never met her before.

“That’s ok,” I said, “I’ll wait til John’s free.”

Sometimes you need a mentor who’s somewhat like you.

I showed John the note from Danese and he told me that of course you need to dress lace. He showed me some pieces he’d made. He looked up a kit and found one that we could split and it would be much cheaper than what I could get online and it would have everything I need.

“Now that I’ve made a scarf,” I said, “what should I make next?”

“A shawl,” he said, “definitely a shawl.”

So when I returned to pick up the blocking kit I showed him a pattern I found on Ravelry and he said it would knit up nicely and suggested a yarn to use.

The pattern was similar to the one I just couldn’t get my head around. It’s a triangle but you start with a tiny rectangle and basically add on to three sides of the rectangle on each row and it turns into a large triangle.

I still didn’t get it.

John took some waste yarn and showed me.

I’m about 10% done with this one and really enjoying watching it take shape.

You can see patterns shift right and left where I’ve counted something wrong.

I’ve ripped it out many times but I think, for now, I’m going to keep going.

If it’s perfect, how will you know that I made it?

Published in: on May 31, 2017 at 5:06 pm  Comments (1)