Revision in Yarn

I learned to knit from my daughter when she was an 8-year-0ld Waldorf student, and I really wanted to knit. Then a friend taught me more, and I read books, stopped in at the local yarn store for free advice, and turned hand-knit sweaters and hats inside out to discover the wherefores of how they were put together.

The pattern of this most recent sweater is a skeleton – a skeleton minus a few bones. When I arrived at joining the sleeves, the pattern was curiously empty. By experience and guesswork, I’ve put this sweater together in a semi-decent fashion. But I did take apart that first sleeve a half dozen times.

Unlike life, that’s the beauty of knitting: take it apart, again, again, and again. I suppose that’s not entirely true. All those revisions made this creation; I intend to wear it happily, with only myself in the true knowing.

One has to be just a little crazy to write a great novel. One must be capable of allowing the darkest, most ancient and shrewd parts of one’s being to take over the work from time to time. Or be capable of cracking the door now and then to the deep craziness of life itself—as when in Anna Karenina, Levin proposes to Kitty in the same weird way Tolstoy himself proposed to his wife. Strangeness is the one quality in fiction that cannot be faked.

John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist


West Woodbury,  Vermont, Wednesday

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