Stitch by Stitch

When my younger daughter was two, my friend Jessica taught me to knit, which revolutionized my world. A life with little ones underfoot is improved by creativity which may be picked up or put down at any time. Unlike time (say, 2016), yarn can easily be unraveled, and the work improved.

Since my first knit, purl stitches, I’ve knit in numerous houses and meetings, across country on a train, in the ER, the endodontist’s office, at concerts, under trees, in the sugarhouse, in my bed.

With innumerable strangers, I’ve handed my knitting and their knitting back and forth, admiring and discussing. In despair, occasionally, I’ve thrown out knitting gone badly awry. My best knitting was a pair of mittens I knit my daughter for her 15th birthday, blue and white, compass pattern. Now I’m on a pattern a little too difficult, with yarn overs that are trouble to drop, with a pattern I am, stitch by stitch, accomplishing; it’s beautiful.

When my girls and I were talking about wishes for the new year, I thought work hard, but perhaps what I really meant was love well.

The products of science and technology may be new, and some of them are quite horrid, but knitting? In knitting there are ancient possibilities; the earth is enriched with the dust of the millions of knitters who have held wool and needles since the beginning of sheep. Seamless sweaters and one-row buttonholes; knitted hems and phoney seams – it is unthinkable that these have, in mankind’s history, remained undiscovered and unknitted. One likes to believe that there is memory in the fingers; memory undeveloped, but still alive.

Elizabeth Zimmerman (who else?), The Knitter’s Almanac



Where You Find Yourself

The first job I ever had, when I was fifteen, was a library page in the village library where I read darn near every book in the children’s section. I was so desperate to read, I even read the sic-fi and books about dinosaurs, neither of which were my favorites. One day, I discovered the classics were hidden in a back room off the children’s section. Dickens! Tolstoy! Steinbeck!

This fall, I became the librarian at Woodbury’s even tinier library. While I had to be talked into this position, I should have taken it right away; the library is one of my natural places. Likewise, a welder I sometimes use has a group of guys in his shop, hanging out in lawn chairs, with a hot wood stove crackling in the winter. That’s the place for those guys.

I see love of places in both my children, too. My teenager runs every day along our dirt road, breathing deeply of the woods. The younger girl has a place in her circle of friends where she’s at home. Which brings me to the present I’m knitting for someone’s Christmas gift. Knitting (and creativity) is a portable place, a true winter activity.

Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.

– Elizabeth Zimmermann