I distinctly remember my home economics class in standard 5 / 7th grade / Year 7 in 1996, we were tasked with knitting our own scarves. I chose green and grey wool – though looking back now, I can’t be certain if that was preference or need – and proceeded to knit the loosest, most amateur scarf possible. I never finished knitting that scarf and I can’t even tell you what happened to the start of it, all I can say is that I have spent the rest of my life ‘trying’ to finish knitting a scarf.
Since my funemployment began, I’ve not stopped looking for ways to continue or complete the things I have never tried or been able to do. I have always wanted to paint and you may have noticed a few artworks on my social feeds, those are my attempts thus far. I also wanted to be able to say that I did complete knitting a scarf and so in December, I went out to my nearest supplier, bought a set of 4mm needles and some multi coloured wool and decided I would be knitting Dakota a scarf in the hopes that she would be able to wear it by the time she went back to school in Jan 2018.
Knitting is an interesting albeit pensive past time. It is easy to ‘catch on’ to the technique once you get going and then becomes a way to keep your hands busy while watching television, having a conversation or being alone with your thoughts. I did have to watch a YouTube video to remind myself how to cast on and cast off but the knit stitch came back to me like riding a bicycle. Every night I got my knitting bag out, sat on the sofa and spent a good 45 minutes to an hour creating row after row of the scarf that I wasn’t sure I would finish.
At first, I was extremely slow and it took me a long time to find a comfortable way to hold my wool or place my stitches. I got frustrated when I missed a stitch and didn’t know how to fix it so I would pull it all out and begin again. I missed many hours of TV as I concentrated more on the knitting in my hands than what was on the box and slowly but surely I got better, I got faster, I got more adept at making this little creation that I have not been able to complete for years.
Being left alone with deep thought prompts interesting one-woman conversations and brings forth concepts that perhaps have no relevancy or basis but yet they are interesting enough to conceive anyway. One of which was the thought of life being like a hand knit scarf and how I could compare my own existence to the amateur and imperfect accessory between my fingers.
A labour of love
The scarf I was knitting was loose in some areas and tighter in others despite my intention of having the scarf as evenly knit as possible. This is not dissimilar to life, though we try and keep things as uniform as possible, it is easy to loosen or tighten our stitches without us even knowing it. It is easy to become so used to having a routine that things become comfortable and monotonous, that day in and day out we become robotic, life continues as if we are on auto pilot and the wool continues to loosen as we go along. Then one day you catch yourself in a loose stitch and make every effort to tighten up, you keep watch of each stitch and do your best to not let your scarf (life) get loose again but naturally the stitches loosen and we move toward a more auto pilot existence.
The reality is that unless created by machine, no scarf will ever be perfectly uniform and no life will ever be perfect. Knitting or living is a constant ebb and flow of loose and tight stitches and sometimes, needs must. Monotony is not necessarily a bad thing, all good things take time and sometimes a monotonous routine will pave the way and form the foundation for a beautifully crafted life.
No matter how good at knitting you are, even the most expert crafter can drop a stitch or two. Sometimes you notice you have dropped the stitch and perhaps you may even know how to fix it, sometimes you don’t notice the dropped stitch / gaping hole until much later on when it is too late to unravel. In life, our dropped stitches are our mistakes and sometimes we notice that we make them, sometimes we can come back from them. Other times, the mistakes we make leave a lasting impression on our entire lives and though irreparable, you can choose to focus on the rest of the expertly knit stitches instead of the one you dropped – the choice is yours.
Practice makes perfect and no hand knit scarf will look like another, it may (like mine) be full of flaws and imperfections and yet the dropped stitches and rough edges give my life (and scarf) character. The art of knitting takes a lot of practice and even then, your scarf will never be perfect. It is important to remember that much like the imperfect scarf, life will continue to challenge the concept of perfection.
Knitting this scarf for Dakota was a true labour of love and I craved the look on her face when she was able to wear a creation her mama had made for her. That, together with my unnerving need to complete knitting a scarf at least once in my life, led me to finish knitting the imperfectly perfect garment. For the first time in a long time, I was so proud of myself for following through and completing something instead of starting and giving up midway. I put my mind and fingers toward accomplishing a goal and I more than achieved it as well – On the first day of term in January 2018, Dakota was able to not only wear the scarf that I knitted for her but also the headband I crafted to match. Sure, she lost the headband on the very same day but the thought was there!
I have since started knitting my second scarf, this time for Hayley and in an ivory-coloured wool that she chose. I have also tried my hand at the purl stitch and with a combination of 2 knit and then 2 purl rows I have a pretty pattern as well.
Like Dakota’s scarf, Hayley’s is already imperfectly perfect and I couldn’t be more excited to get it finished.
Have you been knitting anything or pondering the secrets of life? I would love to hear about it.