Yesterday I had a day that basically amounted to this:
I started the day with a project on the needles, and ended the day with nothing but a length of yarn and a cast-on row. You might think that this means that between starting with a project in progress and ending with a length of yarn, I just got to a point where I decided I didn’t like it or it needed fixing, and I ripped it out. The thing is, I did this not just once, but three times. And it’s all in the name of making it better (in this case for a design – the last time it was in the name of getting something that fits me), and I’ve gotten a lot of practice at it over time (ripping and re-knitting, that is), but still. After you’ve begun knitting the same length of yarn for the 4th time (or 5th, or 6th, for that matter) you do start to wonder if there is someone standing around with a hidden camera waiting to reveal the ploy to you.
But of course, there IS no ploy in moments like these, just your own knitterly conscience saying, “uh, you know, you might want to stop and take a better look at that. Maybe from the beginning.” And I’m here to break it to you that, just in case you were assuming that these moments become fewer as you get to be a more experienced knitter – you are completely and entirely wrong. Experienced knitters still have moments like these, in fact some days we have them twice before breakfast and another three over cocktails, all in the same day.
I joked on Twitter about this, that all I had to show for my day was a pile of ripped out yarn, and some other knitters chimed in and said, “you know, I’d take a class in that. Un-knitting. I’d be a braver knitter as a result!” And then I actually started wondering what a class like that would look like.
This is my class in un-knitting. You can take it from anywhere, bring your own materials. Ready? Here goes:
Step 1: Start with a quantity of yarn.
Step 2: Start knitting something. It doesn’t matter what it is, just that it’s a project that you selected with yarn you like. Knit away on it for a period of time.
Step 3: Develop a niggling feeling that Something Is Not Right. This is unfortunately not something that you can schedule or plan ahead for. But don’t worry, it’ll be along eventually, quite possibly at the least opportune moment. Pause. Listen to the niggling.
Step 3b (Optional): Develop a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, possibly also accompanied by feelings of a) stupidity, b) despair, c) denial, d) self-loathing, e) anger, f) bargaining. (Choose any of the above that apply.)
Step 4: Come to the conclusion that you would rather re-knit the thing that gave you the niggling feeling, than continue knitting while accompanied by the niggling feeling.
Step 5: Remove the knitting from the needles, and return the knitting to its original state (a length of yarn).
Repeat Steps 1-5 as frequently as desired. (More frequent repetition often unlocks Step 6: Locate alcohol and/or chocolate.)
On the one hand, this isn’t hard. Ask your nearest 4-year-old if pulling apart knitting is hard, and I’m betting the answer won’t be “yes.” On the other hand, it is actually very, VERY hard. Ask your nearest adult knitter who is casting on the same project for the 4th time if pulling apart knitting is hard, and I’m betting the answer won’t be “no.”
I think this is true about a lot aspects of our craft. Most things about knitting aren’t actually hard in a skill sense. Working the knit or purl stitch, pulling out a project to re-do it, executing many cable twists once you’ve learned how to do that 1st cable twist…These are all things that an objective knitter would not qualify as “hard.” It’s what happens when you combine all of these things and many more with the emotional and intellectual exercise of producing a garment that you care about, while still carrying on the normal requirements of your daily life, that makes knitting challenging. It’s also what makes it so worthwhile.
At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I cast on this same length of yarn for the 4th time. It sounds much more poetic that way.
May you have a worthwhile weekend of knitting, dear knitting friends. Catch you next week!