8.29.2006

Knitting Renaissance

Once upon a time, I learned how to knit. I received a 15-minute lesson on the knit stitch, and was commanded to go forth and make scarves. I quickly tracked down knitting manuals and pretty yarn, and proceeded to make eleven scarves in five months, plus a few hats. I got so far as a gorgeous lace pattern, and visions of baby ponchos and knitted wombats danced in my head.

And then I was the victim of a stealth attack. I never would have expected that a project so wholesome could wreak such havok, but yes: I was done in by none other than a prayer shawl.

It was supposed to be a gift for Lara's birthday... in March of 2005. And things just started going all wrong. The yarn color was lovely, but I realized all too late that acrylic boucle is the spawn of, if not Satan, a JoAnn's buyer with a very poor grasp on how yarn moves on needles. It was slow and scratchy on my bamboo circulars, making every (prayerful?) stitch an exercise in patience. Which may be spiritually resonant, but is not conducive to quality crafting. I guiltily set the project aside, intending to finish it by graduation (and later Christmas, and after that birthday 2006). In the meantime, I half-heartedly started a handful of other projects, most of which lingered in UFO purgatory. (That would be UnFinished Objects for the uninitiated.) It would seem that I cannot knit in good conscience with an unfinished prayer shawl in my closet. Hence began the season of ripping out anything and everything. I would have started unravelling the sweaters in my closet without the proper intervention. The original length of prayer shawl - gone. The gradiated silk that looked prettier as a hank than a scarf - back to balls for you.

Large and repetitive projects are not for me; small and increasingly complicated is my knitting type. As yet I am unsure if I am also given to small and increasingly complicated prayers. Lara may just end up with a prayer Octopus (a pattern from the exhilarating World of Knitted Toys).

There is a light, and the light is contained in a handful of knitting books I received for gifts over the last year. As I slowly escape the snatches of the failed prayer shawl, the slinkster-cool designs in The Cool Girl's Guide to Knitting and Hollywood Knits Style are luring me out of my rut. And then there is Mason-Dixon Knitting, a book Elizabeth gave me that is based on the blog. The witty knitters devote a whole chapter to log cabin knitting, a pattern borrowed from our sisters (and brothers) of the quilting world. Instead of making a blanket (or shawl!) by starting and the top and knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting knitting until you reach the bottom, log cabin builders start with a center patch and knit concentrically. Reading about the technique caused the same sort of pulse-quickening one usually expects to receive from action movies. It's just so (counterclockwise) flipping cool. I tried it with randomly colored yarns, just to see if I could figure it out. Behold, I shall knit again:

p.s., any day a beautiful change is currently listed on Knit it Back under "blogs we love that (ack!) don't feature knitting." So this one goes out to y'all! :-)

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