Except for a what in hindsight looks like a relatively short time of a few years (due to tendonitis) I have been knitting all my life. I can’t quite remember whether I was six or seven years old when my grandmother taught me during summer vacation that we used to spend in their town on the lake, but it is definitely going on fifty years. I have knitted Icelandic sweaters, Norwegian patterns, Fair Isle style before I knew that there is a special Fair Isle style, one-piece sweaters, sweaters with separate sleeves, you name it. And I have always made up own designs from an idea started by a yarn I bought, a sweater or jacket I saw. See, think, swatch, measure person to wear, calculate, knit. That’s the normal process. And it works. For me.
But I have a very hard time knitting from a pattern. Especially with the patterns that are the thing right now, where a lot of abbreviations are set in a row and you get eye sore from reading the several lines long instruction for a single row of knitting. Come on, I want to knit, not to destroy my eye-sight! (That’s one reason why I could not have become a lawyer, all those paragraphs and numbers when writing a text…)
Then, when I finished my handspun brioche jacket during our visit to the isle of Helgoland my friend Regine decided she wanted to use that kind of yarn for a pattern for which she had been searching the perfect yarn. I still had almost enough yarn left and she started on her pattern, a top-down jacket with an integrated shawl. Now that is the one thing I hadn’t knit and still wanted to learn – a top-down something. (Although I do not feel a need to knit a sock from the toes to the top, because grandma’s way of knitting socks works fine for me and any kind of foot I would knit a sock for, so I concentrate on the one way of doing it, and the one kind of heel for that. It’s a tested and tried concept and all I need is an outline of the foot or a size.)
So after Regine had finished her jacket and just recently sent me the picture of conclusion I decided now, in lockdown, one of the projects that get started – and I begin a new textile project almost every day because of my shortened attention span – would be that jacket. From a handspun three-ply yarn I had finished last year and which was waiting for a perfect wearable to be turned into. So I turned to Regine’s pattern. And Thank God that she has been patiently coaching me, it has been a rough ride from the very beginning. Because I just don’t get it from the way a pattern is written. By now I have survived the beginning part of the shawl, two sides, taking up the stitches from one side, and, that was the worst part, dividing those stitches up into back, shawl sides, and places to start increasing for the front parts.
Perhaps I am too stupid to knit from a pattern. Or my brain is not set up for this. In any case I was close to throwing it all against the wall a couple of times, and I have – as always – begun to take a few liberties of my own. But I want this jacket enough to keep going. Probably there will be other instances where the pattern will drive me crazy, but by now I think I will be confident enough to just resort to my own capacities and divert from illegible knitting lingo. Or ask Regine, her brain is wired differently from mine, she can deal with this stuff.
Mind, this is only one of five major knitting projects lying around, plus a pair of socks I carry back and forth to work to take out during break. Plus several layers of quilting projects on my design wall, a very untidy studio, and spinning. Certainly enough stuff for my short-attentioned mind to flutter around amongst and still remain busy enough during these times.
One wonderful thing is that Kathy and I have given a little twist to our frequent mail correspondence, we are writing ‘with No C’. No mentioning of the virus or the pandemic or ranting about politicians’ decisions, which both of us can be very adamant about. Of course, all our daily structure is shaped by the big C, but it is so good to talk about tulips, baking soul food,
and the things we have done during the day, without actually naming that backdrop scenario. That makes for a very good part of the day, reading about each other’s lives. I get worried when she misses a day, and I make sure if I missed mine before going to sleep (usually it is one of the last things I do in bed, write my message to Kathy!) that I get it in right after I wake up. To me it is a sign that the real life goes on somehow. That friendship persists. The weird thing for me is that my social life hasn’t really changed all that much. I don’t really have many friends here in town – except for my refugee friends – so I don’t have many locals whom I miss seeing. All my friends are scattered throughout the world. But I would have had a canoeing party on my upcoming birthday and three friends would have come from far away to join the crew of my family and two refugee friends. That won’t be possible. I know, other people had to cancel their wedding, or can’t attend a funeral service because of restrictions. Still – I don’t party or celebrate frequently, and when I planned this, it was a special thing for me to be so outgoing. Now we will be in lockdown still, no friends from far away places, and even highly unlikely that the family by itself can go and do something. Although I am going to check that one out.
And one more good thing: my new computer arrived. And has been set up, at least to begin working with. Life goes on.