Sometimes we stretch, and sometimes we don’t.
I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been over the past couple of months to watch Trisha and her lovely group who have been doing the Fish in the Sea knit along.
All of these knitters had knit socks before, but in this knit-along they stretched themselves – learning new ways to cast on, doing colour work, trying out a short row heel and topping it all off with some duplicate stitch. I think every single participant tried something they hadn’t before and added to their skill sets.
It’s one of the great things about knitting. There’s always something new to learn. I’ve been knitting for more than half my life, teaching knitting for a decade and still get a kick out of learning new things, trying new techniques. Keeps the mind and the fingers nimble.
But the truth is, as much as I’ve enjoyed watching the knit along this summer, I could never have participated. For me this summer has not been one for stretching, it has been one for soothing.
My family has been dealing with death and critical illness, my friends with unexpected and often cruel life changes and challenges that seem truly unfair. It has been a rough few months, and while it hasn’t been enough to drive me away from knitting, it has meant that I had enough challenges in real life. I could do without them in my knitting.
I have knit a lot of simple things. Often socks. I’ve put a lot of hand knit socks in the mail – off to far-away friends and family. Socks knit by anxious fingers when there was nothing else I could do. Too far away to bring casseroles or do laundry. Canada is really big, and distances can be daunting.
Last night brought more bad news – the lovely wife of an old friend is in crisis, difficult decisions having to be made. A lot of people feeling powerless.
So this week I’ll cast on another pair of socks. They won’t be challenging. They’ll be the knitters equivalent of mala beads or a rosary. The stitches passing under my fingers as a sort of prayer “let it be okay, let them be okay, knit two, purl two”.
If you’re up for stretching yourself, keep your eyes open for the KnitTraders fall workshop schedule, which will be available in the next few days. There will be an unprecedented range of offerings, spanning more of the fiber arts than ever before. If you’re looking to learn something new, this is a great place to start.
And if you find yourself in more of a soothing stretching place, as I have this summer, remember the words of the great Elizabeth Zimmermann: “Knit on, with confidence and hope through all crises”.
Talk to you again in September friends and remember – autumn is coming.