Thursday, November 7, 2013

This Is Not Small

“That’s how it is at first. You knit to save your life.”

Scarlet, a character from Ann Hood’s The Knitting Circle says that to a new knitter as she’s reassuring her that her scarf will be done quickly. Sometimes when you hear something, does it ever strike you as So True that the words almost physically hurt?

That’s how these words were.

I work a full-time job in which knitting has no place except at lunch and perhaps while fighting a virus on a workstation. My life does not revolve around knitting, but it is important and is the way I choose to spend a significant amount of my time.

I knit because I can see progress. Whatever else is happening in my life, whatever makes me feel like I’m just running around in circles, I can see progress in knitting. I had 4 rounds done. Now I have 10. I have created 6 rounds of a tangible thing. This is not small.

I knit because it is creative. One of the lines in Rent, my very favorite musical*, is “The opposite of war isn’t peace. It’s creation.” Life can feel destructive. Sometimes I can feel destructive. When I knit, I put creative energy into the world. This is not small.

I knit because it makes me immortal…. sort of. I want my knitwear to be used, and that means that it will wear out. It will get dirty. It will even get lost. Some though, will outlive me. This is not small.

I knit to show people I love them. I love you, and I will knit you stranded mittens. I love you, and I will knit you kneesocks. I love you, and I will knit you fingerless gloves depicting gay deer sex because it will make you laugh. I love you, and I will custom order yarn so it is the perfect colors for your favorite team. I love you and I will knit boring socks out of scratchy yarn for you because you want to hang them on a peg on your wall. I love you, and I will knit you as many pairs of socks, as many hats, as many scarves as you want because my life is infinitely richer with you as part of it. Knitting allows me to create a tangible item that says, “I love you so much that I invested hours and hours of my life making this for you.” This is not small.

I knit to honor others. I knit a baby hat for an expectant mother** because I recognize that creating another human being is an astonishing miracle. I have no desire to do that myself, but I recognize it’s a bfd. A hat isn’t enough, but it’s something. You spent nine months giving your body over to this task, and you’ll spend the rest of your life raising that kid. I honor that with a few hours of my own time. It’s not enough, but it’s what I can do. This is not small.

I knit because sometimes it’s the only thing I can do. When my sister called to tell me Grandfather had died, I picked up sock yarn on my way out the door. Grandfather was so important—is so important—to me. He is the reason Andrew and I have a good marriage. With Grandfather and Grandma, I knew it was possible and that I just had to work to make it happen with someone who wanted to work to make it happen as well. When he died, it felt like a light went out. In the days that followed, my hands made the motions they knew—over and over and over. Everything had shattered, but doing this thing that I knew how to do meant that maybe, maybe I wouldn’t shatter, too. This is not small.

Maybe I do knit to save my life. 

May every single person have something they can do that saves her life as well. So say we all.

*Please don’t tell me if you don’t like Rent. I try to be reasonable, but it would be difficult for me to look past that admission and still be your friend. I know that’s a failing of mine, but do try to accommodate it for both our sakes.

**I am passionate in my belief all people are valuable. I believe the father is important. However, I believe the father isn’t as important as the mother when the mother’s body is involved. She’s the one who is pregnant. She is the one who gives birth. She is the one who feeds the baby with her own self. That’s important. That doesn’t make me a rabid feminist. It makes me honest about biology.


  1. What kind of person does it make me if my first thought was, "scarf done quickly, my arse, what a liar!" (I think my first scarf took 9 months. I have strong feelings about scarves.)
    I think it says a lot about you as a person that you're willing to knit for so many other people......and knit what they'd like to have rather than what you'd prefer to knit. Being a competitive sort of person, I've decided that you're a better woman than I.

  2. So say we all. True, that.