Outfoxed Knitting

Sometimes I'm smarter than the knitting; sometimes it's smarter than me. The fun is figuring it out.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

So very Continental

So sad. I created my first blog post about a week ago. It was rather beautiful Notice you're not reading it? Yeah. That's right. I managed to dump it. It was definitely not an ept moment.

Try, try again.

I learned how to knit about eight years ago from a friend in college. That friend has since passed, but left behind a beautiful gift. Corny as it may seem, there's a bit of her in all I knit. I still have that first scarf -- one of the few things I've knit for myself. It's a stockinette scarf made from a rainbow variegated acrylic purchased at Wal-Mart. Yep, Wal-Mart. I get so many compliments on that dang thing!

But that was European. As I progressed in the ancient art of knitting, I kept hearing about this thing called Continental knitting. It's supposed to be easier for left-handers to learn, smaller movements (great for repetitive injuries) and faster. As a woman dwelling with permanent tendinitis in every part of the body that moves, you'd think the smaller movements would appeal. Nope that not it. I just want to be faster. The idea of finishing a scarf or sweater or blanket in the blink of an eye. What delusions I have.

I was getting quite desperate to learn this miracle method. I sought out classes (always the wrong time), tried the web videos (kind of hard to learn when you keep having to rewind), and read directions (yeah, that worked). Finally, I crashed a knitting circle.

Mwah-ha-ha. My evil plan to infiltrate and abscond with the top secret data worked.


Actually, learning to knit Continental was easy. I watched once or twice and I had it. Woohoo. Purling Continental, that's a different story. A Stephen King, Mary Shelley, down-the-rabbit-hole story filled with pain and punctures and curses (and apologies for the cursing).

First, I sat beside my patient new knitting friend and tried to mimic her actions. Then we each held one needle and tried to purl that way. Next, she held my hands and tried to shape my hands to the stitch. It didn't work. Finally, though, I seemed to catch on. Except for this weird thing.

I'd purl a bit, then my tension would slip and I couldn't complete the stitch. I'd fumble a bit, pick up the rhythm, then my tension would slip. I'd fumble a bit, pick up the rhythym, then my tension would slip. On it went. The yarn tension slipping, mental tension tightening.

And finally insight. A fiber epiphany. When I was actually purling, my hands remembered what to do. They remembered from centuries of men and women doing the same. Some (hokey-sounding) string connecting all knitters through time. But when I thought about the stitch, the process, then I'd flounder. Hence the never ending process.

It seems like there's lots of things out bodies remember how to do without us learning. Sex, for one thing. There were no videos for centuries and still people figured out how to make love. Heck, it's considered one of the "most natural things in the world". (Such a great marketing campaign)

Dancing, too. If I think about the dance, it's mechanical and my partner's in danger of a smooshed toe (or five). But if I just . . . dance, then it's magic. Just two people holding each other up through space and time.

And knitting, I hold out hope that one day I'll be able to create something beautiful and it won't be a trial. It will be the most natural thing I can do.


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