I love the idea of knitting. Whenever I see someone in a coffee shop or at the airport working with yarn and needles I feel jealous. They look engaged and relaxed. I generally look harried and frantic.
My mother-in-law, who I adore, knits. No matter where we are, she always has her knitting with her. As the rest of us engage in idol chatter, hands gesturing wildly and with futility, her hands spin out warm and cozy creations. She joins in the conversation of course, but she creates something tangible while doing so.
I asked my mother-in-law to teach me to knit. I liked the idea of something we could do together. She excitedly agreed and she has spent a lot of time and energy compiling the materials for my first project – socks. Now, I am not a complete knitting virgin. I’ve done some basic hats and scarves. However, these were big, chunky affairs requiring little skill or finesse. My mother-in-law’s creation are fine and delicate. When she asked what I wanted to do, I answered socks because I like socks. Socks are often the only thing there to protect the ice blocks I call my feet. I had no idea that socks were apparently an advanced undertaking.
Christmas Eve I started my project. Actually, my mother-in-law got it started for me, it is my job to simply knit and purl my way around the square she established. This is a hell of a lot harder than it looks.
The first problem seems to be that I don’t have enough or hands or am not skilled with the two hands I have. They’ve always worked fine for other tasks, but for knitting I think I need an upgrade. I upgrade my computer every few years, why am I forever stuck with the same appendages.
The second problem appears to be that I am not nearly as patient as I believed I was. I am with seventh graders all day and I seldom lose my cool. However, with a few knitting needles and a ball of yarn I seem to become unraveled (pardon the pun). This leads to problem number three.
I seem to have developed a knitting specific mental disorder. I am becoming the yarn whisperer. I talk to my knitting as I try to get the yarn to bend to my will. It makes sense to me but what my poor husband sees is the woman he loves sitting cross legged on the couch, rocking back-and-forth, and muttering, “Get on the needle. Get on the needle. Don’t slip. Damn you!” I imagine this is both unsettling and unattractive.
I am not ready to give up yet. I am determined not to be bested by a sock. I still want to be that serene spinner of sweaters and slippers. Right now I am a bumbling and incompetent fool, which is uncomfortable. I look to wisdom of the ages and find that Socrates remarked, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” If that’s true, I’m well on my to genius.