This November I took a leave from the Lion Brand newsletter, put my other writing plans on hold, and focused almost entirely on finishing the knitting book I had started almost two years before. From then on, it was one deadline after another. Once the joyful, restful, meditative part of my life, knitting was now my full-time job. And in February, the coldest part of the Iowa winter, I faced the most stressful challenge of the entire book - the final patterns and projects.
An extra leaf was added to our dining room table. Soon every square inch of it was covered with patterns-in-progress, pencils, rulers, stitch markers, gauge and tape measures, needles, scissors, and an impressive variety of chocolate. There at the table, with the help of two assistants, my patterns were reviewed, gauges checked, and sizes determined. Sometimes this required us to knit just a heel, a cuff, a bind off, or special technique. Sometimes we had to knit the entire project, often more than once.
We passed whole hours speaking in a language of yo, k2tog, MC k1, CC p1 and ssk. As each pattern was deemed ready, it was bundled with its yarn and handed over to the volunteer who would knit the project. Then days were spent answering those knitters' questions. We riddled out problems they discovered by knitting and reknitting until we found a solution. Patterns were amended, annotated, and completely rewritten.
One afternoon while dropping off her project, a knitter paused by the large picture window in our dining room.
"What a wonderful view," she told me.
Putting my needles down for the first time that day, I stood next to her. Outside the stark, bare trees branches etched lines against the pale purple and gray sky. Although it was only a few feet away from where I sat knitting, it had been weeks since I gazed out that window.
"Do you think you'll ever want to knit again?" my husband Rody asked me that evening.
It was a question I been asking myself when my worries about a troublesome heel kept me awake at night.
My love of knitting made me want to do this book, but after two years of thinking, dreaming, writing, and breathing knitting, I was tired of it. Would I ever want to knit again?
The answer came sooner than I thought.
By mid-March, all the patterns and projects were finished. Only the book's illustrations and some stray pieces of writing remained for me to do. To celebrate, a friend invited me to walk in a nearby park.
"I want to show you something," she told me on the way back home. A magazine she found had a pattern for a scarf and matching wristers.
"Aren't they special?" she said.
At that moment, a new knitting assignment did not excite me. But her birthday was soon, and the set would make a lovely present. So I borrowed the magazine and later at home, I studied the patterns. The scarf had an interesting variation on a keyhole. I had never knit a keyhole scarf and I liked the way this one looked. The wristers had an afterthought thumb. I had never knit an afterthought thumb, but they had always intrigued me.
The scarf was made first. Then the wristers. Knitting them was like having coffee with an old friend; familiar, comforting, and undemanding. The finished gift was greatly loved. So was the healing shawl I made next. Slowly, the joyful, restful, and meditative wonder of knitting came back to me. And I am so grateful it did.
May you all find delight with whatever is on your needles. Happy spring!
Michelle's knitting book, tentatively titled A Knitter's Home Companion, is scheduled to be released in Spring 2011.