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January 10, 2009

Knitting Goddess or Oh God She's Knitting!

For some bizarre reason when I moved here I thought I'd like to take up knitting. It was just a thought that wrapped around me one day like a fuzzy, wuzzy, itchy sweater. The kind that makes you feel like a cougar has wrapped itself around your neck, its claws outstretched licking your face with its sandpaper tongue. (Ever since I moved here I've become a little obsessed with cougars(the four-legged animal just to clarify!)

Taking up knitting was an insidious, almost unconscious thought. It was a thought from deep within where one day, inexplicably, you end up finding yourself buying a pair of knitting needles from the thrift store because something, perhaps a knitting goddess, has decided, yes she thinks it's time to knit.

I found myself in the library checking out a book called the Knitting Goddess which was very New Age and talked about how people are sometimes drawn to knitting when they're in a transition. They start knitting and before they know it they've knitted themselves right through the transition said the knitting goddess author. Interesting I thought hoping that wasn't what was going on with me. I didn't think I'd want knitting to be a full-time gig, just a passing phase. Afterall knitting would distract me from my photography, my writing, my blogging, my flute playing.

My friend Gwen whom I had no idea was such a "crafty" person bought me some cotton wool when she was here and then sent me the link to those cotton dishcloths which are supposed to be really good. Baby steps. Let's start small. Let's see our successes early and introduce ourselves to knitting in as gentle a way as possible. Success breeds success. Surely I can knit a dishcloth.

She generously and kindly bought me 2 balls of green cotton wool and 2 balls of white cotton wool and let me just stop right here and say, I have such generous friends don't I? I do! And today, this week, I miss them! All back in Vancouver busy, busy, while I'm knitting on a Friday night. MMMMM? Maybe I should knit myself a man! A midget. I'd have no patience for creating a 6'2" facsimile of one. I could prop him up on the couch beside me and even let him have the remote to hold on to while I knit. (Why do I find that hysterical? Do I have cabin fever?)

Anyway, when Gwen was here she took me out for dinner. She made me stew for which she had bought the ingredients. I'm still eating the cereal she bought. It wasn't necessary but it was incredibly nice of her. When she came to visit, I felt like I was her project maybe even her chosen charity. Anyway, I digress.

The last time I knitted anything, I was probably about 10. It's so long ago that I actually forgot I knew how to knit until I had the knitting needles in my hands. I used to sit beside my eldest sister, Heather, and when she was between boyfriend number 745 and 746, she was in the den, watching old movies on T.V. and she was crocheting.

A glass of white wine would be on the old fashioned round table beside the blocky 1950s couch, she'd be crocheting, her delicate fingers wrapping the strand of wool around the crochet hook. Her cigarette would be in the ashtray on the side table beside the glass of wine.

I, 13 years younger, would be seated beside her, pretending to knit, pretending to do anything but really just being happy to be beside her and watching her beautiful fingers with the long nails move the wool, imagining the finished version of the lacy, feminine thing she was creating.

I used to look at those people, usually women, but ocasionally one of those "Look at me I'm a Renaissance Man" man who would knit on the bus going out to UBC when I commuted daily. I'd react to them in the same way many people react (wrongly and ridiculously) to women who breast feed in public.

I'd look at those knitters and think, geez, you look like some old lady, like you want to be old before your time. Can't you get a room? Do that at home. I have no idea why seeing someone knit in public bothers me. I admit that my reaction is very weird. Of all the disgusting things people could do in public, why would knitting promote such a reaction in me. I have no idea. Maybe it has something to do with the boldness of it, the exhibitionism of it. Just add it to the long list of idiosyncracies that make me so, umm, loveable!?

Anyway, I have been knitting dishcloths. I started with one that had the face of a kitty cat on it and that one turned out okay. I'm actually using that one. But then I found a pattern that had "2009" on it. And, I REALLY liked that. I liked that idea. Let's make dishcloths for all the friends and send each of them a 2009 dish cloth so every time they clean up their kitchens they have to think of me. Tricky eh?

As you can see from the photo above, I have completed one 2009 dish cloth. But, it has mistakes. As I was knitting it, I began to think about how meditative knitting is, or at least it would be if I didn't feel like I had attention deficit disorder and had to concentrate like a nuclear physicist might on his research when all I was trying to do was make sure I was not purling when I was supposed to be doing the knit stitch.

It occurred to me when I finished that my little 2009 dishcloth (with its imperfectness) is probably a great metaphor for the year ahead, or for any year. Imperfect. Not quite looking the way we imagined it might. Sometimes wishing things could be different but there, right in front of our face, reality, the one we created. And, then somehow the more we look at it, the more we like the mistakes. The mistakes are somehow comforting. Like, hey, there's still room for improvement. I still have something to learn. Even if it's not perfect, maybe my friend will like it anyway. Just like me!

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