One Pearl at a Time

IMG_0245Five years ago, I had a strong desire to learn to knit. I’d been attending my second year at Mount Hermon’s Writer’s Conference and spent two days in a workshop. The mentor teacher, a young author named Camy Tang, effortlessly lead the class while knitting a pair of thigh-high socks. I was mesmerized by the blending of colors and the comforting click, click, click of the needles. She made it look effortless, and I was hooked.

It took another year, and a trip to Pacific Grove’s Monarch Knitting, for me to get the nerve to actually jump into this new hobby. While there, a woman walked in with a beautiful sweater she’d just finished and envy filled my little heart. That’s what I wanted to be able to do. When I asked her how long she’d been knitting, her surprising answer was two years. Two years! And she was already working on pieces I couldn’t imagine ever being able to create myself. Instead, I started with something simple—a scarf. Then I moved into something a little more challenging—another scarf.

A few months later, a friend from church (an experienced spinner and knitter) suggested I move past scarves, which was probably a good thing since my family was scarfed-out. She had a pattern for a man’s sweater she thought would be somewhat simple (says the expert knitter!) I thought it was beyond me, but dragged Chris to a local yarn shop to choose his color preference. That was over three years ago. I’d love to say I whipped out that sweater and it’s now his favorite, but, sad to say, not even close. I would work for months at a time—knitting for an hour or so every evening and whatever time I could squeeze out on the weekends. The project traveled with me—in the car, on airplanes—until it became to large to whip out with ease.

A year into the project, I visited Monarch Knitting again when I had the occasion to spend a weekend alone in Carmel. I’d seen a pattern there for a sweater I wanted to knit for myself on my first visit. I thought if I purchased what I needed, it would give me the incentive to finish Chris’s—since that was his contingency for me to spend the money for another sweater. For the past two years, skeins of delectable orange-cream yarn has sat in a box under my bed, taunting me. It’s been over two years and I’m just starting Chris’s sleeves—waiting for yet another visit with my knitter friend to get back on track.

To get motivated, Chris and I popped into Monarch Knitting again last weekend when we visited Carmel. I told the sales lady that I just can’t seem to get this sweater finished, but I’m finally at the sleeves. She laughed and told me she had a whole collection of unfinished sweaters at home herself—all with only one sleeve left. And to go with that collection she has another of single socks, unable to move onto sock number two. It reminded me of the argyle sock my mother-in-law showed me when I first started this knitting experience. She knitted it for my father-in-law before they got married—over sixty-two years ago, but never finished the second.

I think about that single sock often—beautifully knitted and lonely. Will Chris’s poor unfinished sweater be haunting me when I’m 100? I’ve had more than one friend suggest turning it into a vest and giving up. But there’s something at stake here—my own need to feel a sense of accomplishment

How is it possible that I can have completed two college degrees (both while raising kids and working full-time) and four full-length novels, but can’t manage a simple knitting project? Is it lack of focus or some deeper psychological issue—like a knitting phobia! By putting this out there in cyberspace, I’m hoping I’ll have some accountability—aside from my poor, patient husband waiting for his sweater. Every time I pass a yarn store, I cringe. I won’t be defeated by merino wool and a couple of sticks!

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