seems to bring out my materialistic side.
To be more precise, my materialistic sides.
Since starting to knit, I have found that
I can personify covet,
hoard, desire and want in a fugue of forms. Forget gift-giving. Knitting
as meditation. Knitting as connectedness to
community. I knit because I want stuff, a
feeling that is only intensified by the lack
of instant gratification.
For example, I decided
to knit a poncho this winter. No, I needed
a poncho. I had just finished a summer ponchito
and it had to have a cold-weather companion. Never mind the fact that
I would be joining an inexplicable craze for
ponchos this year, and would be only one of
several thousand women wearing ponchos to
their morning coffee runs in November.
In, oh -- maybe it
was July -- I started looking through knitting
magazines from previous years. Would
I find the perfect poncho pattern there, or
would there be something better in one of
the new fall or winter issues? But who can
wait? The yarn would be all gone by then.
It would take weeks to special order it.
I sat at home over
a cup of steaming red tea (never mind the
heat) and strolled through the pages of my
books looking at all the poncho patterns.
I do like tea, but, actually, this tea-drinking
tableau combined two fantasies. The
first: that I was one of the models in Melanie
Falick's Weekend Knitting book, an endless
source of knitting lifestyle porn. Two women
curled up together on a Weimaraner-colored
couch facing each other, one intimately winding
turquoise wool around the other's knees. Or,
a thinner version of me with the same hair
color and cut, casually knitting a long, skinny
scarf, leaning over the arm of a sofa, mossy
yarn trailing towards the floor. The other
fantasy: that I was a portly, no-nonsense
Botswanan woman, drinking rooibos tea between
solving gentle non-murder-oriented mysteries,
also an idea I had gotten from a book.
Realizing I was getting
way off track, I polled my best friend, also
a knitter, and she recommended a poncho pattern
in a book I didn't own. I went to two bookstores
and neither had it, so within four hours I
succumbed to the feeling of urgency and ordered
it online, with
expedited shipping, so I could feel like I'd
done something about this problem right
away. August was approaching. Want to get
a head start.
Another two weeks
later, and I finally decided on a pattern.
It was not in the book I ordered. Although,
really, how many different patterns for something
made out of rectangles could there possibly
be? I had decided to let the yarn guide me,
and the pattern will come with the yarn as
a kit. The yarn was aptly named Windfall,
without which I had to wait another two weeks
to accrue the money to buy the stuff. Of course,
it had to be hand-dyed, imported-from-Wales
Colinette in a color reminiscent of the glory
days of an apple orchard, a thick-thin texture
that said "groovy, organic." I delight
in the thought that selecting this particular
yarn and pattern will mean that I will need
to buy more needles.
When my poncho kit
arrives, I rip the bag open; but the second
I touch the yarn, the beast is soothed and
I handle the skeins gently. I look at it for
a few days arranged in a wooden bowl, in which
I unsuccessfully dissuade the cats from taking
The weather turns
colder. In knitting the poncho, I experience
great joys ("Wow! Look at how it knits
up!") and frustrations ("How do I take out
this wonky decrease?"). I give a great
sigh when it's finally finished, throw it
over my head while it's only pinned together,
and examine myself in the hallway mirror.
But then, something
alchemical happens. I sew up the seams
of the poncho and rather innocently wear it
to my local yarn store on a busy Sunday, for
maximum effect, and receive a compliment from
I did make it," I respond with false modesty.
In turn, I eye what
she's buying and ask, "What are you working
on?" and maybe she'll say, "Some Nordic mittens"
or "A knit bear" or "A tweedy cardigan" or
"Oh, just a scarf. I only knit scarves."
But I'll immediately sense the sophistication
of the yarns she's knitting together for that
scarf, or wish I had plans to knit mittens,
or feel the sting of the inherent practicality
of a cardigan or imagine how cute that bear
would turn out. I'm consumed with jealousy.
I haven't forgotten
my poncho. I don't love it any less. I don't
want that project over this one, or think
the grass is greener on the other side. I
think all the grass is green everywhere, and
I want to be rolling in knitting projects.
I suppose this is why people have stash problems.
while some of my knitting compatriots are
knee-deep in hats for all their German relatives,
or booties for all their pregnant girlfriends,
I'll continue to sit on my red couch, looking
through those magazines and patterns and books,
thinking about my next project. Which will
be for me, of course. I suspect
I'm not the only one who feels this way, in
fact, I know the owners of my local knitting
store gleefully knit more stuff for themselves
than others. The joy of giving, indeed.
truth is, it isn't always the knitting itself
that gets me through a night of insomnia or
the Weltschmertz that sometimes hits
me on Mondays --you know, those deep fears
about who you are as a person. What excitedly
soothes me is the process of looking at those
beautiful books, planning for a future that
involves something comfortingly soft in a
material that I have given a lot of thought
to, however superficial that may seem. I'm
just happy I've found something like that
I can give to myself. One could call it selfishness,
but I call it dreaming.