Wednesday, November 24, 2010


My mom is what Debbie Stoller, in her classic knitter's guide Stitch and Bitch, calls a "get your freak on" knitter. Says Stoller: "Throwing away their knitting magazines and relieving themselves of the shackles of a pattern, these knitters, also known as artsy-fartsy knitters, like to grab some yarn, grab some needles, and just make something up. Many of them are so busy expressing themselves that they can't be bothered with knitting rules or techniques. The sweaters they make are one-of-a-kind, gorgeous concoctions, though you might not be able to get your head through the collar."

Like many women, I have a deep-seated fear of becoming my mother. I've begun to confront that fear (read the original post on this blog, for instance). I'm trying to embrace the parts of myself that are like my mom, rather than run screaming in the opposite direction.

But, we've always been different sorts of crafters. I tend to like to follow a pattern, usually just choose one color or color scheme for completing any given project, and stick to the basics, not going too far astray from what anyone might call "normal." Sometimes my crafting is like what my mom says about my clothing choices: "Elana, do you ever wear any colors? I mean, it's always black and grey, grey and black." (That exchange happened a few years ago, but sadly it pretty much still holds true.)

For a few weeks, several of us in my office have had a knitting circle, preparing squares for the Pine Street Inn Knit-a-Thon (see more in this post). Our bunch has shown that knitting is a timeless activity - women have been doing it for years, probably because knitting together opens us up to share parts of our lives that we might not otherwise share. We now knit at lunch time, knit during monthly birthday parties, and some of us knit during conference calls (not me, of course!). So when I started working on my square to contribute to the project, I thought it would be a perfect project for me, an old-school knitter. A 9 inch by 9 inch square. What could be harder?

I had forgotten about genetics. I started knitting (see lovely sea of turquoise above) and got 80% of the way through my "square" before I realized it was a rectangle. An 11 inch by 8 inch rectangle. I knit one final inch, did the binding off, shed a tear/gave a huge sigh of relief, and threw it in the pile of squares created by my co-workers.

And the funniest thing happened.
Everyone liked my "square." Even though it was freaky-big and didn't meet the Knit-a-Thon's "requirements." It's the same way I really like the square being created by my co-worker who's knitting for the first time. She's totally charmed me by saying "Elana brought her own sticks." I love that she calls needles sticks - I'm really not making fun. I also love that her knitting is super-tight, full of holes, and that she might drop a stitch, oh, for every five stitches she completes.

So, on this day before Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks for imperfection, for beginnings, for freaks, and for breaking the rules. Get your freak on, knitters.

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