The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Optimism (cock-eyed or otherwise)

Knitters are optimists. And not garden variety, “the glass is half full” kinds of optimists, either. Remember that story about the little boy who’s all excited to receive a barn full of manure for his birthday because he just knows “there’s a pony in there somewhere!”? Well, knitters not only know there’s a pony in there, we wouldn’t be a bit surprised that the pony is in fact a unicorn, and it’s holding a bag in its mouth that contains a whole bunch of balls of 100% cashmere. In our favorite color.

I used to think this was inborn—that the optimists of the world were, for some reason, drawn to knitting. But this is clearly not the case. As a magical thinker from way back-- that is, I am morbidly certain that whatever I think will happen will not, and so the only way to be assured of a good outcome is to think quite intently about the awful alternative (I said it was my natural state. I didn’t say it wasn’t messed up.)—there is no way that the secret world of optimistic knitters would have even agreed to open the gates for me if such optimism were a requirement. They probably would have packed up their yarn and headed for the hills, if the truth be known. Which leads me to conclude that there is something about knitting that induces a zen-like calm, an assurance that all will be well and, if not, it will probably make for good blog fodder or knitting group stories. Don’t believe me? See if you recognize yourself (I bet you do).

Have you ever:

…found yourself in the first third of a tedious stretch of knitting, stopped to pick it up and see how much farther you have to go, knit for all of five more minutes, and then checked again as though 12 inches might have magically appeared?

…realized that the garment you’re making is far too big but kept knitting anyway because “it might look better once it’s done”?

…tried on the same too-short sweater more than three times because this time, tugging on it might actually help?

…repeatedly straightened/uncurled/smoothed out an errant piece of knitting with your fingers because this time it might stay?

…purchased yarn on sale even though you didn’t like the color because it might look better at home?

…kept a half knitted item in your knitting bag/stash closet/thrown under the couch for six months or more because you’ll “get back to it”? (we will not discuss the half of a pink pomotamus sock living in shame in the bottom of my knitting bag. I just know that someday I will not hate the knitting of that pattern more than I love the look of the finished product)

…grabbed a knitting project to take with you but not brought along the pattern because you’re sure you’ll remember?

….grabbed the same project but failed to bring a crochet hook because a dropped stitch didn’t even cross your mind?

….or another ball of yarn because “this one will last”?

…gone back to the same LYS so often that the staff roll their eyes when you walk in because you’re just sure they’ve gotten something new and wonderful in since you were last there….2 hours ago?

…haunted the abovementioned LYS because you are positive that the delectable yarn you crave is bound to go on sale? (Trendsetter Tonalita…in the pink zebra colorway….I am unreasonably in love with it and I just KNOW it has to go on sale at some point)

…knitted yourself a hat/scarf/mittens/whatever even knowing that you never wear this type of item, because it’s so cool that you’re bound to wear this one?

…given away some yarn and actually believed (however briefly) that this attempt at destashing would not result in the purchase of at least as much new yarn as you gave away?

…purchased all you need for a project except for the size 6 circ because you just know you have that size somewhere…even though you don’t remember purchasing it, using it, or seeing it?

…attempted to knit over the cat in your lap because this time the cat will restrain itself from biting the yarn, batting at the needles, and otherwise being a giant pain in the tush?

…looked at the same yarn websites on a daily basis just in case today they happen to be selling cashmere in your favorite color for $2 a ball?

…enthusiastically explained your current project to a group of completely uninterested muggles because you just know that if you explain it right, they’ll totally understand and want to rush out and buy knitting needles and yarn?

…continued knitting on an item for a small child even though said child is now old enough to be married. For the second time. After all, someone might be able to use it.

But see, I don’t think this is a bad thing. Along with all of the above are some other rather wonderful things—like those intrepid knitters who look at a sweater and, without benefit of pattern or even seeing the darned thing in person, think “I can make that.” And do. Or the ones who start a pattern in expensive yarn, even though the pattern is labeled advanced and even though there are at least three things in it that they’ve never done before. And they might swear a lot but they do it. I’m starting to think that all knitting is a form of optimism, a leap of faith. We start with this pile of fiber and these two sticks….and we dream. How can that be a bad thing?

3 Comments:

  • At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Marianne said…

    Oohhh, it's not a bad thing, not at all, just another point in favour of Knitters taking over the world...would be a good thing. a.very.good.thing.

     
  • At 6:49 AM, Blogger KnitTech said…

    Oh my gosh!! Some of those are dead on.

     
  • At 10:26 AM, Anonymous angie cox said…

    "Guilty Your Honour on all counts"If that Tonalita goes on sale let me know ..it is gorgeous but rather a high price!

     

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