Great balls of…?

…no, not fire this time. Yarn. 
(This is an updated version of an earlier post)

Not me, or Marsha

           I’ve been knitting since my friend Marsha taught me how back in high school. Which means a lot of knits and purls and dropped stitches over the years.

          All the sweaters I’d ever made over  nearly twenty-five years—several for my husband and for each of the kids, including the  baby sweaters and blankets I’d tucked away, just in case we might have grandchildren eventuallywent up in flames in 1991 when my neighborhood burned to the ground. 

              I replaced my needles, bought some yarn, and started knitting again. Knitting was such a huge part of my life and still is: I love the feel of the wool and the sound of the needles sliding together. And in the end, someone has something to wear or cuddle up with.
 A brief history of knitting: 

  •  Eons ago, Egyptian women figured out how to spin cotton and silk into thread and create a series of knots that became articles of clothing

Seriously? A Coptic sock

  • Once the art of knitting reached Europe along the trade routes from Egypt, knitters began using wool. The earliest references to knitting as we know it today date back to the early 14th century. 
  •  What we refer to as fisherman sweaters were worn by actual fishermen; the lanolin in the untreated wool protected the men from the elements when they went to sea. The traditional patterns on these sweaters had significance to the wives who made them, and for the husbands who wore them: the honeycomb represented the hard-working bee; the rope-like cable pattern signified good luck; the diamond was a wish for success and wealth; and the basket stitch represented the hope for a good haul.
Here’s the one I made:
I am not fishing here. I’m bottling merlot. But the same principles apply. Hard work, good luck, and a lot of bottles...
              The sweaters I’ve made are marks on the  timeline of my life so far: this one for the boyfriend; then that one for the husband, for the baby, for the next baby and the next. For a grandchild. Needles clicking, time passing, life unspooling, things unraveling or taking shape. Each new project represented a new challenge: some were eventually tossed aside with anger or sorrow and frustration, while others were met head on and overcome with triumph.
And in 1992,  I created the world. 

It took me longer than seven days— longer than six days, I should say. More like a couple of months–three, tops. And I did it with yarn and knitting needles. I created the world with yarn and knitting needles, and then I gave it to a child who never really liked it because it was a “little itchy.”

Making this sweater was like knitting a picture, kind of the yarn equivalent of “paint by numbers.”   When creating Earth, I started in the Southern Hemisphere and worked my way northward. Beginning with Tierra del Fuego, and proceeding up the continent of South America, I traveled  from one pole to the other, channeling my inner Rand/McNally. 
There is no accuracy in the scale of my universe, of course. The moon, a smiling crescent, is about the same size as Earth. Call it creative/poetic license. And the planets are not in the right order either. The stars are as large as the planets and it’s all kind of higgledy- piggledy when you think about it.
What a wonderful World

I still have the sweater. You don’t just toss out the universe when someone “outgrows” it, or because it’s “too itchy” to wear more than once. The boy I made it for is a grown man now. He vaguely remembers the sweater, but I see it every day, captured in a photograph. A tolerant young boy, hands at his sides, well-aware of the gross injustice imposed on him by having to wear this sweater.


The End

4 Responses to Great balls of…?

  1. You are so talented! The one and only sweater I ever knit was a disaster, so I totally admire the skill needed to make those gorgeous sweaters in the photos. Beautiful!

  2. Experiencing total needle envy here. I love knitted garments – there’s something so magic about a garment made by hand, with love and intention for the wearer. Yours are BEAUTIFUL.

    But, I must admit, my own knitting skills are rather weak.

  3. Risa Nye says:

    Needle envy–love it! Thanks.

Leave a reply