Ariana at 3 weeks, wearing a sweater I knit during my pregnancy. Had she been a boy, I would have still made him wear it home from the hospital.
Eight years ago I agreed to join a friend for an evening knitting course taught by a black heterosexual volleyball player named Steve out of a converted Vancouver warehouse. I've not stopped knitting since. It has proven to be the perfect antidote to medicine and parenting.
I'm working on a spruce-coloured cabled vest for my five-year-old, and when I knit a few rows in the evening the steady soft clicking of the needles work the yarn into perfect V's of stockinette stitch that are blessedly tangible. Row by row, cable by cable, visible results emerge. Measurable progress is directly proportional to the work I put into the project. Such is not the way of medicine or parenting.
The stitches behave. My needles cooperate. I control every aspect of the garment-making process. When I put it aside for a week, it is exactly as I left it when I retrieve it. Unlike disease, patients, offices or children, it has no life of its own. There are no surprises.
Leif reading Beatrix Potter on a Sunday afternoon. Vest not limited to professorial pursuits; also good for walks in the woods or autumn beach visits.
There is every opportunity for perfection. It is possible to knit an item flawlessly. If this were only true at home or in the office: all errors can be undone, most with nothing more than a crochet hook.
In The Artist's Way Julia Cameron discusses the importance of filling the well - replenishing our creative resources. She gives another reason to knit:
Any regular, repetitive action primes the well . . . Needlework, by definition regular and repetitive, both soothes and stimulates the artist within . . . [and] may tip us over from our logic brain into our more creative artist brain. Solutions to sticky creative problems may bubble up . . .I do love the organic, messy, unpredictable nature of medicine and mothering. But that's what fills most of my days, and a moment stolen to give my hands over to bamboo needles and wool grounds me, lets my whirling thoughts settle and the most worthwhile rise to the top. An inch or two of knitting later - of perfect, even, countable stitches - I am ready to get on with real life.
Toque for early morning September blackberry picking.