Filed under: Knit
First, the boring (to my non-knitting friends; you guys just go skip to after the gap) technical stuff: someone posted on KnitTalk today with the question of, how could she use the 200 yards of cashmere she’d just splurged on to get a scarf out of it?
One of the good things about lace is that a goodly part of what you’re creating is air spaces, so that a little yarn can be stretched a long way. Obviously, that’s more true with some patterns than others. This one is simply knitted with right side rows alternating between k2tog, yo, across, and the next one, ssk, yo across. I cast on an odd number of stitches, and one of the right side rows started with a knit one stitch, the other one ended with a knit one stitch. For specifics, go check out Donna Druchunas’s blog when she posts this picture of one of my scarves. For beginners: k2tog is, of course, knit two stitches together; ssk means slip the next stitch as if to knit, repeat with the next one, then put the left side needle into the fronts of those two stitches and knit them that way.
These two different ways to decrease slant in opposite directions and create a balanced effect. If you just do one of them throughout the scarf, you create a biased fabric that won’t hang straight.
Now for the story part: the backdrop is a handwoven placemat in wool created by my friend Robert, a handweaver who lives near Santa Cruz. Robert later wove me a six-foot-long navy wool blanket in the tradition of the Native American medicine blanket: with each passing of the shuttle, he was wishing me good health and well-being, at a time my lupus and dysautonomia were flaring badly last spring. When he finished, we met halfway between our homes at Karen Brayton-McFall’s shop, The Rug and Yarn Hut in Campbell, which I believe is where he’d bought the yarn for it. All those hours and hours of work! It was a tremendously humbling experience for me, and I was absolutely thrilled. It was a beautiful piece of work. Such a generous offer of caring for a fellow being. Mindboggling. I found myself running my fingers over the bumps in the fabric where the weft yarn ran over and under the warp, again and again, so different from the way yarn feels as it comes off my needles. Sturdy. Solid. Strong. It was the perfect representation of the man who’d made it.
That night, I had a blood-pressure crash that woke me up and I couldn’t move or breathe. I had had experiences like this before, but this was one of the very worst ever, and I wasn’t sure I could live much longer if it didn’t let up. Very soon.
And I was immediately angry (if you think I’m a nice person, just don’t wake me up at 3 am, it’ll totally blow my cover): You stupid body! After all his hard work! How dare you give out on me now! How could you make it so he’ll feel like a failure, that the medicine of his caring wasn’t enough, after he put heart and soul and time into wishing me well, someone he didn’t even know well!
As if anybody who ever died passed because the people who desperately wanted them to live somehow had failed them? Yeah right. Gimme a great big break.
But that shot of adrenalin from that anger kicked my lungs back alive, and I suddenly devoured air. I could breathe again!
I didn’t immediately realize it. But when I did, it was so obvious: I went back to Robert and told him that his gift had been powerful medicine indeed. The timing! If he hadn’t given it to me that day… I don’t know…
And ever since, it has been my knitting companion. Even when we had a massive heat wave this past July, I kept it under my toes on the footrest as I knitted away and then, when the evening San Francisco fogbank rolled in, I would move it up and pull it over me. Still do. Always will. My medicine blanket; how could I not thrive, with all that it means to me?
Weaving, knitting, cooking, walking through a park together, being a doctor, being a nurse’s assistant: it doesn’t matter how we give of our time and our hearts. What matters is that we do.
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