Saturday, July 15, 2006

knitting and sweating

To celebrate Kwaanza, you have to make the gifts you give. It’s quite a challenge for those of us who like to run through department stores and boutiques at the last minute, pointing and charging it all while someone else gift wraps it. I’m not that bad (I could never afford to be) but because what I make doesn’t ever last past dinner, I’ve always wanted to aim a little higher. Even though everyone loves what I bring, I still find myself watching someone knitting at a café and wishing that I was craftsy enough to pull it off. I used to love to knit and crochet when I was little and I toyed with the idea of making things when I saw everyone fall into the trend a few years ago but I never did anything about it. Last year, for some strange reason, something in me snapped. I downloaded some instructions online, learned how to knit, joined a knitting circle or two and took a grand stab at a rolltop sweater for a toddler, which has come undone so many times since then, it’s laughable.

As usual, there was a method to my madness. I realize now that I used that sweater to figure out how to read patterns, how to make certain stitches, how to be patient enough to make it consistently pretty and of course, to meet other knitters who would help me whenever I got stuck. Knitting has turned out to be much more time-consuming and expensive than I thought but making beautiful things with my hands this time around will make it all worthwhile. There’s something soothing about sitting with a bunch of people and talking, and having tea and cake. It’s like a little getaway – an unexpected oasis of calm in the middle of the city.

There’s lots of places to go downtown, to sit and knit uninterrupted and have tea. And unbeknownst to me, Harlem has a knitting circle, too. Hm. I may have to crash that little gathering in the very near future.

We’re in the middle of a heat wave but I’m shopping for yarn. I’d like to finish that toddler’s sweater and make one for myself and my friend, who was curious enough to look over my shoulder the other day as I browsed the web for patterns. Thankfully, someone from a knitting collective online pointed me towards websites that sell yarn at wholesale prices. I’m hoping that a chance trip to Walmart this weekend might yield the just-right amount that I need.

In the meantime, I’ve found that if I take my knitting with me, I have plenty of time to make things: on the subway, waiting in line at the bank, riding the bus. I suppose that toting around a shoulder bag filled with woolen yarn is no picnic in this heat – admittedly, I get strange looks sometimes. Then again, someone is always looking at me funny for some reason or another, so I’m completely unfazed.

Life is filled with downtime. I may as well be productive.


c-tree-p--o said...

Amen to that! Isn't there down time just about everywhere? Too bad I can't convince my boss to let me knit during my down time at work!

queenesther said...

yeah, downtime. you could knit your way to idaho with the time that you spend waiting for the subway.

funny thing. i don't know how they pull it off, but i know a few people who've found a way to knit on the job.