end to end

Zipping through my backlog of blog subscriptions this morning, I found this link to Karen’s review of Knitting Heaven and Earth by Susan Gordon Lydon. This made me so happy, because I was hoping the sky would clear up enough today for me to take a few pictures of my current sock for you, and I’m happy to link you to the review while I do so. Before I started knitting, I would not have believed that any sort of craft would become such a part of my life.

This is Lana Grossa Meilenweit Marmi in 7003, which is no longer languishing in my closetI didn’t intend to knit this sock. I was working on another one a few days ago. I carried it around in a little elastane drawstring bag. A woman sat across from me on the bus and watched my fingers working rapidly.

“How many pins you using in that?”

“Five, total.”

“What it going to be?”

“A sock, someday.”

She smiled. “I can crochet, but knitting look too hard.” She had a warm island accent and was bundled up in an even puffier coat than I was.

“It all makes sense once you start,” I said. It does, but I know what it looks like from outside. Having five needles going all at once looks like magic, like I’m standing over a cauldron waving my hands and speaking arcane languages. It looks much harder than it is, but it’s hypnotic whether you’re watching it or doing it. That day, I put the little elastane bag down somewhere and I haven’t seen it since. I even called all the places I was that day, and no one found it. So I took a deep breath, let the yarn go, and started another sock. This sock. With only four needles, which makes things slightly more difficult and less impressive to look at in process, but only a little on both counts.

I started to knit after my mother died. I had knit a little scarf before and chalked it up to something I’d tried and accomplished, and hadn’t bothered again. But when I returned to real life after my hometown sojourn, one of the ways I quieted my head was by giving my hands something to do. There is a buzz in my head when I’m stressed, like a slightly-too-loud fluorescent light, and it magnifies every negative and mutes every positive. Turning a quarter of a mile of string into a pair of socks? It stops the buzzing. That I have something useful when I’m done is almost a bonus, since it’s the process that calms me down and brings me pleasure.

This yarn is mostly pink with shots of cream and brown. It looks like an almost-empty bowl of cherry-vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s syrup on top. The color variation means that a plain sock without cables or patterning is best, because those things look better in yarn that’s closer to monochromes. This, too, brings me pleasure. And so does settling down in the chair in the living room and letting my hands go, counting every once in awhile, watching through the back door as people walk on their way home from school and work and playing in the park while dogs kick up plumes of snow. Every single time, I marvel at the twenty minutes’ worth of geometry and stitching that turns the tube into a sock with a heel. When Myron comes home from chess tonight, I’ll be nearly ready to finish the toe.

Over the past year I have not made much time for knitting. Now, while I consider the changes I’m making in the manuscript as I revise—some of which are unfortunately major—I need that annoying buzz turned off more than I have in a while. It’s a good thing that I have so many socks to finish this year before the snow stops falling. Toes will be toasty.