I’m reading a great book, Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. It is edited by Ann Hood, the author of The Knitting Circle. It is a compilation of various writers’ reflections on knitting. Recognizable names include Elizabeth Berg, Sue Grafton, Barbara Kingsolver, Elinor Lipman, Joyce Maynard, Ann Patchett, Anita Shreve, and Jane Smiley.
For knitters and crocheters, this time of year is fraught with intense crafting in order to complete our projects that are intended for holiday gifting. Reading this book as I frantically try to finish my many overdue holiday projects, I came across a few passages that truly resonated. Perhaps you, too, will feel the same.
On the topic of casting off she writes, “Some people call it binding off, but that sounds so final…To me you cast off. You send your knitted hat or mittens or socks away, onto your child’s hands, your husband’s head, your friend’s feet. I keep almost nothing that I knit for myself. I used to…But then one day, someone—a knitter—gave me a scarf and hat she’d knit, gave it to me for no good reason except that she thought they matched my hair. ‘I feel good when I give my knitting away,’ she said. And ever since then, I give mine away. I cast it off into the world. Like good wishes, or love, I give it away.”
Isn’t that just the perfect sentiment of why we spend so many hours lovingly making items for the holidays?
Elizabeth Berg also had something wonderful to say about the gifting of our handmade items: “…so much of the joy of knitting is not in the creation of a perfect product. Rather, it is in the act of using one’s own bodily skills to make something for someone else’s body. The gift is not so much in the end result…, but in the say that something made with one’s own hands says a few things of utmost importance: I made this for you. I thought of you while I made it. I guess I kind of love you.”
I’m only halfway through this book, but much of what these fellow knitters have to say echoes my own feelings about the craft. Like Ms. Hood, I cast off most of my knitted items. Over the years I’ve made countless pairs of socks, yet I personally only own three pairs. These were made when I first learned how to knit a sock and are not my best effort. Also, like Ms. Berg, I take great care in picking out patterns and yarns and matching them to their eventual wearer. As I knit, I keep the recipient forefront in my mind and heart and always hope that they will know just how much they are loved.
Once you’ve completed all your holiday projects and find that you have a few hours to spare, I encourage you to read this book. I’ve no doubt that you will see yourself in many of these stories because as we all know, no matter what our age, background, experience, etc., knitters share common bonds that transcend all differences.