knitting spirituality

Mesmerized by the Pattern

One of the things I love about knitting is watching the patterns develop. Circular patterns with variegated yarns are my favorite. I get to watch as the colors line up differently, pooling at times, at other times just blending together. dsc_1994.jpg

The pooling of the colors isn’t something I can control, but I can (and do) watch it develop. I can even “root” for it to develop in certain ways (not that it does much good).

There is, of course, a certain logic to the ways the color pools. When working in the round, in a concentrically expanding pattern, every so often the colors will line up for a while…first when they line up once a round, then twice a round. As the circle gets bigger you get colors repeating three and four times each round.

If you are doing something like socks or mittens, the pattern is somewhat different:dscn0870.jpgThe colors tend to pool for longer periods, more consistently (or they won’t pool at all, and they’ll just stripe as around the cuff).

Watching these patterns develop is one of the things that intrigues me so much about knitting. It seems like the knitter is fully in charge, controls what is happening, but really, we are sort of following along the pattern, and waiting to see what develops.

When I knit a sock, there comes a moment after I’ve turned the heel and either finished the gusset (if I’m working a heel flap) or finished the long rows (if I’m doing a short-row heel), and all of a sudden, I have an incipient sock, rather than a somewhat amorphous tube.

As a knitting project grows, you see more and more in it. The pattern becomes more clear, the structure becomes more clear, the object moves progressively from a piece of string to a series of stitches to a piece of fabric all the way to a finished garment. And as I make it, I get to watch it happen.

Knitting is a great exercise in trust. In believing that somehow it will all work out, if you follow the directions, even if you don’t understand how it is going to work out. There are times when this trust is misplaced. Projects that somehow don’t come properly to fruition. Patterns that stubbornly refuse to produce something that looks anything like the picture. But by and large, the trust placed in a pattern turns out to be well-founded.

Watching knitting develop has some of the same wonder for me, some of the same spiritual satisfaction, as watching a garden grow. I have something to do with how this happens, but it does seem like it mainly happens by itself. And that’s a part of the wonder that is knitting.