There is a rhythm which all of our lives follow. A to and fro motion which sends us out into the world and brings us back to ourselves, like the ebb and flow of the tide. It is said that prior to entering a labyrinth, the walker should frame a question they wish to have answered. The motion of turning and bending within the labyrinth allows the walker’s mind to formulate the answer. By the time the centre is reached, the answer is known.
Knitting, has its own meditative quality. Two basic stitches, the knit and the purl, interlock and form a structure which can be shaped by adding or decreasing the number of stitches until a finished article emerges. The rhythm of life comes down to the basics too, put these together and we have the complexities we live daily. If our lives could be laid out before us, think of it as a piece of knitting being blocked, we would see the changes in tension, the delicate strips which are more vulnerable to pulls, the heavier sections to handle daily wear, bright colours, dark colours, differing fibres and contrasting designs. (The description reminds me of an afghan made out of scraps and practice squares.) We would see our questions and discern where and when our answers came.
There are shawls which are knit so fine they can be pulled through a wedding band. Fishermen at sea wear heavy wool knits, strengthened with cables to protect against the winds and storms. And tiny knits wrap our most cherished newborns; we mustn’t forget the well-worn and darned pair of knit socks to keep our toes toasty and warm in the winter months. All of these articles stem from the same two stitches, interlocked and interwoven – knit and purl.
A handknit gift means the knitter thought of you while making the item; they thought of you when picking the pattern, the yarn – its colour and texture, while knitting and while wrapping it up. And when we put it on, we think of the person who knit it. Interlocking and interweaving.
Knitting is a skill originating out of necessity, and for some it continues to be so, for others it has been elevated to an art form. Whichever form it takes, it remains the same – to and fro, back and forth, row upon row, knit and purl. Just as life continues on with the simplest acts and simplest pleasures interlocking and interweaving to answer the questions we all pose.