This I Believe

Betsy - Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Entered on March 15, 2007

I believe in knitting because it gives me a sense of accomplishment and a sense of belonging. I love the act of creating something out of nothing. I love the architecture of knitting, and seeing a pattern emerge out of a series of knit and purl stitches.

I came to believe in knitting because of a Christmas stocking. I wanted to replace the stocking my great aunt had knitted for my brother when he was a child. She knitted stockings for all of us, but my brother lost his.

I had just been through a stretch of bad luck that began with a family health crisis and ended with the death of my beloved mother-in-law. I was feeling a little lost, and thought the stocking project would give me a sense of purpose.

Easier said than done. I hadn’t knitted anything for more than 20 years, and even so, I was never more than a novice. And, because the stocking had been knitted in the late 1950s, I couldn’t find the pattern anywhere – even with the vast reaches of the Internet.

Then one day, I walked into a knitting shop a few miles from my house and was greeted by a gregarious woman named Barbara. I was agape at the beautiful creations I saw displayed all around me. Could I ever knit anything like that? “Of course you can,” said Barbara. “It’s easy. I knitted this sweater in six hours on size 17 needles!”

But what about the stocking? “Oh, I can graph that pattern for you, no problem.” She did, and with Barbara’s support, I knitted that stocking for my brother. And for the first time in a long time, I felt like anything was possible.

I now knit every Thursday night with a gang of women at Barbara’s shop. It is a ritual that feels as ancient to me as the red tent. It is a craft passed on from mother to daughter. If you’re lucky like I was, you’ll find a community of women who will take you in as a daughter. Women who will cheer you on, who will give their time freely to teach you what they know, and who will hold up your completed project for all the other knitters to admire as if it were a priceless work of art.

I believe in knitting because there are infinite possibilities in every skein of yarn … from the simple to the complex. I believe in knitting because almost every mistake can be fixed. And for those that can’t, there is no shame in unraveling your work and starting over.