The Simple Scarf
He asked if I would knit him a scarf. My grandmother crocheted him one years ago and he’d been wearing it nonstop lately. He wanted another one to expand his choices. I can’t think of the last time he asked me to make him something. To be honest, I was flattered.
We went through my yarn together and chose a couple of skeins for a stripy scarf. A pattern seemed entirely unnecessary, a straightforward scarf being such simple project and all. Only, I could not settle down into this project. I started with a honeycomb stitch and pulled it out once I got several stripes done. I love that stitch, but it wasn’t working for this. I tried it with two more stitches. Ripped them both out. I cast on yet again, this time with a simple seed stitch.
It finally began to click. Not click quickly, mind you. I’m a slow knitter under any circumstances, and all the yarn moving of a seed stitch slows me down further. But, I was making progress. Until that niggly feeling began to creep back in and I knew it was all wrong. It was too wide. It wasn’t going to be long enough. I ignored this for another ten rows. I was well over half way through my yarn. But, there was no more denying it. It was all going to have to be ripped back again. And so I started again. Again.
Some part of me wants to tell you all about that ripping of stitches and beginning again as an explanation. If I hide behind the obvious, maybe I won’t have to see the truth. But, it’s there, peeking through the gaps of my simplification.
The truth is, this scarf took me so long because parenting is tough business. And the messy uncertainty of it spills into my making and back again. The relentless, bone aching exhaustion of the early years gives way to a quagmire of curfews and hormones. When he asked me to make a scarf, I jumped at the chance, even knowing he would likely be over his scarf phase by the time I was done. Maybe I was just giving in to the part of me that wants to be the mom who fixes things. But, maybe I also knew that some of my uncertainty could find solace in Making.
I don’t know all the ways to love them through these tricky years. My fingers knit and purl because they don’t know what else to do when I see them flounder. I rework this row and rip it all back again because I don’t know how to quiet their anxiety. I know I can’t create with my hands a shield to wear into the realities of teenageness. That doesn’t mean I don’t long to try.
Really, this scarf is all about the ways in which I start and stop, and second guess. It is my effort to pour all of my love into a thing to hang around his neck. It is all the words I do not know how to say and it is all my imperfect expressions of love. And, it is none of that. Because all of the love and hope and worry that I carry around for all of my children will never fit inside anything I can make with my hands. And yet, it is woven into every fiber. My love is not the thing. But, it is expressed in the making.
This scarf was my hand project for a trip to Wrocław for the Christmas markets. It was a one on one with just Gideon and I, so it seemed especially appropriate. I passed the time on the train with it, and knit on it when Gideon and I need an evening in to introvert together. Because it was such a slow knit, I had plenty of it left for the train home, and many moments in front of the fireplace at home as well. It was my companion in the run up to Christmas and into the new year.
I don’t really have a “stash” of yarn. I just have a few odds and ends. These were two skeins of wool that, at one point had been slated to become dryer balls. I don’t know the brand, they were just something I’d picked up in Michaels when we were last in the States.
Yarn: I’ve no idea how much the yarn cost initially. Once it’s been sitting around for a few years (as these had), counting the cost hardly seems relevant anymore.
Pattern: No pattern. Just a seed stitch knit with 20 stitches.
Total Cost: Negligible
Slow knitting means plenty of time for audiobooks. These were the words speaking into my ear as I knit.