Reading the Bones

November 22, 2017

Sometimes, knitting is divination. Like casting the bones or a tarot spread, many things can be read in a piece of knitting.  Not things to come but more Jungian type symbolic meanings giving deeper understanding of things that are.

I lay before you a recently finished cowl and read from its stitches.

The pattern is Balnarring by Whisky Bay Woollens, a pattern collection inspired by Victorian beaches. The yarn is Shilasdair Luxury 4ply from the Isle of Skye, in the UK, a blend of merino, alpaca and cashmere in the natural shade, Cloud, held together with my own handspun, a 2ply woollen spun, fingering weight from a Finnsheep fleece from Fairfield Finns. Project notes are raveled here.

Reading points:

  • Whilst we alone make the stitches, our work is entangled in the lives of others. Many hands were instrumental in this making: a knitting friend created the pattern, a dear friend held my hand after a long hiatus from knitting, helping me decide on a project and choose the yarn. She found me another skein of Shilasdair when I ran out of yarn. A spinning friend generously gave me her Finnsheep fleece samples when I ran out of  my hand spun yarn.

  • Whilst we think that we travel in a straight line, life is circular and we come back to the same place many times. The cowl is knit from end to end and grafted to make a circle. The first section was begun in our old neighbourhood in Melbourne, growing inch by inch through the selling process and the moving, to finally finish in Ballarat, but without close inspection, you can’t tell where it begins or ends for life is a great circle.
  • Deal carefully with the past or it shadows the present. Way back when I first carded the Finnsheep for an earlier project, I didn’t clean my tools properly. There was a small amount of black alpaca left on a carder. Years later, the alpaca has created a shadow on the otherwise clear white of cowl. It doesn’t seem a flaw though, just a reading point, another marked stone.

  • New challenges can be uncomfortable but persistence brings mastery and flow. When I began this project, with the added layers of complexity that selling our home and moving had brought to my CFS fogged brain, I was struggling with multiple concepts in knitting. So I chose an unshaped article with an interesting stitch pattern. For the longest time, I had to follow the chart stitch by stitch but eventually I learned the pattern and understood the movement of it. Without looking at the chart, just looking at the stitches themselves, I could knit confidently, understanding which stitch was required.

  • We have all that we need, trust to that. I didn’t really plan this project, I just knew I needed to cast on and knit something through the relocation process. I didn’t estimate yardage properly, just bought a couple of skeins and grabbed my Finnsheep leftovers from the Shackleton project. Despite running out of yarn multiple times, spinning more yarn twice, needing more fleece and more millspun yarn, at the point required in the pattern, I simply ran out of yarn with no hope of more. There were no more skeins of Shilasdair to be had, no more of that fleece to be had. I had enough to finish but no more.