knit | spin

knitting into the spine

December 9, 2019

Sometimes I find knitting a bit of a slog. I know as spinners and knitters, we laugh at time, but really sometimes knitting just feels arduous and interminable. It can take a long time to get any where useful.

But when I knit lace, something curious happens.

It always starts awkwardly with counting and recounting, stops and starts and many readings and checkings of the pattern. Then slowly, I start to predict the stitches required from the pattern emerging on the needles. I start to see the relationships between the different parts of the pattern. A knit stitch section reduces by twos with paired decreases that lean inwards whilst paired yarn overs in the adjacent section line up like soldiers and then just when the knit stitches are swollen to full, the pattern shifts and decreases begin to reduce the number whilst yarn overs swell a new knit stitch section. And then…comes that moment of flow, when you stop counting and reading the stitches and the work just unfolds.

It is like knitting into the spine of the universe, into a DNA helix, into the atomic structure itself. The clatter and dross drops away to reveal an infinite world of mathematical relationships, where everything exists in complementary harmony. There is no effort, no grasping, no striving. The mind empties while the hands continue knit a code that brings forth incredible beauty row by row.

The feeling is exquisite. I don’t care about finishing anymore.

The yarn I am using is my own handspun lace, spindle spun from raw alpaca. You can read more about that process in my previous post, Spindle Time. The pattern is a Shetland lace pattern reproduced by Susan Crawford in The Shetland Vintage Project (2018).