If I was only allowed to choose one thing that I loved about knitting, I would probably hem and haw and struggle for days to figure out what my single favorite thing would be. Because knitting, frankly, is awesome. It is both relaxing and productive, and opportunities to be creative are boundless. But after some consideration, I would probably say that my favorite thing about knitting is its potential for redemption. In knitting, there are few mistakes that can’t simply be undone. You might not believe it (because I usually keep it to myself), but I make knitting mistakes all. the. time. As much as I wish I could just be perfect at this one thing that I have so much passion for, it is no small comfort that I am always able to rip back a mistake and start over whenever I need to. If only the rest of life were so forgiving! Seeing as it isn’t, though, I am grateful for those things in my life that are more malleable and present opportunities for personal growth with few negative consequences.
It is fall now, and I’m making myself a new sweater. The yarn, harvested from my too small Lila pullover, has the stink of failure all over it. When I first made the sad discovery that Lila was never going to fit properly, my immediate impulse was to stuff it in a bag and hide it in a box, deep in the recesses of my yarn stash, until I could decide what to do with it. Deciding what to do with the sweater was actually hard. I thought about selling it so that all those hours of toil felt less wasted, or giving it away to someone who would appreciate it. My friend Claudia, who owns my LYS and from whom I purchased the yarn, even offered to buy it from me to use as a store ample. Though I was tempted to take Claudia up on her kind offer and replace the yarn with something equally lovely and not so laden with baggage, I resisted. Ultimately, I knew that I wanted this yarn and that it was destined for my wardrobe and not someone else’s.
After several months out of sight and out of mind, I finally summoned the emotional strength to rip the sweater back to nothing. Within 30 or so minutes, a whole finished garment was reduced to several cakes of yarn of various sizes, and taking this first step towards redemption felt like an incredible relief. Once the sweater had become yarn again, it was much easier to conceptualize how it might become something new and better, something that would become a sweater I reach for instead of one that makes me sad. Finding the perfect pattern for this yarn took some careful consideration, but in the end I chose Coda. There are already a couple versions of this sweater knit in the same yarn that I’m using, so it seemed like a safe bet. I am making a size that should give me about 1-2 inches of positive ease, a stark contrast to the uncomfortable snugness of the yarn’s previous form.
As I work on my new sweater, I am persistently reminded of my past failure and of the potential for me to fail again. Because my apartment is small and my cat is possibly an even bigger lover of yarn than I am, I decided not to wash the kinks out of the yarn before forging ahead. The kinks are an ever-present souvenir of my original failed intentions, and I’d be lying if I said that legacy didn’t bother me just a little. The kinks affect the hand of the fabric, producing something that, early on, looked lumpy and misshapen. The yarn itself now reminds me a bit of chenille, a fabric I swore off years ago after mistakenly assuming that chenille socks would be the softest and most comfortable things to wear on my feet rather than the physical torture they turned out to be. Despite my misgivings and trepdiation, I’ve reached a point where it’s becoming evident that this sweater not likely to be a failure and that it may just be the sweater this yarn was meant to be all along. Time will tell, and I may yet screw up badly enough that the entire thing becomes a wash. But that’s the thing about knitting that I love the most: second chances. And sometimes, when necessary, third and fourth chances.