I have been knitting a sweater for a very long time. Some of you who know me know of this sweater. And know of it's saga. The pattern is "Ambergris" by Ann Weaver and the pattern is from her book White Whale. The yarn I got at Vogue Knitting October 2012 and it is a hand dyed superwash merino, DK weight.
I am sharing my reflections on this project both from the beginning to the end, and I do hope you enjoy! Now, travel back in time with me....
The Makings of a Sweater
Somewhere this fall I got this crazy notion to start a sweater. I did not need to have one more thing on my plate. I do not need one more distraction calling me away from the laundry needing to be folded, the dishes pilled aside the sink or the stack of paperwork needing attention. I didn’t anticipate the distraction that this sweater would cause, the excuses I would make to myself and others about the time I was spending on knitting a sweater I could have simply marched out to the store and bought. Ahh, I tell myself. It’s not the kill but the hunt. Not the product but the process. We all really just know it’s about that yarn.
That yarn. Sigh. Like a temptress luring you away from reality it sits on the shelf. You try not to touch it and yet the color excites you and one touch and you melt. Me, being the methodical and practical little gal I am, reasoned with myself with why I shouldn’t have it. But alas the yarn won over, and with a quick and hasty decision and the help of a little plastic card, that yarn was now mine.
That yarn and a pattern for a sweater. Not just any sweater. No sir. I had ambitions. Cables, lace, charts, markers, counting; the whole nine yards stared me in the face. But I had gusto and enthusiasm and plunged in naively and excitedly. The thrill of the newness, the challenge, the unknown invigorated and motivated me. I counted, cast on, placed markers and started in on my adventure.
Thrill of it all made it go quickly. The beginning was simple. Ribbing flew on those needles and I was ecstatic as I watched my sweater grow. I was smart enough to read on though. I knew what I had coming for me. There were rough waters ahead and I was bracing for it. I figured on just figuring it out as I fumbled along. I was determined and resolute that nothing would pull me down in creating this sweater. By now this was not just a “sweater” but something of a Picasso. My little masterpiece.
The easy gave way to more challenges and my suspicions were met. I did face challenges; challenges that were beyond me. I asked around and got advice from seasoned knitters. They even helped me swatch and shared and taught me not only with words but actions. I clung to their advice and my needles, and through the toughest patches overcame the obstacles. Now my sweater was onto a new phase. The newness worn off, the excitement now simmering in quiet resolve, my sweater was in the long-haul stage.
By this point I was beginning to recognize the pattern, the stitches and the rhythm. Knitters know this point. It’s a moment of jubilation when you quietly realize you are sailing along with a smoothness, almost becoming one with your project. The click clack of the needles, the yarn slipping through your fingers, it all feels so comfortable and certain. You see progress and growth and the yarn, the large ball now dwindling, is transforming swiftly and beautifully into that sweater. The dreams in your head are becoming reality as each inch of yarn glides through your hands.
This is just the body of the sweater. You know there will be sleeves, possibly pockets, trim and more. Sometimes these other parts feel like you are relearning the process all over again. There’s new challenges as you decipher through the increases, decreases and other stitches along the way. At times these might even feel like they’re unrelated to the sweater I started with, like taking a path leading off the main road. It seems like a distraction or a different direction. However, I know that it is all a part of making this sweater come together. The pieces will fit together. The pattern says so. The designer knows so. I have to trust it to be that way.
When I finally complete this masterpiece, I realize there’s so many hours of my life worked into each tiny little stitch. I can look back at this sweater and think about memories tied into each stitch. It’s almost like flipping through the pages of a journal. Reflections on life, thoughts, hopes and dreams are interwoven through the yarn. The sweater is no longer just an article of clothing but a mirror of life.
All this time during knitting, made me reflect on how marriage is much like the process of knitting a sweater. The fresh allure of a relationship is similar to the call of beautiful skein of yarn. It’s all warm and fuzzy and exciting and we can’t wait to jump in with all enthusiasm. The beginning is easy- you discover each other and their likes and dislikes, what makes them tick, how you can get along together. Much like the ribbing on my sweater, those early years are full of easy, simple work in your relationship. The happy glow of excitement casts a rosy essence on the memories we reflect on.
We do know that there are tougher waters ahead. Others have warned us; perhaps we’ve experienced it as children watching our parent’s marriages. That territory can be brought about by any number of circumstances; some that we can control, many that we cannot. When we know that hard times will befall us, we can make a choice early on. We will abandon the project, knowing that the sweater will not meet completion but remain another unfinished project to be stuffed into our closet, or we can resolve that no matter the challenges that face us, we will work through it and stick to the goal of completing this sweater. In knitting, we know that the intricate patterns and complex stitches are achieved only through perseverance, dedication and commitment. So it is in the process of marriage. We can ask for advice and wisdom from seasoned veterans, but we must decide before the tumultuous times that we’re going to follow through to completion on the process of life and the journey of marriage.
Life deals out diversions and distractions, just like pieces of the sweater that seem to fit awkwardly into the puzzle we’re putting together; yet all the while, we know that it is all there for a purpose. It’s all a part of the pattern. We have to put our faith and trust in the pattern writer. God’s been writing patterns for how to live life for generations of people to fall back on. It’s all there for the taking. His advice is more than helpful suggestions; it is time-proven wisdom from the person who knows us best- our Creator. He’s designed us a certain way and has given us a pattern book so we know how to take each step wisely.
When we combine all of this together, we cannot help but create a masterpiece. Though it may be a journey, we know that it is really all about process and not the product. We don’t embark on marriage because of a sparkling ring or an elaborate wedding. We don’t knit sweaters because we don’t have the means to go out and buy one from a store. We embark on both adventures because it is the moments that matter and when it is all done, we’ll have something wonderful to look at, to cherish and to warm our hearts and souls. It’s the way the designer wrote the pattern.