There are boxes upon boxes of wool in my childhood bedroom. My parents have tried multiple times to throw away these boxes, to no avail. Those boxes also hold remnants of forgotten projects – a partially completed poncho, half a pair of mittens, needles with freshly cast on stitches but not much more. I’m sure I once had grand plans for them all. Plans that were ultimately thwarted by laziness, studying, and everything in between.
I learned to knit about ten years ago. I was in primary school, and my teachers had wanted us all to do something useful for charity. We made psychedelically coloured bear outlines, which were then sewn together and stuffed. I can’t remember which charity they went to, but against all odds, and despite our myriad mistakes, they turned out to be more adorable than they should have been.
When I got sick of knitting bear skins, I made scarves. It was easy, mindless work. It kept my hands warm and occupied during ad breaks, and in the car on my way to school. I was entranced by the seemingly endless combinations of wool, and the ways the colours dipped and dived through a completed piece of work.
Then, at some point, I wanted more. I wanted to be able to make something more than a long piece of fabric (which is, in essence, a scarf), and I wanted to be able to keep parts of my body other than my neck warm during winter.
The internet told me I could make mittens and fingerless gloves, beanies and tea cosies, and patterns galore. I need only put in the time and effort. I knew nothing of gauges or different types of stitches. The abbreviations rampant in knitting patterns confused me, and there were times where I simply made up techniques in an attempt to overcome my lack of knowledge (and my refusal to watch tutorial videos). More often than not, these little experiments of mine ended in abject disaster, cries of frustration, and woollen, holey messes. But I was creating. I was creating something – and at the time, that was enough for me.
Years passed, and slowly but surely, exams, career aspirations and work took over my life. I didn’t have time to knit anymore – there was always something else to do. I gave my creations away, and packed up the ones I hadn’t finished. I’d get back to them sometime, I thought. At the very least, I’d be able to reuse the wool. Or the needles. Maybe even both.
There have been times along the way where I’ve been struck by inspiration – I’ll make this, I decide. It’ll be more rewarding and more cost-effective than buying the same item that’s been mass produced overseas. I am, again, seduced by all the different colours, the different textures, the possibilities for novel combinations. But two days later, when my fingers are sore and I’m not even a tenth of the way through, the project is inevitably abandoned, and resigned to whichever box or cupboard is most accessible at the time.
Sometimes I think about how much money I’ve spent on knitting supplies that could have gone towards groceries, or tea, or a new piece of clothing I’ve somehow convinced myself I needed. But as time goes by, I’ve become increasing comfortable with the bundles of wool and knitting needles stashed around my apartment. They’re my little secrets. My pockets of shiny, pointy colour. They’ll still be there, if and when I need them. And perhaps, some day, circumstances will align, or I will complete my transformation into a British grandmother – and then, hopefully, I’ll be able to pick up those dropped stitches.
Yen-Rong is a Brisbanite who is currently a third of the way through her Honours thesis. She has written for Semper Floreat, Brain Mill Press, and Rambutan Literary, and spends an inordinate amount of time making sure her cat doesn’t totally ruin her couch. You can find her on Twitter @inexorablist, or at her website at www.inexorablist.com.