a stitch in time
When yarn, babies and love come together
I probably won’t get pregnant again. I just turned 40. I have a perfect girl, a perfect boy and, being a child of the ’60s, I’d absorbed, unbeknownst to me, the idea of zero population growth. And now that my youngest is 4, I am starting to get some sleep. Still, I sometimes wish I had done a couple of things differently when I was pregnant. Most of all, I wish I had taken up knitting.
I have only recently started knitting and am astonished by how the simple act of slipping a bamboo needle beneath a strand of wool to begin a stitch calms and soothes me. Knitting has become as important to my well-being as my non-negotiable swims, as necessary as sitting for a moment in silence after the children have gone to sleep for the night. As I try to get my writing and photography career off the ground in the midst of the unrelenting pulls, both enticing and exhausting, of two young children, I’ve become accustomed to feeling like a gerbil on a wheel. For every dish I’ve washed, 10 more are dirty. For every article sold, 12 are rejected.
With knitting, there is only advancement. Every stitch is a good stitch. I can see my progress row by row, and then … ta-da! I am finished. Not only do I have a palpable sense of accomplishment, I have a scarf of hand-spun and dyed mauve Uruguayan wool, or a bright-red cardigan with vintage ivory buttons for my daughter, or a sporty navy-blue cap for my son. And, unlike in the rest of my life, I don’t take requests. I knit to please only myself.
The yarn store I frequent is an aerie of color and light above a busy city street. The walls are neat white cubbies, stuffed with every imaginable color and texture of wool. On one of my first visits there, I saw a pregnant woman fingering a cantaloupe-colored skein, and I wished I were her. Not because I wanted another baby but because I wanted to stand in front of the cubbies filled with the pink and yellow and cantaloupe baby wool and dream. I wanted to imagine a hat that I would create for my baby, a blanket I would wrap him in, a sweater I would slip over her head. I wanted what must be the pure pleasure of knitting for my unborn child: sweet anticipation mixed with simple satisfaction. What a soothing counterbalance to reading ahead in the week-by-week section of my pregnancy book, to measure out the time with yarn, to fill it up with stitches.
When I was pregnant, I didn’t buy baby clothes. I don’t know if my reticence came from some superstition or from a simple lack of imagination. I think it was more the latter, as if I couldn’t believe that there would be someone to fit into those tiny denim overalls. But I believe now that had I knit a sweet pair of soft leggings, a hooded jacket, the knitting of those small garments would have shown me that there would, indeed, be a baby at the end of this. That as my knitting was growing, so was my baby, and eventually, when the time was right, the two of them would meet.