The sun was shining that flaxen color. The city park was twittering with children's voices. Swing chains squeaked back and forth. Sprinklers chattered droplets of water on a distant soccer field. I sat on green grass, my bare feet cool, there on the earth. And I knit. With fat wooden needles, I cast on in creamy alpaca yarn for a pattern of cables that would ripple across a knitted throw.
I'd never knit cables before. I'd never knit anything this large before. In fact, I'd only recently picked knitting back up again after leaving it behind in my early teens (that sleeveless acrylic sweater with the too-tight neckline about did me in). But, somehow, when you need it most, creative work finds you. So it was when a free pattern tear sheet caught my eye in the yarn aisle of our small local craft store. One look at the picture and there was no question: this throw was meant to be in my life. I scooped up a few skeins of chunky yarn, fat circular needles, and a package of those curious, shepherd's-staff-looking cable needles that I didn't know how to use. All this I tossed into a handbag and then into the car for an early summer road trip. There, in that park, in a distant town, while sitting on the grass, I began. It was June 2011.
One stitch, then another. One row, then the next. Lengths of yarn, unwound from skeins, were gathered by two working hands, and woven into cloth. Cables, I found, are so very easy. The pattern, unfussy. The rhythm, just right.
The project that began on a road trip continued to be carted to other places: sidelines of football fields, gymnasium bleachers, campfire-side. I remember once trying it on my husband for size while he was lounging on the sofa one day, then coming back into the room to see him asleep, the throw nearly long enough, but not quite, needles still holding stitches, a skein still attached. Each place, each memory stitched itself along with the yarn into the fabric beneath my needles.
Sometimes, the project sat in the wicker basket in the corner of the living room for a good long while, patient for when I came back to it. I always came back, because there are few things as meditative as the simple repetition of knit and purl.
How could I have known this one would take years to complete? I couldn't have. Had I known, it may have seemed too big to begin. The mercy of the unknown provided an experience I didn't know to choose, a study in gratification that's measured, paced, deliberate. For not all things in life should be completed as soon as they're begun. There in the knitting basket was a constant, a comfort, waiting for five minutes or fifty, for ten stitches or a hundred, for one day or two thousand ninety-two.
Yesterday, I knit the very last stitch and weaved in the very last tail. And I couldn't believe it was finished.