Throwing My Yarn, Part 1

One of my recent posts drew the following comment, from a person identifying himself only as “Another yarnish boy”:

So, Yarn Boy, tell us what’s driving you to throw the yarn. Seriously, some of use are curious.

That is a very good question, and in the spirit of keeping my life examined, and therefore worth living, I will now attempt to answer. First, a little history.

Before I learned how to knit, I lived in Portland, Maine, where I had a very close friend named S. S and I usually spent at least one evening a week together–chatting, dishing, griping, laughing, occasionally arguing, and usually drinking tea. Unfailingly polite, S would always ask if I minded before she took out her knitting needles. Her knitting looked ridiculously complex to me, and I was amazed at how she could knit and carry on a conversation at the same time.

S and I were both in our early twenties at the time, so romantic misfortune was one of our favorite subjects–mostly my misfortunes, since hers were a lot fewer and farther between, thanks to a more measured and prudent temperament. That temperament extended to her reaction to my stories. She kept all judgement to herself, and only gave advice when I asked for it.

There was one leak in S’s reserve, though, and that was her knitting needles. One evening, I recounted to S an incident in which my girlfriend used her key to get into my apartment. I’d asked for it back earlier that day, following a category-five fight, and she’d told me that she’d lost it. It was four o’clock in the morning when she came into my apartment, and I was home. Instead of telling her to leave the key on my table and then please get the f#%* out, I made the mistake of letting her plead her case. We did not break up that morning.

S’s needles clicked away through the entire story, but when I was done, they stopped. S looked up at me, and then back at her needles. They started clicking again, but faster.

Poor S. She probably had to knit a whole new gauge swatch after we hung out each week. Now that I’m a knitter myself, though, I understand the relationship between the mood and the needles. I’ve been blessed with naturally consistent gauge, but there’s no doubt that I knit more loosely at home than I do on the commute, and more evenly on the weekends than during the week. There aren’t a lot of activites that immediately hand you a map of your internal state, but knitting does this. And if it’s a big project, like a blanket or a sweater, you have something like a geological record of your heart when you’re done.

This wasn’t exactly what Another Yarnish Boy was asking about, I realize, but taking the long route to the answer is as much fun as answering. Stay tuned for Part 2.


  • Narayan says:

    I sooooo hate cliffhanger, “to be continued” endings…

  • Jennifer says:

    Hmmmm…. I had actually not considered that before but I’m sure you’re right. I must knit differently depending on my mood. It only makes sense.

  • Tallguy says:

    I remember one guy telling me that he does different kind of knitting to different music — Beethoven was better for sweaters, but Mozart for lace. I never looked at it that way, but your mood DOES make a difference, for sure.

    And who knew that knitting could be so complicated?!?

  • Sandy says:

    Don’t make us wait too long for part 2! 🙂

  • Christine says:

    I completely love reading your blog. I went from avid newspaper reader to avid Yarn boy blog reader. I have to completely agree… my gauge changes depending on my mood and settings. I’m a Massage Practitioner, and I knit like I massage… shoes off, good music or movie on in the background, deep breathing. That’s when I, the beginner in my new sport of knitting, do my best. Thanks for your purls of wisdom

  • wenders says:

    “you have something like a geological record of your heart when youre done”…I love this, and it’s so true. I love looking back at something I made and being able to remember it in ‘phases’ when it probably looks just like a sweater to someone else. Wonderfully written.

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