I am learning to knit. I learned once before in college. I made a scarf. It was blue and orange, and came out too wide and too short. It curled in around the edges. I gave it to my brother for Christmas. He tied it around his forehead and announced that scarves were for girls. I think he wore it once.
This time, I am making a potholder. It is pink and white and I can already tell it is going to be too long. But there is still yarn left and I will keep knitting until it is gone. Then I will simply pull one string and watch it all unravel. And I will begin again.
Because I am not learning to knit because we need another potholder. Another blanket. Or another pair of socks. I just need something to do. No, I am not bored. I do not need a creative outlet. I just need to see some progress somewhere. And knitting is something I can manage.
The faster I go, the more I fabric I make. The woman teaching me says knitting can be meditative once you get the movements down. I aim to remain a novice. Because I like having to pay attention to the needles and make sure I don’t pierce the yarn. I like watching every stitch come together. I like knowing that I didn’t leave one behind. But mostly I like it because you cannot cry while you are knitting. Or at least, I can’t.
Years ago, I was introduced to the concept of prayer shawls. My nana’s church group made them for patients in their local hospital. The idea is to think positive thoughts about the person as you knit. The thought is that your hope, your faith in their future will be captured in the fibers and transferred to the patient when he wears it.
When my other nana became sick she received one. She was always cold. She wore it around her shoulders and draped it around her legs. She survived on less than 5 percent healthy lung tissue for more three years. The doctors have no explanation for this. Maybe it was the shawl. Maybe it was because my nana never did anything she didn’t want to do.
I considered knitting a prayer blanket for my person. But I have always kind of associated them with dying. And I am not going to think about that as I knit anything for him. Besides, he just received something even better from the nurses in his hospital. Thirty of them contributed various colored bandanas—his signature hair wrap before going into surgery—that they sewed together into a blanket. I prefer this approach. It’s a bit more fitting, too. Because this is no white flag.
Each square represents a little charge to kick ass, rather than a hope to get well soon. Each carries its own message of love and respect. And each is a reminder that he has some control over the outcome. He says he is going to hang it on the wall when he gets home. I think I may learn to sew next.