Saturday, August 07, 2004

On Knitting - essay

Just now entering the seventh decade of my life I have had cause to reflect on, among other things, knitting. Throughout my lifetime I must have had at least 25 or 30 items being knit for me either by my mother, grandmother, girlfriends, wives, aunts or whomever. Only two of these items, both sweaters, were ever finished. Neither of them fit. One sweater, apart from being an awful lime and black combination, also had abnormally long arms which made it appear to have been designed for a gorilla. The other was equally as ugly and quite significantly too small. I secretly buried the first one and gave the other away to an elderly undeserving hermit.
I do not believe my life has been particularly unusual in this respect. Indeed, I strongly suspect that all men and boys have many women claiming to knit for them but rarely if ever finishing anything. I'll wager they even more rarely finish anything that actually fits and is wearable in public. All women, at least in America (and I bet most of the western world, at least), of virtually all ages (women teach their daughters at an early age to engage in this useless activity), have several pairs of knitting needles tucked away somewhere, to say nothing of stacks of knitting books and usually thousands upon thousands of patterns which they are going to make "someday." More importantly, however, they also have skeins and skeins of different types and sizes of yarn stashed away in closets and drawers, some of it in the form of unfinished socks, sweaters, jackets, scarves, mittens, caps and who knows what all else, but most of it still in the virginal state. In many cases this is probably all for the good, as all knitting projects are not equally attractive, and many are just plain grotesque. As some of the yarn is downright ugly to begin with, with metallic threads and colors that defy classification on any known spectrum, the projects are most often doomed from the beginning. Think what it would be like if all these items actually were finished, and those poor unfortunates who received them for birthdays or Christmases or whatever actually had to wear them! Thousands, even hundreds of thousands of poor slobs wandering around in badly fitting purple and yellow sweaters, baggy chartreuse and blue socks with silver threads running through them, lumpy scarves of orange and pink with little cute yellow and red flowers, sagging argyles of combinations so unlikely you might think you were on another planet entirely.
Women never return any of this yarn either. Even though they must know they are never going to finish they still cling to their balls of yarn like little security blankets. It's probably just as well. If they did return all that unused yarn the knitting industry would doubtless go bankrupt immediately. Think of it, hundreds of thousands, even millions of women returning literally countless skeins of yarn and demanding their money back. Certain economies, like New Zealand, for example, would probably collapse overnight. There would be worldwide panic; perhaps another depression.
It's too bad someone can't think of something constructive to do with this enormously valuable but hoarded resource. There's probably enough yarn stashed away to knit a suspension bridge all the way to the moon, enough to cover the entire earth in a double layer of repulsive multicolored blankets, perhaps even enough to fill a black hole, if someone could find one.
What is even more frightening is that there appears to be no end in sight. As more women are born every year, and as they continue to instruct their daughters in this wasteful enterprise as early as possible, we're in danger of simply being buried in yarn. Years from now someone from out there will ask, "Whatever happened to the earth?" and some astute platform dweller will surely reply, "I reckon it's the biggest ball of yarn in the universe. Them women just couldn't kick the habit."

No comments: