Monday, September 6, 2010

The Knitting of a Life

Wool and silk snake from the ball on my lap, up around my fingers working furiously, forming a tube.  The screen door slams and from the living room we can hear the shouts and shrieks of my four on the porch, all a-tumble, working out the energy that compels them relentlessly in the child-work that is play.

"Are you knitting on four needles at once?" she asks incredulously.

I'm jolted from my concentration and think a moment before responding.

"Yes, but its really not as hard as it looks.  You just the 3 hold the tube in place and you just knit one needle at a time to go in a circle."

She gives one last dubious glance.  I know that look.

The first time I saw someone knitting a sock on the round with four needles, I said to myself, "That is insane.  No way will I ever attempt that.  Its too hard."

It was months later before I found myself, armed with the 4 double pointed needles, spending an afternoon in deep concentration and insane frustration, working it all out. 

The first few rows were a mess.  I dropped stitches by the dozen and haphazardly retrieved them.  I pulled the whole thing out once, twice, three times and started over.  I tossed it across the room and glared at it and told myself whoever invented this method must have been out of their ever lovin' mind.  I may have even called the offending inventor "stupid."

I continued on in this frustrated garble until, after the fifth or sixth row, things began to go a bit smoother.  The knitting was circular!  It resembled *gasp* a sock!

The trick was to refuse to be distracted by the intimidating look of 4 needles at once.  The solution was to take it one needle at a time.


"I don't know how you do it," he said, smiling kindly.  "We had our hands full with the 2 boys, I can't imagine how we would have handled four!"

We are standing in a restaurant, watching my four frantically color pages with the concentration of da Vinci.  It has been a long day, and I'm sure I'm showing signs of wear.

I know when I walk in with my four in tow, younger than most women having their very first baby,  people look dubiously - how does that work?

I don't always get it right.  I mess up and wonder if I'm making mistakes that will scar for a lifetime.  I try to pick up dropped stitches just to realize the whole thing is twisted.  I believe sometimes they would all be better off with someone else in charge.  I lay awake at night in frustration and fear of what the next step will bring.

But God is faithful and I have hope that someday I will look back at the moments of uncertainty with more clarity than I now possess.  Children will grow and I have hope that I will, too.

 Its not easy, but, like knitting four needles at once, its all in taking it one step at a time.


  1. I fully believe that every good mom fears she is doing a horrible job. It keeps us on our knees and humble. You are so correct, the tediousness of knitting and learning new skills is so similar to raising our children. One reason I love knitting is hte short-term goals and beautiful finished project after a week or 2. I have to be content with the fact that it may take years and years to see my children as "finished projects". It helps me keep my perspective.

  2. I'm surprised no one has said it yet, you are doing a great job! How do I know this? Because of the way you talk about it with such wonder and awe and warmth and cautiousness. When I went to my PPD counselour that is similar to what she said to me and it really helped. She said she could just tell by observing in our sessions that Elijah has a great mom and he is really lucky!

    Also, since no one has said it doesn't matter WHAT age you have children, you will still have growing up to do. In fact, I feel sometimes that I'm growing up a little late -- dealing with stuff a little later, that is. Being a parent forces you to think about certain things, such as your worldview, and deal with them. So in some ways, I'm sure you're more mature than I am.

    It's not like we get our ducks in a row, then have children and our lives are over and we pass on the torch. It's a simultaneous process of growing up for parent and child. ;)

  3. Thank you so much, Nichole! I think you are right - no matter when you have babies, you've got a lot of growing and learning to do. I find that I get overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of raising four - and the fear of things getting harder as they get older. However when I put my focus on the day to day work of mothering in the moment and the small victories there, I am much more at peace with the entire process.


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