Sunday, May 6, 2018


After being inspired by my friend’s fancy circular knitting machine, I got brave and decided to take baby steps towards one by picking up a simple little pin-loom at Joanne’s a few weeks ago. So far, it’s been a fiasco. There are numerous little fussy things to pay attention to, like making sure to thread every pin, and remembering to rotate the thingy, and making the weave just tense enough, but not too tense. But the main problem for me seems lie in the removal of the weave from the loom. Despite my handling the raw weave with as much caution as if it were nuclear waste, I have still managed to mangle every single one of my pieces while trying to finish them. I’ve tried about 8 different skeins, so I can no longer blame this on cheap, flawed or inferior yarn. It’s me that’s flawed, okay? It’s me! *Sob.*

The consequences of my screw-ups are that Buddy has lots of new “cat toys," and I have begun to immerse myself in online crafting videos, which I find strangely relaxing. No one is yelling at anyone. The crafters are all inordinately calm, and exist a rarified cloud, where their only purpose is  to  methodically explain how to knit a brimmed hat or a cell phone cozy or a doll afghan. And they are all reassuringly competent. When they make an error, they don’t break out into a panic-stricken flop sweat like I do and proceed to make it even worse by over-correcting—no, they merely murmur “Oh, dearie me,” fix it up post-haste, and move on. I can never hope to even mimic their poise and grace under hat pressure, so I guess I can write off a career as a Youtube crafter. That’s fine, since my dream moniker is already taken. (Thanks, Crafty Ginger!)

A scheming little devil on my shoulder keeps telling me that I’m having trouble because the pin loom is simply too small for my lavish talents, and that if had a better, vastly more expensive tool, I’d able to crank out beautiful hipster beanies and dreamy blankets and cozy little hand warmers in a jiff. I am already mentally preparing Mr. Typist for the arrival of a circular knitting machine by constantly reminding him it’s from Germany. He had already pre-objected that it will be noisy, but the minute I told him it was from Germany, his fears were assuaged. Apparently, he maintains a deep and abiding belief in the quality of German engineering, which I plan to use fully to my advantage.

Along with my fascination with looms, I’ve always been very curious about the art of tapestry. I recently came across a video that details the history of tapestry weaving, and I was captivated. The classic method of weaving tapestry is complex, slow, painstaking, and deeply collaborative. It’s the opposite of today’s ethos in every way—it requires long-term thinking, glacial patience, teamwork, and yes, love. Tapestries take years to create and a team of experts all working at their peak of competence. They don’t get to see the results of their labor for years and years, and most remarkable of all, all of this said labor is for the sole purpose of brining beauty to the world. It’s reminiscent to me of the labor that went into creating the Book of Kells, which I saw in Ireland last year. I think that there is still a part of our collective souls that yearn for this sort of slow, complicated, detail-intense process in the service of beauty.

If you have a modicum of patience and about nine minutes, you might enjoy this video on the classic art of tapestry. I’ll be online, scheming to nab my knitter.

--Kristen McHenry

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