I love through yarn.
I know, it sounds weird, but it’s true, I express love through hand knitted woolly goodness. I don’t mean the toilet paper cozies of days gone by with the creepy half Barbie, unless you are into that kind of thing, in which case I may already have the perfect pattern.
Hand knits cannot be requested. And they cannot be bought. I’ve been asked for hats of a particular design. I have been offered sweaty wads of cash under bridges to knit a gift for someone I don’t know. In theory, I see how it’s possible. I know folks who knit for trade, but I cannot. I have tried. It always felt dirty and insincere.
But, when I fell in love with you, a parade of knitting items that might be your style began running through my mind. It can take years of study. Do you wear hats or do you hate to have your hair mussed? Do you accessorize scarves to the perfect outfit or do they choke you? What kind of colors do you love or hate? Do you find superfine merino scratchy or are you likely to treat a luxury fiber like qiviut with the hand washed attention it needs? How often do you lose belongings or leave them out in the rain? Do you live in Los Angeles? or Duluth?
There is so much to know about a person to get this right. And getting it right is crucial, partially for the recipient, but mostly for me. It is heartbreaking to put my all into a project that is casually tossed aside and abandoned. Because a hand knit item gifted to you is a love letter. It is composed on parchment shorn from the backs of a highland sheep or combed from the underside of a musk ox or painstakingly unwound from the beds of unsuspecting silkworms. The language is derived directly from time itself with an alphabet of k1, p1, m1, and k2tog.
It is a meditative process sprinkled with moments of sheer rage that have you standing over an old school paper cutter with a mass of wool sitting dangerously close to the blade because the yarn refuses to take the shape, to be perfect. But mostly, it’s meditative. With each and every wrap of the yarn around the needle I see your face. I feel your loss. And in gifts of congratulations, I feel your triumph. The stitch is a rosary bead and “I love you” my Hail Mary.
There are some love letters I write with yarn that I have spun and dyed myself. Some parts are thicker than others or the color didn’t blend quite right; it is imperfect. But so am I. And this is just a little bit more of myself to give.
It can be creepy to receive something so sentimental with out a “reason”. It usually requires a sadness or a celebration to minimize the weirdness. It seems like I need an excuse to tell you how I feel. In times of tragedy, it may the only way I can get the message to you. And it turns out shouting “I love you” 25,000 times is seldom an appropriate course of action. But I want to.
So I put it into this hat. Or this scarf. Or doggie poo bag holder. Which is less creepy?
If you are the recipient of a hand knit love letter. Wear it. When you are sad, or when you are lonely next, hold the dice bag in your hand like it’s my own. Snuggle the shawl around your neck like the hug I can’t be there to give. Don’t shut it away in a drawer or hand it off to someone else. And if you come to me, apologetically, to repair the hole your dog ripped into it or to let out the waistline, I will be more than happy to recharge it, because you love me too.