Yes, I have – since my first knitted item aged seven, a teddy bear’s shawl. It was slow …. and carried annoying scars of mistakes. I remember how I would stand on one end and pull to make it grow faster!
More skilled and hopefully more patient now, I have even fulfilled the dream of making a Hebridean lace ring shawl. Almost impossible not to go wrong and equally impossible to correct mistakes. But I came up with a creditable result and felt very proud.
Last November at the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate I found myself gazing up at a stunning knitted shawl (Starflake by Stephen West) that I had to tackle! It was in 4 ply yarn, my favourite, so the four balls required didn’t trash my budget too far. I was told the pattern was free online (it took 2 hours to locate and download) and that there were YouTube clips to help with the difficult bits.
My smug response of ‘I’m an experienced knitter – I don’t need video clips’, came back to bite me big time. These talented new young (to me) designers are taking knitting and crochet to a whole new level. I found myself unravelling the middle section of ‘brioche’ stitch 5 times. OK – there was a garter stitch alternative (with good reason) – and each time I got the 300 plus stitches back on the needles I vowed just one more try. But something in me wouldn’t give up.
I made mistakes – there for all to see – but was surprised at how little they showed in the overall design. After blocking, this was the result:
I always give my shawls away, but was reluctant to let this one go. Anyway, it probably contained more curses than prayers, I reasoned.
What a lesson in humility it had been! I had rejected the thought that I might need to listen and learn – I knew it all. But then I had to become a beginner all over again. Wasn’t Benedict wise when he required the Abbot to listen to the lowest monk?
Over the period of time I was battling with this, our Christian community had been praying for a friend who was desperately ill with pneumonia in intensive care. She needed a tracheostomy – more for symptom relief than in expectation of saving her life. The medics were pessimistic and family prepared for the worst.
But our precious friend fought on and has come through. The hospital team are aware that something special took place and the word ‘miracle’ was used in the absence of another to describe events.
It was during our morning prayers that I suddenly knew where the shawl must go. The recovering miracle, nicknamed ‘smiler’ by the nurses, is now sitting up, eating and drinking – ’dead chuffed’ by her lovely new shawl and has even made it home.