Knitted Memory

I do not have the best memory for details.  For those of you who know me, this may, or may not surprise you.  I am very good at learning intricate details of stitches, but I can not remember the names of people that I meet in passing to save my life.   It is astounding to me that I majored in a foreign language being that I absolutely CAN NOT just sit down and memorize things. Dates escape me.  Over all concepts and connections, though, are my forte.  I can recite an overall impression of a story years later and feel the feelings that I first felt with perfect clarity.  I claim that I used to have a great memory before I had children.  I imagine that babies are incapable of developing brain cells on their own, so they “steal” mine while they are developing.  Once they are born, I am missing a chunk that has not yet grown back.  I claim that this is the reason why I can no longer keep track of things, or remember that I have a meeting on Thursday.  I claim this, but in reality, it has always been this way.  It’s just worse now.

It is interesting to me, then, that givin my memory handicaps objects can hold so much for me.  It is almost as though if I hold them long enough I transfer a piece of myself to them.  Like a pensive from Harry Potter.  When I pick up an object or smell a familiar smell I can be instantly transported back to a time when that object had great significance for me.  I realized this week that knitting sems to intensify this.  I do not usually knit only 1 project at a time.  I have about 4 projects currently sitting on my overflowing desk.  Sometimes, though, I find a pattern particularly endearing, or I need to knit on a deadline, so I will knit with great ferver on a single object.  My mind wonders as I knit the meditative stitches hour after hour.  Most often I will watch a movie, or listen to an audiobook to ocupy my mind or if neither is available, I will replay one in my head as I knit stitch after stitch.  Each time I pick up the project to knit some more, I find that I can remember fondly everything that went through my head the last time I knit.

A year or more ago, I knit the Nantucket Jacket, which I loved to the exclusion of all other projects.  I had splurged on the yarn and I adored it.  I loved the way it squished and bounced in my hands, it’s beautiful wine color, and the crisp cables it formed as they came off my needles.  As I knit it, I listened to The Age of Innocence from on Librivox and came to realize that each and every stitch became wrapped up in the plight of the characters.  Ironically when the yarn betrayed me and grew to twice it’s original size when it hit water, my project came to an unsatisfactory conclusion just like the book.  Even now that the entire thing has been frogged and is waiting to be knit again, I can see the story in my head when I touch the yarn, and remember that I much prefer happy endings.

This month, I have been forced to knit just one project.  The August pattern of the month project is a lace project, and I had thousands of stitches to knit to ensure that my pattern was correct and ready to send out.  It was not particularly complicated, though, so to occupy my mind, I watched (or more often listened to) the entire first season of Crusoe and Kings on Hulu.  While the pattern has absolutely nothing in common with the men of these stories, I find that I will forever see them when I hold the finished lace.   What a powerful thing memory seems to be.

Luckily, these story lines are not some that I mind floating around in my head each time I see my knitting.  I am reminded, though, to be cautious with my choices in the future.  It appears that if I chose something hastily, I may be stuck with it forever.  Unless, of coures, I give the knitting away.  On the flip side, though, maybe I can use this to my advantage.  If I chose something to listen to that I particularly love, maybe my knitting will become just as dear.

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