The Blank Slate Yarns Story
I learned how to knit from my left-handed aunt when I was fourteen years old. I can’t recall the needles, barely recall the yarn or anything other than how exhilarated I was at the very beginning knot. So much so, I took a piece of scrap yarn and taped a ‘demo-start’ to the inside of the cheap booklet she gave me. I wanted to own this smallest increment of knowledge, to permanently have it in a form I could never been without. It was a simple slip knot turned ninety degrees but I felt an intense need to possess that progress.
My aunt was gentle but insistent that I knit stockinette from the get go, no procrastinating purl stitches for me and for that mandate I will always be grateful. I hold no purl grudge. Furthermore, since learning from a leftie required me looking at her as though I was looking in a mirror, I paid no mind to how she held her yarn, instead myopically focusing on making those needles form those first stitches. I ended up tensioning my yarn between my index and middle finger so that ribbing, for me, is hardly any different pace. I first refused, like so many of us, to rip out any mistake, so my stockinette scarf (was it a scarf?) had random purl ridges throughout and I was so tense the edges curled entirely inward. It was unwearable but I progressed. It was so far from perfect it wasn’t even close to pretty, but I progressed. And that was enough.
Thirty plus years later, I hardly flinch at frogging problems. I can’t count how many sweaters I’ve frogged at 90% plus complete. Fit not flattering? Frog it. Color looks funky? Rip it. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m far from perfectionist. I knit a Stephen West shawl with some beloved stash yarn and completely botched a section, frogged it, reknit the thing still unable to fix my misunderstanding and kept it that way. I’m fine with it. In truth, I love it. My mistakes ended up building a shoulder into a crescent shawl and the thing wears like a dream! In all things knitting, I get to decide how much energy I will devote to a project and I get to decide where that elusive “enough” lies. Knitting allows us to build patience and tolerance for ourselves while we learn.
Dyeing is the same. I started dying a few years ago, just for me. I wanted to understand color better. What started with some orange dye in a thrift store crock pot in my garage became binders filled with test and after test, tweaking each sample to better match a picture in my head. Eventually I grew confident enough that I dyed for friends. What had started as a private, tentative dabbling into an area of weakness had become known enough to me to present eagerly to others. I love the ways dyeing challenges me. It gratifies patience and meticulousness but still doesn’t require absolute labels like “right” or “wrong.” I get to grant myself progress and patience and that glorious status of “enough.” I hope you take the blank slates I present to you and make it your ‘enough.’