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  • Writer's pictureLihong

Why I knit

I picked up knitting a year ago, in a dimly lit café called Cafe 60 in Stockholm. Sarah was my teacher. On hindsight, it was not the best place to learn knitting. I could not see well, kept making mistakes. I was making a headband - nice easy project for beginners. Yet I had to cast on more than ten times before getting going, the needles fiddly in my fingers. At that time, it was more about keeping me occupied. I was bored, not used to the long endless summer days in Sweden with nothing to do. I was on proper vacation. But I still needed to be productive somehow. Sarah knows me well.

I love learning how to do something from a friend. I could probably learn it on youtube, but learning it from a friend, being present and learning it their way, that's special for me. There's beauty in learning a technique that they learnt from someone they loved too, their mother, their grandmother, which they've made their own. There's a story in that.

I am known for jumping levels. skipping stages and making mistakes precisely because of that, but always doing it. I childishly think the regular rules of lea

rning don't necessarily apply to me. It's probably part cockiness, part impatience. So after the headband, I started a project that was to take two months. I knitted a Dalek. Exterminate, exterminate.

My guilty pleasure is sitting in bed, watching a series and knitting at the same time. Knitting does give me lots of pains. I get shoulder aches, a compressed spine (if I sit in bed too long). Still, I want to start a new project immediately after I finish an old one. Knitting is exciting to me, watching the project grow...I know people think of it as a boring hobby, for old ladies who need to pass the time. Sure, it's true, it's a very slow activity. And with the kind of urban corporate lifesty

le I have these days, it can sometimes be a welcome punctuation in the mad rush of activities that is my daily. But more than just an activity to slow myself down, each project was born at a time that signifies something, or my desire to give to someone else a gift of my affection, crystallised in that piece that took time and effort.

Även i den minsta gåva måste du ha viljan att ge allt. - Dag Hammarskjöld.

Even in the smallest gift must you have the desire to give everything.

Knitting taught me patience. Obviously, because knitting is about painstakingly making a piece of fabric from nothing. But it also taught - and still teaches - me that you can correct mistakes.

You can go back and unstitch a knit stitch and make it a purl. As in real life, the longer you leave the mistake, the harder it is to correct. Sometimes I have just left the mistake in there, accepting I made it and it's a part of the finished item now. Emma-Sofie, the recipient of my first Dalek, loves it including the mistakes.

Because of the time taken to complete a project, I am often not in the same state of mind at the start of the project and at the end. A project embodies the change in me, in the world around me. It holds memories in its stitches, memories for the maker, memories for the receiver. Some memories are bittersweet, but when you cast off the last stitch, you acknowledge that the memories don't need to cling anymore. Time to move forward and put on that knitted scarf, or give away the toy.

Like Plato said, You never step in the same river twice; You are not the same person and the river is not the same.

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