• Elizabeth Newton

Growing Our Graces All Year Long

Updated: Feb 28, 2018

I have launched my little Ravelry pattern store during the slow season for knitting. Summer. Knitters often put their needles down completely (not touched!) until the return of cooler autumn weather. However, I for one do not want to miss out on time … for making things. I have always continued to knit all summer, often slowly, sometimes in front of a fan and mostly (mostly!) I have selected small, lightweight projects for summer needlework. I would miss knitting too much if I put it aside for two to three months! I would miss handling the yarn, looking at the fabric as it grows on the needles, and thinking! Thinking of the yarn in my hands, of what I will knit in the future, and thinking of what I will design! Process and production are so very important to me. How did I get to be so certain of knitting around the year?

Like so many people, I am a self-taught knitter. I actually knit for a while before I realized the enormous scope and intricacy that knitting possesses. At the beginning, I had no clue, how many (very many!) well-established techniques exist in a knitter’s toolbox. With each new project, I was reading about those techniques, learning more (with pleasure!), and I came to realize the complexities of knitting. This continuous learning process has become a very compelling activity for me. I am engaged, fascinated, and absorbed in knitting craft! I have concluded that if I keep knitting all the time then I will likely be … always going ahead in the craft. Going ahead is exactly what I desire. So I want no breaks from knitting due to warmer weather.

Actually, I have still another reason to … keep knitting all year long. I expect that I will begin to forget what I have learned if I take time off from knitting. The words going ahead come specifically to my mind because I have a favorite newspaper article written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie books. Wilder wrote for the Missouri Ruralist between 1911 and 1918. The title of the article is Are You Going Ahead? It begins as follows.

“’I cannot stand still in my work. If I do not keep studying and going ahead, I slip back,’ said a friend the other day.

“Well, neither can I in my work, I thought. My mind kept dwelling on the idea. Was there a work that one could learn to do with a certain degree of excellence, and then keep that perfection without a ceaseless effort to advance?

“How easy and delightful life might be if we could do this, if when we had attained the position we wished we might rest on our oars and watch the ripples on the stream of life.”

In the article, Wilder gives examples such as a person playing piano who through regular practice keeps what she already has, and keeps improving from day to day and from year to year. On the other hand, there is a singer who used to sing so much, and had a lovely voice, and admits to the author that she was so busy she had no time to practice. She seemed to be losing her voice. Another example is that of a person who “completed her education”, settled down to housework, read very little, and no longer gave the impression of an educated person. The point was that she lost what she had. Wilder’s article reads, “Refusing to go ahead, she has dropped back.”

Wilder wrote, “Our graces are either growing or shrinking. It seems to be a law of nature that everything and every person must move along. There is no standing still. The moment growth stops, decay sets in.

“One of the great safeguards against becoming old is to keep growing mentally, you know.

“If we do not strive to gain we lose what we already have, for just so surely as ‘practice makes perfect’, the want of practice or the lack of exercise of talents and knowledge makes for the opposite condition.”

Does this apply to your knitting?

The article referenced is found in the book, Laura Ingalls Wilder; A Family Collection, published by Barnes & Noble Books in 1993.

Swatch using Blacker Yarns Lyonesse, 4 ply 50% Falklands Wool, 50% Linen, in Dark Pearl