Saturday, November 29, 2014

401 Knitting

For those of you who live in this part of Canada, "the 401" is unhappily familiar. It's the long leg of multi-lane highway stretching from Montreal to Toronto and beyond in both directions. It's both very boring, and very dangerous, the latter in part because of the former. It's dead straight for horribly long stretches, with no views of anything other than wilderness, farms, and (especially near Toronto) industrial wasteland. Most of it is too far inland for anything but occasional swift glances at Lake Ontario. It carries far too much heavy truck traffic, pretty much everyone speeds, and at this time of the year it's prone to sudden snow squalls that can send vehicles into multi-car pileups.
My current knitting project is like the 401. It's dead boring, with only 58 stitches per row and no shaping at all. But at the same time, it's dangerous in a subversive sort of way. Every row is an "action" row; there are no "purl back" rows, so one's attention must always be on high alert. It's anti-social knitting. No possibility of conversations, no audiobooks that require close attention, certainly no Netflix or TV other than perhaps some soothing David Attenborough documentary. But because it's so relentlessly boring, the mind wanders, and suddenly, poof, you find you've made some stupid mistake that requires half an hour of picking out umpteen "purl through the back loops" to get things back on track.
Is all this pain worth it? I'm hopeful that it is.

Every now and then, in fact, I flirt with the possibility of leaving this piece completely unblocked, so taken am I with the astounding texture.
In a blast of perversity from Mother Nature, a dusting of snow arrived right after my last blog post about there being no snow. Just decorative, and it'll probably be gone within 48 hours. The best kind of snow.

Finally, are you a mystery reader? Then surely you will have read about the passing of the great P.D. James. Elizabeth Renzetti's insightful comments in this morning's Globe are worth reading. In particular, I like this quote from James:

“The underlying message [of mysteries] is that no matter how difficult problems are in life – in your own life or in the life of a country or society – in the end they can always be solved, not by divine intervention or good luck, but by human intelligence, human courage, human perseverance.”

I think, in a very, very small way, knitting appeals for some of those same reasons, not so much in the courage area, but certainly in the realm of problem solving through intelligence and perseverence. We are reassured that something in our lives is solvable and beautiful. On which note, I'm going back now to persevere with my boring, dangerous, project.