It starts with the most lovely of roving, a cloud of Coopworth wool studded with silken jewels. Whir, whir, whir, whir chants the spinning wheel, revolving with such sensory joy that it’s a wonder the wheel and spinner alike do not levitate out of sheer meditative elation. The shimmering fibers slide through our fingers so effortlessly, practically spinning themselves. Fill a bobbin, then two, then three. Twist them together to yield a hearty, well-fed sort of yarn.
Now we begin the knitting. Let’s choose that pattern that we’ve coveted for awhile. (Katrine by Cecily Glowik MacDonald) Knit here, knit there, knit in Maine, knit, knit, knit. Set it aside for awhile and turn your attention to other things. Return to it when the chilly air prompts a renewed urgency. Allow yourself, as your fingers work the exquisite yarn into intricate knots, to mentally pull together the shirt and pants that will accompany the finished sweater on its debut – tomorrow, maybe? Imagine, if you dare, the silky softness of sweater-on-skin. Revel in the polished gleam of the perfect buttons, salvaged from a polyester heap of a vintage coat. Reflect on how lovely the entire process has been, though long. Such is the work of wool.
When we try it on, you and I, we find it a bit big, but not terribly so. We notice how it’s a bit bumpy too, in that just-came-off-the-needles normal way. Let’s be Responsible Knitters and block it, shall we?
Block, block, block. Dry by the fire. Put on aforementioned shirt, pants. It’s time. Put. It. On.
It can’t be. No. It’s not possible. Has it grown? It now fits like a sweater jacket, falling to just above our knees, the cowl neck more like a hood. Flashback to the Alpaca Grudge Sideways Monstrosity Hat, that heartbreaking lesson in Alpaca Fibers and How they Grow and Become Misshapen Like Magic. Where have we gone wrong?
Of course we know we have one. last. hope. It’s both the gift and the curse of wool. We can always try shrinking it just…so. Felting is an all-encompassing Wonder of the World, is it not? It can bestow salvation or demise; the secret is in the timing. Not fools, us, we set a timer when we throw it into the washing machine, with more than a little apprehension as we weigh the potential outcomes. This could blow the whole damn thing, we reckon. Or it could save it. But what choice do we have? As it is, it’s Clown Big, so oversized to be of joke proportions. Set the timer and hope for the best.
Shitty timer. Who even heard the thing go off? Raise your head with a start, stop whatever you’re doing and run, no – RUN to the washer. It’s currently locked, water-thrifty frontloader it is, of course it is, so stop it. How? How the hell should I know? Try this. No, this. Ok, waiting. Open up, dammit, and stop agitating my wool you motherf&^%$#. Shriek!! Open! Up!
Walk away. The washer is frozen now, locked into some timed sequence of excruciatingly-slow dance steps that only make sense to the programmer of such nonsense. Let’s just walk away. We know when we’ve been beat.
And there we have it. The nearly-finished Children’s Size 7 thick-and-warm sweater jacket. I shall line it with some pale blue satiny what-not from my stash and bestow it upon the Girl I so wisely gestated seven years ago (The New Step 1 of Making This Sweater) and carefully grew into the precise dimensions of the felted garment. She needed a Transitional Season jacket; now she’s got it. And she may be the luckiest, most chic 7-year-old in the whole history of knitting.
S o n o f a g u n.