We’re at the beach for Labor Day, as is our wont. Other weekends vary, but we’re always here for Labor Day and July 4. Some concern it would be rainy, but instead it’s been hazy and very warm, just as you’d want it to be if you were going to swim off the coast of New England. I went in. As soon as you can’t feel your skin anymore, it’s a breeze.
Last night, I had my Snapdragon mitts out after dinner, and cast on for the second one, saying casually that I hoped I wouldn’t make the same mistakes I made on the first one. My husband’s grandmother, one of the great knitters in my life, turns out to be one of those people raised never to let a mistake stand in knitting, so she talked about the heartbreak of ripping back to fix something. I always thought I had relatively little tolerance for knitting mistakes myself, but it turns out I’m of the “if it’s too much trouble, and won’t show in the end, or can be fixed after, why bother” stripe. I’m also frequently inclined to make a third of something that’s normally a pair, if the second one comes out a lot better than the first. With a mitten, who cares. It’s another two evenings.
She’s making my baby a knitted intarsia Christmas stocking next, bless her. She’s eighty-six and arthritic, and I was sure that when my older son was born, she wouldn’t be able to make him a stocking (all of her children and grandchildren have them). But two years later, she presented him with one, saying that she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do it, but had drawn up all of the directions for me so that I could do it if she didn’t make it. Now she’s made one for the next great-grandchild, my husband’s cousin’s baby, and says she’s doing one for my second boy, and then the fourth great-grandchild, a girl. Four great-grandchildren. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe I’ve been with this family for nearly fifteen years. This is my fifteenth summer at the beach. It’s a little different every year, or seems like it should be, and yet, as though all of the people who are new here have always been here. It is a place of echoes.
I feel that way about my knitting sometimes. I finished the Budding shawlette in record time, and gave it to my sister for her birthday. It’s out in the world now. I don’t often feel attached to the things I knit. Not like I’d rather keep them for myself to prevent their coming to harm, anyhow. They’re just in my custody for a while, and then they’re off to be out there. I mean, I don’t think I’m giving them to people who then set them on fire, but sometimes knitting is more like getting yarn into a condition to be out in front of other people, as one does when raising children. Mistakes there may be, but off they go, nonetheless.