The satisfaction of completion is a particularly knitterly sort of pleasure. If it’s a good fit, there’s the added joy of seeing your creation clothing you or someone you love. I think it comes down to the way that your counting, measuring and fingerwork can transform a pile of uniform balls of fibre into something remarkable, warm, soft and loved. The intimate relationship we silently celebrate with our own knits has a lot to do with why we knit in the first place. This much I’ve known for some time now.
A more recent discovery for me has to do with the joy of other people’s knits getting finished. It’s about an unexpected relationship between me and my customers and their knitting, and I’m only starting to figure it out now. Given that the shop has only been open since April, it’s a bit ridiculous to use phrases like “in the beginning..” and “Now that I’ve been open for a while..” This is all still the very early days – I realise that. But nevertheless I have a sense of a newly emerging way with customers’ projects. In the beginning (there I go..) I always took a photo when a customer brought in their finished work. It seemed an obvious thing to do – a congratulatory portrait to celebrate the knitting triumph. If it goes well it might also generate ripples of applause from Facebook Likes and Retweets.
But now something else is happening – I’ve got more involved with the knitting. This goes beyond some vicarious enjoyment of seeing something finished. It’s got personal. And there’s a part of me that’s a bit embarrassed about that. After all it’s not mine. I’m the shopkeeper. My role is in selling the wool. And the sweater would have been just as lovely if it was made with wool bought up the road. At best I may also have had a hand in creative direction and technical suppport. But still it’s not my work, it’s the customer’s! And yet, when Saaqib came in and pulled his freshly finished circularly knitted raglan out of the bag, I felt the pride and thrill of someone much more involved than just the yarn supplier.
It’s as if there’s something else going on in this little shop – a productivity and industriousness, in which the creating of sweaters, cardies, blankets and bootees is generating an elixir of knitting joy. I wasn’t alone when Saaqib came in. Patricia was here deep in concentration, working out yarn quantities for a cable-yoked top, to see if there was enough of the cashmere alpaca blend horde she’d pulled out of the stash. And it was at her prompting that Saaqib bashfully pulled on his sweater. “Oooh, you really are a rather good knitter, aren’t you!”, cooed Patricia, which only served to brighten the beam in my smile. Saaqib explained how he’d conquered the intarsia panel in spite of knitting in the round, whilst maintaining his signature twisted knit stitch. It was indeed a triumph. Perhaps the balls of wool that dangle in my window obscured what was going on inside, for I felt sure if anyone glimpsed our little celebration of stitches, they would feel compelled to come and join in.