Posted on May 14, 2004 at 12:21 am


Last night, an old knitter appeared to me in my dream.

She motioned for me to approach with her large-knuckled fingers, while working a large mitered-corner fair-isle afghan square with a lacework border.  On 00’s.

She said to me in a conspiratorial whisper: "Come closer, my child.

"I am about to impart a great secret to you, for you have reached the point in your knitting when you have earned the right to this wisdom."

Then she lowered her voice further so that her words were barely audible, and said

"Swatching leads to no more certainty than not-swatching."

It was very still then, with only the faint click of her needles tickling the silence.  She leaned back, satisfied with the impact her words had on me. 

I protested weakly. "But. . ." I said.

"Ah.  You have proven so yourself!  Just look at the last two things you cast on for: Jaipur in Silky Wool, and the Tank in Zen.  Both of them would have been disasters had you proceeded past common sense.  Your swatches lied to you!"

"Yes, but. . ." I interjected.

"Yet, for Rogue, your swatch was perfect.  Exactly as the yarn label decreed, and the finished sweater adheres to the swatch’s rule." 

"Well, that’s true.  But I knew that would happen."

"Ahhhh." She seemed to be encouraging me further along in this idea, her eyes wide and glowing as if I were on the brink of something important.  Something like enlightenment.  "So, what does your heart tell you?" she asked as her second pair of hands emerged out from under the afghan, also furiously engaged in the knitting of the square.

"That. . ."I hesitated.  I was afraid for some reason.  "That. . ." but what was there to fear?  "That I probably know my knitting better than any ball band?  And that I can judge a yarn by now and can probably make a better guess at how I’ll be able to knit it to gauge than any technical editor in Yorkshire?"

She said nothing.  She just smiled.   And then I recognized her, something about the dark of her ears and the whiskers around her heavily kohled eyes.  She was Lucy!