It all started when I was 10 years old. My mother said it so often that I knew what her response would be before I even asked, but I persisted anyway: “Lori, when you grow up you can wear any color of nail polish you want, but until then, it’s clear only.” I pledged then that the minute I grew up, (whenever that was), I would have a rainbow of colors on my fingers and toenails. I would especially have pink and purple for sure! I could hardly wait to grow up and introduce color into my life.
In my late twenties I had myself a husband, 2 kids, and a dog. We even got ourselves a house. “I’m all grown up, so let’s paint the house,” I said to my husband.
Now my husband is a laid back, whatever-you-want kind of guy. With a relaxed smile he replied, “Great! You pick the paint. Choose anything but PINK!” A scowl flickered on my face, but off I went, determined to choose the most perfect color for the interior of our new home.
To this day my husband maintains that the color called, Dusty Rose, is a code name for pink. I disagreed heartily. “It’s not pink,” I asserted, “it’s a tone… a palette really that’s quite different from pink, it’s… well… it’s dusty.” Once we applied Dusty Rose to the walls, and put up curtains made to match, (after all it was the 80s), John somehow remained married to me. To this day, though, he always accompanies me to the paint store, and we never look at any swatches with the slightest hue of dust or rose (code name: pink).
You’re probably wondering by now what this has to do with knitting? Well, as a late to the party kind of gal (I began knitting in my early 50s), I started off with socks. I realize that the primary attraction to knitting socks is the beautiful selection of colorful wool that beckons me. A plethora of colors: Orange blossom, Jewel, Peacock, Solar Flare, Cosmic Night, Iris, and Popsicle call out to me. How can anyone possibly resist? Besides, the admiration, one might almost call it, reverence, that I receive from my husband is undeniable. John watches me in the evening as the patterns in the ball of self-striping wool play out into the shape of a sock. “How do you do it?” he asks with stunned amazement. “How do you create such a complex pattern?” I smile modestly, “Oh, the mathematical formulations to perfect such a design would be beyond you,” I say casually to my numerically minded husband. “To create a replication of this pattern in not only one, but two socks, represents the most advanced calculations.” John offers a perplexed nod and returns his gaze to the TV screen. It remains a closely guarded secret.
When COVID-19 arrived on this continent in early 2020, and self-isolation imposed, I decided that I should embrace the opportunity to try my hand at color work patterns. I had already surpassed the advanced computations for producing socks, so what’s not to like about choosing my own colors for a sweater, accompanied by a complex chart. “I’m making a sweater for Baby James,” I announce to John on Day #2 of the pandemic. “I’ve already got the wool: grey as a base color with a combination of turquoise and purple.” John gave me a distracted smile as he bent over his computer, contemplating how to redirect his business from office to home. I, however, was on a mission to create the most beautiful baby sweater ever!
My joy for knitting with multiple strands of wool shone through immediately. I loved looking at the chart, contemplating when to use a specific color, and interweaving vibrant colors of wool to create something uniquely my own. I could hardly wait for the inaugural reveal on the baby, so I threw myself into the project, embracing the lack of interruptions associated with isolation. Upon completion, I eagerly dropped the sweater off. Send me a picture ASAP, I text.
Enter Knitting for a Baby
A picture speaks a thousand words, but I need only a few words to describe the anguish on our little Sweet Potato’s face. The sweater was obviously not a hit with him, and now my face looked like the distraught infant. Okay, never mind, I think to myself. I’ll make a sweater for our 4-year-old granddaughter. She likes pink, I’ll use that. I dive into my stash, pulling out the prettiest pinks I can find (her favourite color). I assemble them, take a picture, and enthusiastically send it off in a text to my daughter: What do you think?
My phone dings within 5 minutes. Sorry mom. She says she doesn’t like wearing sweaters anymore. My face falls and I look like the baby again. But how can a 4-year-old give up on sweaters already? I reply, adding a foot stomp for good measure.
Enter Knitting for Myself
“That’s it!” I say out loud. “I’m making myself a color work sweater and I’ll LOVE it!”
I race to my stash, and like a squirrel digging for acorns, I frantically claw my way through it. The wool store is closed, but mine is open, and I find exactly what I need.
It should come as no surprise that my favorite colors are in abundance in my stash. I reach for the balls that are sitting up straight, begging for freedom from the box labelled, “Christmas Decorations,” (a secret ops tactic I picked up from my knitting group), to conceal my treasures from probing questions by non-knitters. I then log into Ravelry and there it is, Hinterland, by Jennifer Steingass. I grab my circular needles, and at last I find the calm that I so desperately seek.
That Sweater and a Revelation
For the record, the sweater is almost complete, but not quite. It lacks one sleeve, but considering that my hot flashes rage out of control, I’m thinking of leaving the long sleeve/no sleeve look. Perhaps I’ll start a trend for post-menopausal women, or a versatile sweater for summer and fall?
Regardless, the sweater with the pink and purple color work makes my heart sing.
And in case you’re wondering, the hand in the picture is also my own. Turns out that when I grew up, I actually preferred clear nail polish after all. Go figure!
ABOUT THE Author: Lori McIntyre
Lori McIntyre is a retired primary school teacher who lives in Canada. She has a passion for writing and knitting, both of which occur daily, but not at the same time.
Since becoming a knitter, Lori has developed an obsession for hoarding all types of wool, purchasing numerous sets of needles that she already has, and ripping out more projects and beginning again, than she cares to count.
Lori has stashes of wool hidden throughout the house, and only buys wool with cash in order to protect her husband from future cardiac issues.