Things have been so busy that there’s probably been less knitting in my life over the last month than at any other time in my adult life. The irony of this isn’t lost on me. This blog is called Knit Potion for a reason. I truly believe you could substitute knitting for meditation in the old Zen proverb that advises, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”
Alas, I know it, but I haven’t managed to do it. I knit, but instead of finishing projects, I finish rows. The simple Hitchhiker I started weeks ago is still on my needles. My argyle pillow is still an idea. My Inlet cardigan, sans sleeves.
Enter Shirley Yeung, the incomparable maker, thinker, and writer behind Handmade Habit. In an absolutely enchanting blog post, Shirley talked about the Knit Together Project and shared the story behind her own beautiful blanket square. She also encouraged others to participate.
The requirements are that the 8”x8” square be knit from fiber that has special significance for you and then mailed to the project’s mastermind, Melissa of Knitting the Stash. Melissa will be seaming the squares together into a blanket that will eventually go to one of the people who’ve contributed a square.
On some level I must have known that participating in a project like this would be just the dose of knit potion I needed. It made me start thinking about the extra special yarns in my stash, and that got me thinking about all of the incredible fiber friends I’ve made since we moved to Tennessee four years ago. Among these is our dear friend Marcia Kummerle. I’ve written about Marcia many times, including here and here. She’s also known as Good Fibrations.
Besides being one of the nicest people I know, Marcia is an inspired dyer with a direct link to the color gods (check out the red yarn at the bottom of this post). Last year, she created two new colorways, “Deep Forest” and “Ode to the Hemlocks.” The story behind them struck a deep personal chord, and I’d like to briefly tell you why as a way of telling you about my blanket square.
The eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) grows everywhere in the Smoky Mountains. We live on close to 35 acres of forest, and they are thick on our property. These trees can grow to be over 150 feet high and nearly 6 feet around. Some of the ones in our area are over 500 years old. Many species of birds nest in their branches. Flying squirrels live in and feed around them. And they help keep the forest floor and mountain streams cool. The day we moved into our house, I hugged one. I didn’t know what it was then, but it called to me, and I loved it.
I’ve since learned that this amazing tree is in trouble. It’s being attacked by a non-native insect called the hemlock woolly adelgid. An article on the Scientific American blog, “Hemlock Extinction Looms Over the Tennessee Forests,” offers a succinct account of the situation. The New Yorker’s “A Death in the Forest” takes a more in-depth look at things. It’s not good.
So Marcia’s yarn . . . A year-and-a-half ago or so, Marcia visited a favorite hiking spot for the first time in many years. She couldn’t get over the sense that something was strikingly different. It took her awhile, but by the end of the hike, she had come to realize that what was different was the light. There was too much of it. The hemlocks that had earlier blanketed the forest floor in cool deep greens were gone, and the new forest appeared as shades of brown. The character of the visible forest had entirely changed. It was in response to this experience that Marcia created the colorway “Deep Forest,” a memory of the forest that was, and “Ode to the Hemlocks,” an acknowledgement of the forest that is increasingly becoming the norm in this area.
Because this yarn comes from Marcia’s goats . . .
Because Marcia created the colorways as a testament to the shocking change that is taking place in our forest, literally outside my door . . .
Because I believe that somehow noticing and telling and creating in response to this event means something . . .
I decided to knit my blanket square in Marcia’s yarn. Viewed head-on the square is stripes of then and now.
Viewed from another perspective, the deep green of the hemlock forest remains intact.
I’d originally planned to have the green show up as a tree shape, but in the end it seemed more fitting to knit a circle. My thought was that though we might not see it now and we might not know the exact shape it will take, nature will find a way back to wholeness. So far at least, it always has.
Thank you so much, Melissa, for thinking of this project and shepherding it along. And thank you, Shirley, for brining it to my attention and encouraging me to participate. Here’s to knitters. And to the hemlocks.
Check out woollythoughts.com for lots of great info on illusion knitting! My circle is a modification of one of their simplest patterns. Many of the others are stunning in their complexity.