Pattern: Graham by Jennifer Adams
Yarn: Dream In Color Classy (100% superwash merino), colorway Cocoa Kiss
Needles: U.S. 5 (for ribbing) & 7 Zephyr acrylic Options 36″ circular (magic loop)
As 2012 drew to a close, I was craving pleasure in my yarn. What knitters call “yumminess.” The kind of sensual experience in the hands, on the needles, and in the stitch pattern that feels almost too luxurious to be called work. I took two beautiful skeins of yarn on our post-Christmas trip to the barrier islands of Georgia, and as we were waiting for the plane to whisk us there, I cast on with the worsted weight hand-dyed merino. The kind of substantial yet buttery yarn that the snow we’d left behind seemed to call for.
Almost every second that I wasn’t at the beach, gathering shells and spotting birds with Cady Gray, I had this hat in my hand, knitting inside out in broken rib and admiring the waffle-ish texture developing on the opposite side of the fabric. I started the decreases the day before we left, and found I had miscounted my cast-on, forcing me to improvise an extra set. But by the time we got on the plane for the first leg of the trip home, I was in the rhythm, and didn’t even need to cross off the row-by-row instructions during the flight.
I sat a row back from Noel and the kids, next to a young man in the middle seat who put his head down and politely asked me to get water from the attendant when she came by for drink orders. I couldn’t tell if he were feeling poorly or not. But as I knit the last stitches and used my needles to draw the tail through them, one by one, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to give him the hat. I had no recipient in mind; in color, texture, and shape it was perfect for a young man; and with his lanky frame and longish blond hair, I thought he’d be the type to wear a hat well. He broke into a huge smile, and told me how much it would be appreciated during the cold Chicago winter as he completed his poetry degree at DePaul. I just had a chance to snap a few pictures with his permission (and Instagram one covertly during deplaning, the top one of this post) before the hat was gone forever, off to its connection somewhere else in the Nashville airport.
I began the hat with the aim of my own enjoyment. I ended it with the aim of a holiday surprise, something completely unexpected that might brighten the day of a chance acquaintance. The pleasure I wanted to extract from the process of knitting became, in the end — and not without a twinge of regret for the loss of the material object and its potential value as souvenir, gift, or fundraising item — inextricable from the impulse to create with it an indelible moment and a connection between people thrown together in their travels. I hope somewhere Walker, the young man who received the hat, is warm and full of hope for the new year.