Sunday, May 3, 2009

On teaching myself to knit (Harry Potter-themed scarf)

In preparation for the talks I'm giving at a Harry Potter conference this summer, I've been delivering shorter talks at Potterdelphia's monthly meetings, including April's about reading the series as the mother of a one-year-old.

I've also given in to the knitting craze that is widespread throughout Potter fandom. Knitting is mentioned frequently in the books, and many fans knit scarves, socks, and sweaters such as the ones that appear in the series. I decided to teach myself knitting through such a scarf, in queer-themed rainbow colors, the whole 10" x 70" length in garter stitch for discipline and practice.

As human nature would have it, I quickly lost interest in unvarying garter stitch. Sort of reminded me of being 7 years old and having to play interminable Hanon finger exercises every day before anything melodic or fun. Once I gave myself permission to experiment with different stitches, my speed and eagerness picked up dramatically. I kept wanting to do another row, and another, to see how the pattern would resolve.

I thought, oh, this is like writing. Word by word, stitch by stitch, line by line, patiently, until the motifs come around and build on each other and repeat until you can see the picture, and whether it works. I never thought this in my 19 years of quiltmaking because quiltmaking isn't linear. The construction of quilts is always modular, with lots of diagonal thinking, even if what you're making involves rows. You can work on something for a long time and then have a sudden moment when the project moves into the next phase, all comes together, pays off. But working a rectangular scarf row by row is a lot more like writing a story.


  1. looks like this will make a fabulous scarf, and i love the comparison between knitting and writing.

  2. That's going to be a fantastic scarf!

  3. I was so excited to see you on the list of Azkatraz Programming!!! I did a double-take when I saw your name, read the blurbs, and said to myself, yep, those are by the Lorrie I know :D

    Liz P. BMC 1993