27 August 2010

Lost Pattern

It's raining today. And I've got a rotten head cold. So, instead of doing the headless-chicken impression that I had planned on for today (a.k.a. cleaning the house), I'm just going to do not-much-of-anything. I pulled out my knitting again, because to me, knitting is a bit of a not-much-of-anything activity. Stitch after stitch after stitch, bit by bit- it's a very inefficient way to produce clothing. But as a meditation technique it has a lot going for it.

Here's a project I've had on the needles for some time. It's meant to be a pair of slippers when it's finished. A number of simple squares in garter stitch, attached to each other, rather like a scarf with a couple of extra pieces sticking out the sides. Then there's supposed to be some rather complicated bit of folding-and-sewing trickery, attaching the corner of square number one to the edge of square number three-and-a-half and so on, and you're meant to end up with something that keeps your toes toasty.

The only problem is that I've lost the pattern. I found it in a library book, and copied it out by hand on a piece of paper- I even drew the picture of how it's supposed to look, and coloured it in with felt pens. I returned the book, knitted the first slipper (but didn't sew it together yet)- and then lost the paper. It just went AWOL. And for the life of me I can't remember what the book was called. So I know how to knit the piece- I can just follow the pattern of the first one- but I have no idea how it's meant to be finished any more.

A lost pattern. But the project is still going. And working on it like that, without knowing if I'll ever be able to really finish it, rather emphasises the zen aspect of the whole experience. I'm knitting for the sake of knitting, not for the sake of having finished slippers to wear at the end. It's quite a useful discipline.

Isn't it also rather like life, in some ways? We're doing things a certain way because once, we had a pattern for it, we had a goal. Now the pattern is lost, but we still carry on doing it the same way, because now the aim of doing it has changed. Now I knit because I enjoy the sensation of the yarn sliding through my fingers, the slow rhythm of the needles poking, looping, clicking, poking again.

Actually, in the back of my mind, I still hope, faintly, that I'll find that book again. Or that someone will know the pattern, and can tell me. Or that, in experimenting with the finished pieces, I'll remember how it was supposed to go. So in working on that piece of knitting, I work on hope. Not anticipation- just a vague thought that maybe I'll be able to finish this after all. But I won't worry about it now. For now, I'll just stitch. Bit by bit. Whenever I feel like it, or I have a head cold.

Life, the universe, lost patterns, and hope. I'll let you know if the slippers ever get finished.


  1. Are those called Norwegian house slippers? I had the pattern ( a friend gave it to me) then when I went to do the folding I realized that I had spilled something on the pattern and could no longer read it. My slippers are just waiting until I finally think to ask my husband (who is much better than I at figuring out such things) if he can fold them up into a slipper like shape so that I can felt them. You used to be able to see a little video online on how to fold them but not sure if it is still available.

  2. I found this pattern via Ravelry - http://www.garnstudio.com/lang/en/visoppskrift.php?d_nr=s12&d_id=41&lang=en
    These slippers are made from squares and there's a diagram showing how to sew them together. Does that help?

  3. Hah, I thought that might bring the knitters among you out of the woodwork! :)
    Nicola, that one is slightly different, because the squares are attached in different spots. Mine has the squares sticking out on the same side. But the end result is supposed to look the same, I think, so I'll save this one and go from there! Thanks!

  4. Heather, check out the link Nicola sent. Even if your pattern is a bit different, you could show that picture to your husband and get him to figure it out from there. The tricky (kind of non-intuitive) bit about that pattern is that the pieces over and under the toes fold quite differently than the rest. They kind of stretch to shape (you couldn't fold that pattern in paper, it needs stretchiness to work).
    Thanks again, Nicola!