A most interesting atrophy

I was working on a swatch of my Briar Rose yarn last night. Nothing fancy, just a 4×4″ stockinette square. I knit a row, then turned it around and purled a row, then knit a row, then turned it around and purled a row. I know, the excitement is just keeping you on the edge of your seat.

After the next knit row, some long-forgotten muscle memory in my hands woke up from a long slumber. Instead of turning the the piece in my hands, I started to purl it off the right-hand needle. This was a technique that I started doing years ago when working stockinette, and when I stopped paying attention to what I was doing, my hands tried it again on their own.

I suddenly had a sensation that I think must be a very distant cousin to the sensation of waking up from a coma and finding that your muscles have atrophied. It wasn’t traumatic or anything like that, but my fingers didn’t remember how to purl fro. I hadn’t been thinking about the knitting and my left hand just tried to pick up the work off the right needle – but my right-hand fingers were completely lost. I fumbled the knitting and looked down at the work, surprised. I tried it again, and again my fingers were completely confused.

I stopped and took a breath and then thought it through very slowly, and very carefully wrapped the yarn with my right index finger and pulled it off to the left needle. My fingers seemed to remember the movements. I did it again. And again. I slowly worked across the row, purling without turning the work.

When I was done, I had an almost melancholy feeling of having found something I didn’t know I’d lost. But I remembered enough about the technique to start getting back on track.

“Heh. So that’s where I am”, I thought. And then I started getting back on track.

(Way too much drama for a swatch.)

5 Responses to “A most interesting atrophy”

  1. Kath Says:

    I’m guessing the humble swatch appreciates the unusual amount of attention and blog time!

    Purling off the right hand needle? I can’t wrap my head around that.

  2. minnie Says:

    kinda a metaphor forlife, eh?

  3. Jennigma Says:

    I had a similar thing early in my knitting, but from a much younger time. I was taught to knit by my gramma when I was 3, but after she died when I was 8 I never knit another stitch until my mid 30’s.

    When I started back up again, I laboriously taught myself using the stitch & bitch book, trying to adopt it to my lefty way of looking at the world. It was slow and painful (yes really!! RSI issues!!) and awkward.

    Then one day I was knitting a hat. And instead of picking up the yarn as to knit English style, I picked it up to knit Continental.

    It felt so much more natural, and I was immediately given this perfect memory of sitting under a beach umbrella with my gramma, in her lap, with her holding my hands and moving them through the stitches. I could hear the seagulls and the roar of the waves and see the bright bright sun on the sand and water.

  4. Lynn Says:

    Heh. I’m with Minnie.

  5. MARY Says:

    Hurray! David’s knitting again! Is this your Rhinebeck work? You got the Briar Rose there, right?