The art of crafting BIG throws

The art of crafting BIG throws

From school to college to medical school to marriage to parenthood to professionals to becoming successful women of the world—and the friendship remained. It went through the angst of comparisons, of trying to be better than the other at studies, looks ( she won hands down there), boyfriends ( you guessed right, she won there too), future plans (hmmmm…). But the bond grew as distance plunked itself between us. In separate continents, we both found the Net and the joy of emails. It was good to discover the comfort of having someone to share the ups and downs of life, the brilliant and the boring bits of family, and thoughts on living, commenting and laughing at ourselves, others and the world in general.
Years passed by and our weekly emails continued to spin a basket of words around us. I returned to India, and caught the bug of knitting and crafting. I would badger her for some nice yarn and of course, she would oblige immediately. In a fit of gratitude and love, I offered to knit her anything she would like—anything, anything at all! Practical gal that she is, no wearable object was desired. When you live in one heated space and travel to the next heated space in a heated car, you don’t need bulky fat sweaters and mufflers to smother you. She however, talked of going to watch her son play a match, and how there were these parents sitting with lovely hand-crafted throws on their legs. It would be so, so good to have something like that, something warm and unique, something which would be around long after the sons have stopped playing outdoor matches.
That was just the hint I needed…Off went Mala to the British Council Library in Delhi, out came all the knitting books in the library and at home. Designs were pored over, notes made, head scratched, pencils chewed and all for the big search project–for the right yarn, the right pattern and the right combination of class and craft. So many things to be finalized, starting from the size. Every throw and afghan design had a different finished measurement, every book seemed to revel in confusion and no two chosen patterns confirmed to the same length and breadth.
That didn’t deter me from deciding to make a throw of my imagined “right” size. I imagined my friend and her husband sitting together in the cold North American evening..Wide open ground…match going on and on, with both sides kicking the ball around in a frenzy. Size therefore, had to be long enough to cover both their laps, and then gently drape the sides too. Since this was a tall couple, with long legs, the throw had to be wide enough to cover long femurs and the rest of the legs. And it was always a good idea to make things larger and roomier, than small and stretchy. Hah! famous last words!
A bright chevron pattern, to be knit lengthwise, was the chosen one. Too optimistic and too arrogant to even think of making a gauge swatch ( to figure out how many stitches would make up an inch of the article and therefore, being reasonably sure of getting the size right), I just cast on 300 stitches on a long knitting needle and began the pattern. Each row took hours to complete. Since 300 stitches were stuffed onto the knitting needle, it looked like I was knitting a frilled skirt for a seven year old cherubic girl. I kept knitting, though a loud questioning voice kept echoing in my head, “do you think this is too long? Do you think you have enough yarn? Do you think it will be a nice pattern? Is the color looking good?”. Ignore warning voices and keep at the job– that was me alright!
I knit all the yarn, and it was just a ten inch frill when the last ball exhausted itself. And yes, by then, I had moved to another city. No sign of the earlier yarn, but this resourceful knitter decided that contrasts are in—contrasting color and contrasting texture is so good for the human soul! From sunshine yellow, we moved to 16 inches of stony brown and I would have added another 12 inches, but summer was on us and there was no yarn to be found in any of my favorite shops.
After casting off all those stitches jostling and pushing each other, I realized that I had this 10 feet by 3 feet (on stretching) throw. It looked very, very peculiar, but it seemed just right to wrap three of them…after all, one son would be playing at a time. The other son could sit next to his parents and ALL three of them could be covered with that long throw. Oh yes, only the femurs and a bit of their knees would be covered, but think of the bonding times, etc etc…A classic example of my knitting running away with my brains and commonsense.
That large, bulky package was sent across the seven seas to my friend; with a note explain the technical issues of how a long, long scarf would be good for football games and my take on bonding .
And this is what good friends are all about. She thanked me with love and warmth, she commented on the time it would have taken to knit that long and narrow throw and she held her peace.
And that, my dear readers, is where the journey of throws and afghans began. I have no pictures of that monstrosity with me, which, on hindsight, seems like a good thing. Just looking at that yellow and brown confection would make me throw away my knitting tools, hide in a dark room and meditate on the black hole and other such bottomless pits.
I have come a long, long way since that throw…but I know that the yellow and brown creation will live on forever in my mind, will feature in the stories I will share with other knitters and non-knitters, and remain a steady beam of remembrance in the shifting mists of memory loss and gain.

  1. From humble beginnings come great things. The pink and yellow throw in the picture is lovely. I get loads of compliments on the purple one-armed throw, the deep blue poncho and the giant patchwork throw we brought home from the hills. So thank you!

  2. Shibani, your next visit needs to be done with almost-empty-bags, so that you can take back a lot more of Kumaon with you!

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