Five thousand years ago back in February of 2020, I ordered a Harriet Tubman themed yarn collaboration box curated by Lady Dye Yarns. It featured beautiful hand dyed yarn, a button with the Tubman quote “Every great dream begins with a dreamer,” a pocket constitution, a box of Girl Scout cookies (thin mints!), some green tea, digital pattern download for Harriet Tubman wrist cuffs from JimiKnits, and arrived in April.
Much changed between when I ordered the box and when I found it on my doorstep (a few days after the obligatory “sorry for the Covid delay” email from Lady Dye Yarns). To wit: when I first saw the box for sale, Eric and I had been thinking about a weekend or overnight trip along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway here in Maryland. It had crossed my mind that the wrist cuffs could be my car trip knitting project. Needless to say, we tossed aside our mediocre-laid plans.
I just finished the wrist cuffs for Ms7yoZ (well, minus the blocking, because she’s been too excited to wear them. Yes, wool wrist cuffs in 90 plus degree weather. She’s mostly wearing them inside in the air conditioning, though, and I think it makes her feel like a superhero, especially when she’s typing away on the computer, as she usually is these days in either chat rooms or working on her book. Writers wearing wrist cuffs is a thing.)
The pattern for these wrist cuffs are a curving and complex (for such a small space as a 7yo’s slender wrist!) series of cables. I’m currently casting on the first of a pair for Ms10yoA. (The younger sister loved the purple-forward colorful skein that came in the box, but the older one requested a silver yarn.) This is a sure sign of a well-written, enjoyable, challenging yet satisfying pattern: the desire to do it all over again right away.
So what makes this, or any pattern worthy of repeat or what kind of pattern makes me search out the designer’s other patterns as I did with this one? In this case, the pattern was given twice in two different ways (a chart and then written out). I used the chart and didn’t even have to refer to the second way because it all flowed. And it worked. The pattern worked. I ended up producing the wrist cuffs shown in the picture (ok: honestly, I made two small mistakes in the cabling, but that was on me not being attentive and being too lazy to go back and fix it).
At the end of the day, a good pattern writer is also a good teacher. They don’t take for granted that the person reading their pattern knows everything that they know. In this case, the designer included small tips like where to use stitch markers and links to videos that show some of the more unusual techniques used.
I know that I’m in the middle of a really satisfying pattern and project when there are moments of intense, focused concentration on the pattern itself punctuated by moments of, “Oh! This is working! I really am getting this!” Afterwards, I’ll step back and look at the project and kind of marvel that someone else created this and then, even though I’ve never met this person in real life and with a minimal of words and tools, their design went from their mind onto paper, traveled to me, and then, looking at nothing but this piece of paper, my hands created what they had in their minds, exactly. Honestly: it can feel like a small miracle. Or, at the very least, it gives me a slight feeling of awe at human beings’ ability (and desire) to create and connect beyond the superficial.
The children have this board game called “Gnomes at Night” in which each of the two players see two different sides of a maze. They have to work together to collect different items in the mazes: basically describing what they see on their side of the board to direct their teammate to move through the maze that they can’t see. It’s super fun and cooperate and challenging. And it creates this similar feeling of the joy in the task is in successfully communicating what you have in your mind to another person.
It’s magical! And fun.
I’ve been making a few stop motion videos over the past months. In fact, one of the early ones that I made was a mini unpacking video of the Harriet Tubman box from Lady Dye Yarns.
My apologies for the quality, it was my first one, I think.
I posit that part of the appeal to stop motion video (to me at least) is the way in which they communicate the idea or story in such a way that there is clearly a human creator. We know that a human mind and hands had to be involved in conceiving and making it but we never see that human or those hands. (And I’ve heard more than once lately that human hands or non-physically distanced bodies, even on a video, are making viewers squeamish and uneasy these days.) If you’re like me, you’re drawn to and discovering all the myriad ways in which humans connect with each other in non-physical ways these days. And you’re finding a depth to these communications deeper than you previously thought possible. Cheers to that!