Reading unraveled



I once started reading a book by Julian Barnes called “England, England” which I put down about half-way through. Unusual for me, since I rarely put down an unfinished book, unfinished sweater , or an unfinished sandwich. I like things to have a beginning a middle and, most importantly, an end. I love the beginning of a book or a sweater. It’s new and inspiring and, if it holds my interest for the first few pages or rows I’m usually hooked to the end. I have to see it through.  The middle is almost overlooked, it’s the stockinette body of a lace front cardigan, but it is also substance, the reason for the rest of it.  The end is bittersweet. I want to finish and have a complete story or a new cardigan but, by the time I get to the point where I have the end in sight I’ve come to love the characters (and the yarns) I’m working with, even the difficult ones. I sort-of hate to see them go.

Occasionally, I’ll start a new knit project, a sweater or even something smaller, and I’ll just get it cast on when I realize it’s not what I expected or my mood has changed and I’d rather do something else but these revelations happen pretty quickly. With books, it’s the same. I might be drawn in by a flashy cover or a good review but if I’m not interested in the content I’ll usually know within the first couple of pages. That wasn’t the case with “England, England”. I was interested from the get-go. And I happen to really like this author too, so I’m not sure why I put the book aside but, like a WIP that I’d really like to wear, I know I had every intention of going back to it.  I didn’t.  The book got lost in the shuffle of moving some time ago but I’m sure it’s still around here somewhere. I just can’t find it.

I could go get another copy or go to the library and check it out but the truth is I’m not sure I want to finish it now. I just want it finished, if you see what I mean.

Unlike a piece of knitting that’s not keeping my interest, I can’t unravel a half-read book. If I could I most certainly would because now I have a half-book floating around in my head with no ending.

When I start a knitting project I always start with the best of intentions but I don’t always finish and, yet , I have no (that’s right zero) UFO’s in my house. I have projects I am currently working on and I have yarn (a.k.a. unraveled projects). This is, no doubt, how I ended up with a basement-sized stash but, space constraints aside, it’s nice to have something that’s un-do-able. There is something about the very temporal nature of knitting that makes it somehow comforting. It means there are no mistakes in knitting. There is knitting and there is unraveling but no mistakes. Mistakes are only lessons and anyway, they can be undone (unless they’re felted,that might be a mistake or it might be a potholder).

I’ve had the displeasure of encountering many reading mistakes. Not Julian Barnes, of course. I was thinking more along the lines of grocery store magazine racks. I avoid these like the plague usually  but, sometimes the flashy covers will catch my eye and then before you know it I’ve stuck something into my head that will never go away. It’s non-ravelable.

Now that I think of it though, one could make the argument that knitting is also non-ravelable, after all who doesn’t remember their first hand-knit sweater?


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