The Warm Hug of Repetition

Most of the time when I finish a knit item I feel like that pattern has been checked off my to-do list. It’s been conquered, understood, and consumed. I don’t generally go back and knit another of the same item. But there are some patterns I knit over and over again. They tend to be smallish, simple, and gift-related. And as I cast on yet-another-baby-hat this week it felt like reuniting with an old friend.

Some hat recipients are more enthusiastic than others.

When you knit a pattern for the first time it’s a little bit like a first date. A blind one, even, if there aren’t any existing Ravelry projects with notes. There are questions to answer about whether the yarn you chose is suitable for the design. Choices to make for which cast on and bind off to use. Should you believe what the author says about sizing, or tweak things for your own measurements? Seasoned knitters harp on the importance of knitting a gauge swatch for correct fit, but I find them even more useful for discovering the fabric I’m about to knit. Do I like the texture? The color? Does the stitch pattern make me want to scream? More than one project has been abruptly aborted after the gauge swatch revealed that I had made very poor yarn choices indeed.

Aviatrix hat #4. The booties were an on-the-fly pattern though!

It’s all of this unknown that makes knitting a familiar pattern so comforting. I can dive right in without swatching. I can pull random odds and ends from my stash, confident I already know how they’l work up. Over time I develop my own list of tweaks and changes to the written pattern. Sometimes I write them in my notes, other times they’re just lodged in my head from all the times I’ve gotten to a spot and thought “I think I’ll change this a bit.”

Sometimes it feels like a bit of a cop out, knitting everyone the same thing. Especially when it’s a pattern like Aviatrix, with a stunning 10,000 projects on Ravelry. But there’s a reason the hat is so popular, and why I’ve knit two for my own kids: it’s a great hat. I never bind off and think “ugh” with that pattern. Taking risks and trying new things is great, but sometimes with knitting you just want the comfort of an old friend. Something you know will be worth the effort.

Of course, the great thing about knitting for babies is that they almost never complain, even if your project didn’t quite turn out as planned.


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