How I Learned to Knit; or, The Magic In Small Things

My mother knits.

She also cross-stitches elegantly composed original pieces, sewed all my Halloween costumes as a kid, and dressed me up in hand-crafted pinafores so often when I was small that my adult penchant for ripped jeans and Doc Martens is very likely some small form of sartorial rebellion.

When I was little, mom tried to teach me needlecraft. And, I could do it. But I never got it. The attention to detail. The monotony. The appeal alluded me.

I was more interested in mudpits and playing pretend. (And mouthing off, and not doing things I was told…)

Yet, here I am, 33, and knitting a scarf.

...and so it begins.

…and so it begins.

Meticulously counting stitches. Lovingly ensuring the correct tension on the yarn; painstakingly correcting dropped stitches.

Enjoying the meditative repetition. Staying up past my bedtime to finish a few more rows.

Who is this girl??

She’s a girl neck-deep in directing her first MainStage show, that’s who.

We’re deep into the third week of rehearsal for Bureau of Missing Persons by Lila Rose Kaplan, a sweet little tale of loss and redemption, and it happens to call for 100+ blue scarves to cover the stage. 

So, my trusty Stage Manager Kristen Ruthemeyer (a needlecrafting wizard) rounded up a crack team of knitters back in August who have been cranking out a truly dizzying array of knitwear ever since.

Behold, the Know Knitting Army.

Behold, the Know Knitting Army.

And…well, I felt a little left out.

And I like to be hands-on when I direct! So I asked Kristen to take an afternoon and teach me to knit.

The experience was…humbling. In the good way. (I’m not a natural with fine-motor-skills tasks, but I am stubborn, so every weird stitch only made me more obsessed with getting it right).

And as I stitched, things started to occur to me. Just like they’re dawning on me with each rehearsal.

The times I’ve missed a chance for connection.

The moments I’d wished I’d been more thoughtful.

The moments I’ve been grateful that someone was there to lift me up when I was in danger of going under.

Bureau of Missing Persons is that kind of story. Each thread of this tale holds together an image you just might recognize; a story that just might reflect your own. And it takes hold of you: it sweeps you up into an unexpected journey; where what you thought might be mundane becomes surprising–dare I say, even magical?

I just finished my very first scarf, and tomorrow it’ll become part of the set of Bureau of Missing Persons.

TADA! I actually finished making a scarf!

TADA! I actually finished making a scarf!

And every time I see it onstage, I’ll think about how it only took my 30 years to figure out what my mom was trying to teach me–not how to thread a needle, but how to recognize the magic that lies waiting in quiet, unexpected moments when you open yourself up to it.

I hope you’ll join us during the run of Bureau of Missing Persons. I hope you’ll get swept up in this story of the unexpected ways in which we heal. I hope you’ll recognize the hidden universes that open up when we open ourselves to one another.

You never know where that magic might be hiding…