Sometimes I have complicated feelings about our nonstop stream of “Knit to This” recommendations. I worry that what we’re really doing is coming up with ways to make knitting feel “faster,” as if we didn’t enjoy doing it or something. Why is simply sitting and knitting in the quiet not enough?
So that’s what I tried to do last week. I made sure everything was turned off—including my phone, which is actually trickier to do than I thought (both psychologically and mechanically since I have no idea which button to press and I refuse to believe that Airplane Mode is a thing)—and picked up a new project that’s been waiting for The Right Time.
Turns out it’s really hard. Not to just sit and knit, but to find true “quiet.” I could hear a neighbor dragging his trash can bump bump bump from the street to his side yard. Another neighbor struggled with attaching a new garden hose to an intermittent sprinkler. I could tell it was a struggle because he invented eight all-new cussings while doing it. I heard the jingling collars of no fewer than eight dogs attached to dog walkers who use our street instead of the adjacent busier one to exercise their pets.
Speaking of dogs, I could hear the growling tummy of my own black-and-tan coonhound Opal, asleep on the sofa opposite me. Asleep, asleep, always asleep, the way rescued hunting dogs always are. Also: the slight wheeze of her deep breathing and her occasional snore or dreamy whimper. When we adopted her, she came with the name “Symphony,” and now I know why. Well, all that plus the occasional thunderous hound dog bay triggered by the quick shave-and-a-haircut door knock from UPS.
The mildest breeze occasionally flirts with the backyard hackberry, reminding me with its increasingly creaky creaks that that tree really must get chopped down soon, before the only sound I hear is an angry neighbor yelling at me while shaking a roof-repair estimate in my face.
Even my own house has its own mysterious score. Why does the ice maker keep turning on and off? I haven’t used any ice in weeks—surely it knows that. But there it goes again, whirring and chirping and tumbling new ice into the bin. Maybe it just takes a lot longer to make ice than I think it does. The air conditioner (on in May despite my “never before June 1!” resolution) clicks and then pauses and then mercifully whirs its sweet sweet freon all over the place.
The house is a hundred years old, so it makes non-mechanical sounds of its own. “Settling” I guess, though it sounds pretty restless to me. Nothing identifiable triggers some of them, but suddenly the back hallway floor might pop like a firecracker and the baby-rattles of a window pane in the dining room catch my ear.
It went on like this for a long time. I got a lot of stockinette done, the same amount I would have finished had I been watching the new season of Hacks or an old one of The Twilight Zone. I wasn’t knitting in a vacuum. There was no quiet at all, really. Even after the neighbor coiled up the garden house in resignation and slammed his front door shut, even after my own dog got up and sighed dramatically and went into the bedroom to sleep nine more hours in a different room, even after the quick crack of a tree branch startled me into thinking “uh-oh, I did wait too long to deal with the hackberry” … even when all of that gave way to night—which brought its own sounds—it was okay to be sitting alone in a room for a bit and knitting to nothing more than my own heartbeat.
Knit to nothing this week, y’all. I think you’ll be surprised.