Skip to content

Dear Ann,

When life feels out of control, one weird trick lowers my blood pressure.

I clean out a drawer. Often it’s the same drawer I cleaned out the last time I felt that way. There is satisfaction in taking everything out, and putting back in only the things that need to go back in, discarding takeout menus (how quaint are takeout menus? they are the eight-track tapes of restaurant delivery), receipts for refrigerator repair, and little felt thingies that came unstuck from chair legs.

My two favorite drawers for this exercise: the one in the kitchen with the pens (so many pens) and the one in the dining room with the birthday candles and the matches from Ruby Foo’s. I can’t say why, but it calms me right down. The birthday candles are in order. They are separated from the Hanukkah candles. Matzah crumbs and poppy seeds have been eliminated. All will be well.

Before you poo-poo my tranquilizer of choice, go clean out a drawer—it feels great, doesn’t it?

This week I discovered the knitting equivalent of cleaning out a drawer: grafting together the four pieces—finished long ago—of my Cuatro Wrap by Joji Locatelli.

Calming factor number one: Lorilee Beltman

I started by re-watching Lorilee Beltman’s 2009 classic YouTube tutorial: Memorize the Kitchener Stitch. While I have indeed memorized this grafting method from previous watchings, I run anxious (ya think?) so I wanted to watch it one more time before leaping into grafting 120 stitches per side. It’s so clear, and so reassuring.

Calming factor number two: the existence of ginkgo trees

The repetitive motion of grafting 120 stitches, on each of three edges, took me a couple of hours, during which I watched videos about the ginkgo tree. It is very calming to contemplate a tree that has existed on earth for over 200 million years, give or take. Six ginkgo trees in Hiroshima survived within a two-kilometer radius of the bomb; they live and are venerated today. How did ginkgo trees get from Asia to Europe and America? Oh, it’s a tale! A nerdy, relaxing tale.

And at the end of this process, my own scrappy version of the Cuatro Shawl, in one piece and poppy seed free, ready to block.



The yarn: Tov DK, also known as I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cashmere. I picked my shades at random and I couldn’t be happier.


  • Thank you for such a great morning read. Appreciate your sense of color and frequently want to emulate your creations.

  • Yes I totally agree. I also have a go-to drawer filled with pens and menus that provides the same satisfaction. If that is not enough I head for my circular needle cases just to make sure everything is in order. And wow about the Ginkgo trees. Glad you found a way thru all those grafting stitches. The shawl is beautiful.

    • Cleaning out a drawer is just enough challenge for me to feel accomplished. Knitting the kitchener stitch makes me feel that I can conquer the world!

  • Thank you, Kay! I love grafting – I even like seaming, usually. But the best is nice long straight grafts, like afghans and shawls. It always seems () like magic when it all comes together.

  • Love those colors together! One day, suddenly, I came to the same conclusion you did about the 8-track menus. Too bad we can’t 8-track house cleaning. (I think you just made up a new verb, Kay.)

  • Your wrap is beautiful Kay — Hope it’s making a debut at Shakerag ! You need to show it off .

  • I love MDK. Yes! the drawers! Although I don’t know that it is calming, I get absolutely giddy when I clean out that drawer.

  • Left-Handed Kitchener Stitch. Oh, and I want to recommend my favorite Kitchener stitch video for people who are left-handed: this one by Edie Eckman. Mostly I find knitting is a two handed craft and I don’t need different guidance but it REALLY has helped me with grafting.

    • Thank you so much for this reference! After decades, a lifetime of trying to figure out the differences of knitting, not to mention crochet, from right-handed to left, this will help a lot. A great shout out to all who include our 15% of the pop. in their instructions (hubbo was thrilled to find a leftie instructor when he took fly-fishing lessons with a pal).

  • Excellent video on understanding the Kitchener stitch. Thank you.

  • I shall the video. Just a word of warning.

    The pens never work when needed. Never. Sigh

    • Making sure the pens work is part of the fun of cleaning out that drawer (or coffee mug, in my case)! Add to the fun by making sure the pencils are sharpened, if you can find the pencil sharpener.

  • Good morning, Kay. Just reading this had a calming effect. Thank you for starting my day in such a pleasant way.

    • What a lovely way to start a morning – reading this funny, sweet, helpful column! I will try the drawer trick! I am sure you are well aware of the massive amounts of ginkgo trees on the Upper East Side, Kay! I feel honored to walk the streets with these ancient trees blooming!

      • Love it!
        When I’m feeling like that, I clean out my purse.
        On the other hand, my drawers are a mess, so maybe I should switch it up.

      • For reasons unknown, my grandparents had the only ginkgo tree in Omaha. It was visited by the Arbor Society! It’s still there, impressively gnarly and very tall, it has to be 100 years old at this point, which of course is no age to a ginkgo tree. I always brought ginkgo leaves to show and tell. When I moved to New York and saw ginkgo leaves on the sidewalks everywhere I was amazed!

        • On our way from the Twin Cities to Omaha for a wedding. Where would we find this famous ginko tree?

          • Sent you an email with the coordinates of the former Gardiner estate.

  • Beautiful morning read. I will clean out the sock/underwear drawer and then graft something that’s been sitting around. Thank you

  • Recovering from surgery and very limited I organized drawers! Best therapy ever!

  • I just love your writing. That’s all. (The wrap is beautiful too.)

  • I whole heartedly agree with the calming effect of organizing things when your world feels a mess. It’s comforting to at least have control over my junk drawer(s)! Organizing a yarn stash works too
    Can’t speak to grafting, but maybe I’ll try that next! Kay, your writing (and your person) speaks to me!

  • What a gorgeous wrap Kay! And you just reminded me that I have only grafted two panels together of my felted tweed throw from last year, three needle bind off, but same theory, right? You have inspired me to a metaphorical drawer cleanout… Happy long weekend!

  • Ok, now I forgive them the stench! Fascinating.

  • I ❤️ you and ginkgo trees!

  • Kay,

    How cool about your family’s tree!

    There were 5 ginkos on the Pentacrest at U Iowa. I loved those trees so much, and when I discovered they were the “dinosaur” of trees, I loved them more. However, I think periodically (I can’t remember when) they will go into heat and bring into being a god-awful stinky orange fruit that littered the sidewalks of the Pentacrest. But that didn’t diminish (well, maybe for a day) my love of them.

    • Those are the females, that’s why most gingkgo trees sold at garden centers are males. Occcasional a male tree will make a few fruits, just to keep us wondering at the marvels of nature I guess.

  • Oooh, I wish I had ordered the kit for Cuatro Wrap when it was on sale! Just lovely.

    • I was a library volunteer for a dozen years. If I had a particularly tough day at work, I would slide by and shelve a cart of books on my way home. Made me tired, calm and satisfied.

  • For me it’s cleaning out a closet, although drawers are a close second. Hmmm, I wonder if I should reorganize my stash.

  • I’ll leave the grafting to you. I really hate doing it so much. Even 15 stitches on a top-down sock (that means 30 grafted stitches for a pair…the horror!). I’ll read a pattern chart upside-down to make it a toe-up sock, or be OK with a line of 3-needle bind-off before I would do 120 stitches of grafting.

  • Interestingly enough, I planned to clean out a bed table drawer this morning. How did all that stuff get in there? I understand the scissors and stitch markers though.

    The kitchener stitch of that many stitches does not seem calming to me.

  • Thank you for the tip on a Kitchener stitch video, I will watch it next after finishing Saturday Snippets. I’ve only been knitting for a little over five years and grafting is anxiety producing! I made a shrug last fall from luxury yarn and I wore it but it’s a bit too snug. It was knit one direction then the other from a provisional cast on along the back middle. My plan has been to snip it open and add an inch or two and then graft. This video might give me the confidence I need to get started. Thank you so much for all the snippets that MDK shares.

  • Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    What an inspiring message! I love love love ginko trees! Will be on the hunt for those videos next Day of Stress. BTW, you might even want to check out Ginko Biloba by Jodi Gordon Lucas. It’s a winner
  • Grafting 120 stitches!? Three times! I barely concentrate long enough to graft the toe of a sock

  • Thanks for the ginkgo link! My dad would have loved that video.

Come Shop With Us

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping