Unwinding, winding and Intuition: Elisabeth’s sea glass

The Intuition scarf structure is a straight, precise, measured, rectangular piece of knitting from which a sudden, organic, contradictory wild flow of undulations is released through stitches cast off and on without math, just the feeling in my hands. Each line / row is one colour, complete from end to end, though ultimately indeterminable in the synthesis and its worn sculpture.  Each piece is titled "Intuition: ____________".

I lasoo a skein of yarn around the back of a chair in order to unwind the strand and guide it towards the wool winder.  As I proceed to thread the yarn through my hand, into the winding of the wool winder, turning the handle, I notice that a few lengths of the skein are not in alignment.  I take a break in order to know how to address the inevitable consequence of knotting and, when to begin again.

I troll my current sketchbook and the one previous, marking drawings of note with coloured tabs, hoping I will come to know.

I investigate my apothecary cabinet of meticulously filed fibres, opening the specific drawer of random yarns, ends, odd balls, passively assembled and remove them to review on the table. I think about the skein, reassessing both the potential challenge and my readiness.

Sometimes it is a sketch that decides a piece, sometimes stitches are words, sometimes it is on the table, sometimes it is circumstances.

Elisabeth requested a palette in the colours of sea glass. I had limited lengths of some of her choices, which made me think about why I had included these impossible options and how I would knit the lines of the waves with fibres that would not meet end to end and why up until this point, in every Intuition piece, I had only been able to see rows in this way. The yarns caused me to stall, to pause, to step back and to find a new place, knitting a fibre until it was done and beginning another where, wherever, it left off / let go, devoid of the imposition of intellect or habit or previous design structure, an evolution, freedom and the answer to Intuition:  Elisabeth’s sea glass.

I return to the skein and examine a few areas where I believe the continuous strand will stop in a knot, where I will come to the possibility of impassability,  I proceed for a few hours, on and off and find that all is smooth for a very long while. And then I come to a blinding entanglement. Anxious, then relieved as a slight shake loosens and allows the way (to continue). As the single strand revolves counterclockwise from around the back of the chair, clockwise into its cylindrical form, I am calm yet becoming impatient, not because of the potential of knots, but because I simply want the process to be completed. Apparently not needing to pay attention to the winding, my mind wonders into reflection of situations that are currently frustrating to me and suddenly find myself once again, in the midst of the confusion of fibrous lines, which I am unable to release.

Sometimes we have to begin at the other end (of a problem) to find the solution, so I try to find my way there. But this time is different. I cut the continuous strand. I walk away.

I think about Lu Hong’s Magic, its cat with a ball of yarn, its strand in its paw. I think about the virtues of the disciplined, methodical unwinding of a ball of yarn and all of its tangles. I consider the change in my habit with respect to this episode of wool winding.

I cast on 325 stitches for Intuition: no row flow.


Not getting what you want is your greatest stroke of luck.

- The Dalai Lama

v. April 25 2017
© 2017 Andrea Shewchuk