On Knitting

From Unraveled


No one really knows how the art of knitting was invented. It was probably discovered by accident-- someone was playing around with string or rope and realized that a strong, flexible fabric could be formed by looping the string or rope through itself. There are no written records, and textiles themselves don’t last long enough for us to find any archaeological evidence, so we’re forced to use our imagination to determine when, in our history, that magical moment might have occurred.


You’re all looking at me like I’m nuts. “Dude, why is she going on about knitting? She’s finally gone off the deep end.” Or, more importantly, “Is this going to be on the test?”

Life is so much more than a test, right? 


If you’re wearing a sweater or a scarf I want you to take a look at it. Really take a look at it. Share it with your neighbor. Heck, if you’re wearing a T-shirt, that’ll work, too, it’ll just be really really small. Look closely. What do you see? Loops. Loops passing through loops passing through loops passing through loops. That garment, that sweater, scarf, T-shirt, whatever, was woven from a single string. A simple string winds around and around and around itself until its properties change. If I’m knitting in the round, one twist, and I make a Möbius-- infinity, literally. Keep twisting and I can make a Calabi-Yau shape, and you know what that is, right?


You should. String theory. That’s DEFINITELY going to be on the test.


It’s no accident that the permeating metaphor for space and time is fabric-- the Fabric of the Cosmos. And modern science is telling us now that it’s all interconnected-- when you pull on a loop over here, it unravels until the stitch falls out all the way over here. And this can explain entanglement, one of the greatest mysteries of quantum physics.


So this craft, rooted in our oldest traditions, handed down from grandmother to mother to daughter, reveals to us the nature of infinity. The simplest of necessities, an article of clothing, teaches us something significant about space and time. The practical collides with the theoretical, we’re tethered to the earth and the immensity of history is made manifest in a single, silken strand of yarn.

Loop passing through loop passing through loop until it becomes a strong and flexible and lovely fabric.


And it keeps you warm, too.



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