I once knew an older woman, named Sarah Ettenheim, who knitted while presiding over loud, contentious, racially divided community meetings. She would recognize people to speak, insist on proper decorum, and quote Robert’s Rules of Order, chapter and verse, all while clicking her wooden needles and adjusting the ball of yarn on her lap. She was often looking down to watch her stitch but she was entirely present as if there was no place she would rather be than in the middle of a difficult political scrum with her knitting.

She was brilliant and calm.

So it struck me the other day that maybe I should learn how to knit. Maybe it would give me the aura that Sarah wore so well. I could be an elegant lady at peace amidst chaos.

I asked my friend who knits how to learn to knit. Go to a knitting store, she said. The easiest way to learn is with a person and they’ll have classes and lessons. That seemed like a big commitment. First of all, there’s the knitting store which will have beautiful yarns and a millions kinds of needles and I will either buy everything or run back to my car before opening the door. Hard telling.

So then I googled “easiest learn to knit kit” and found this one where the reviews (appropriately) raved about how cute it is. One reviewer said she would buy it again just because of the adorable, self-closing box. Another said that her eight-year old could follow the directions. Bingo!

So I opened the box and took its picture. The yarn will never be as pretty as it is at this moment. Its next iteration will be an enormous tangle attached to a few rows of cramped stitches. I haven’t started yet but I can see how it will turn out. A bad seamstress, the last zipper I tried to put in sticks in my mind like an episode of dropping the holiday ham on the kitchen floor and watching it skid toward the refrigerator.

Yesterday, I started to read the instruction book. The first step is to make a slip knot. Now, I took boating lessons and we had a whole chapter on knots but I only learned to tie one, the one used to tie a boat up to a cleat on the dock (impressed are you that I know the word “cleat?” we had to look it up). I felt like Popeye the Sailor Man tying our little boat up but that’s another story.

So I studied the picture of of the hands creating the slip knot and I remember I bought the kit because a reviewer said an eight-year old could follow the instructions and I am already comparing myself and it isn’t to my benefit. The slip knot is the first step to ‘casting on.’ This sounds like a wonderful thing to do. Excuse me, everyone, I am about to CAST ON.

Anyway, I read about casting on but decided that trying it required more solitude than I was afforded with two teenagers and a ten-year old in the kitchen carving pumpkins, playing music, and complaining of knife wounds every ten minutes. A person needs a certain level of calm to knit, I tell myself, but then I remember Sarah Ettenheim who once knitted through a rancorous meeting in which a community group called the Commandos drew guns and held everyone hostage for several hours. It was the seventies so it was all in good humor. Not like today.

I’m excited about knitting. Someday. Meanwhile, I admire this incredibly cute box. Now it’s on my coffee table as I await the perfect moment to, as they say, cast on.