That afternoon, I decided to knit something other than a scarf. I’d already made scarves for my loyal family members. With big needles and big yarn, I could whip up a scarf in a few days. It didn’t matter if it wasn’t perfect. My mom always said that a flaw in the knitting proves that it’s handmade. Anyway, with something you wrap around your neck, a purl instead of a knit stitch really doesn’t matter. When everyone had a scarf, I was ready to move on to the next level. I wanted to make a hat for my year-old grandson. I headed over to the local knit shop. The owner was glad to outfit me with fine baby blue washable wool yarn, a book with an “easy” pattern, calling for narrow-gauge circular needles and four double-pointed needles. I told her I had never used any of these kinds of needles. She promised me it was a piece of cake. I just had to keep count of my stitches. She sold me a white plastic counter for that too. She said to come back if I had any problems.
It took me almost an hour to “cast on” correctly, getting the yarn firmly lined up—not twisted backwards—on the needles. The first rows took much longer than I was used to, since the yarn and needles were thinner and narrower. I told myself that working with this yarn was much more grown-up than the big yarn. The instructions showed me how to start reducing, to form the dome of the hat. Then, many, many hours into the project, I was breathless with excitement to get to the next stage: the double-pointed needles. I was very proud of myself in figuring out what the pictures in the book were telling me what to do to close up the top of the hat. Just as I reached the finish line, I saw it. In the 5th row, there was a tiny hole, probably a knit instead of a purl. I turned the hat around a few times, trying to see if it really showed. It did. But I wasn’t worried because the knit shop lady would know what to do. The shop door chimed merrily as I entered the store clutching my nearly-finished baby hat. The owner didn’t look as friendly as before as I placed the hat on her counter. I showed her the little problem with the hat. I asked her to show me how to fix it. She smiled, “Yes, dear. You need to rip it out and start all over again.”