knitting without a pattern. . .

by mulberryshoots


knitting the past into the present. . . and then, letting it go free

I went to the fish market tonight to pick up some Nantucket Bay Scallops–the last of the season, it seems. They were tiny, succulent and briny. I dusted them with barely any flour, salt and coarse pepper. Melted a little unsalted butter in a skillet, threw in a couple of cloves of peeled and chopped garlic. Quickly cooked the scallops until they were barely cooked, light brown and only slightly crispy. I took them out of the skillet and plated them because they kept cooking after they were off the heat. Fresh Meyer lemon juice squeezed on top.

A few handfuls of farm fresh spinach–very young–from Verrill Farm, washed and cooked quickly in some olive oil. When it was just wilted, added a little light cream–the real thing and let it thicken. Scooped into a small bowl. Along with the Nantuckets, as they are called around here, the creamed spinach, we had a slice of pumpkin-apple bread.

For dessert tonight, I made some Sioux Indian Pudding that we serve heated up a little, then topped with Haagen Daz vanilla bean ice cream. The pumpkiny-pie flavor of the cornmeal with the smooth cold ice cream is one of our favorite desserts. G liked it from when he was young so I started making it when he told me about this favorite memory.

So far, this post has been about food.–so why is the title about knitting?  Because I knit the way that I cook. Find something fresh and appealing. Make it into something that suits your imagination. That’s how I knit without a pattern. I am writing about knitting because the lady at the counter at the fish store (see above) complimented me on the sweater I had on. Her name was Darlene. I thanked her for the compliment and told her that I used to have a sweater like it which I wore all the time when the kids were growing up. I wore it with a black and white feather patterned cotton skirt and a magenta V-neck t-shirt. They all said that they remembered that sweater. There’s a photo of me in that outfit with Jackie-O sunglasses on.

Alas, I had grown out of it and also lost track of it somehow. Then, about a year ago, I decided to knit myself a replica of the treasured sweater. I didn’t need a pattern because I had a picture of it in my mind that was more clear to me than if had been printed on paper. This 2nd generation version of the most treasured cardigan I had had early in my life turned out even better than the first. Which doesn’t always happen later in life when you try to recapture something you loved a long time ago. I used panels of seed stitch and cable stitch. Instead of an ordinary cable pattern, I made this one in the shape of a staghorn cable. The yarn was from Peru: a yummy taupe alpaca yarn. To finish it, I splurged on hand-carved deer antler buttons with brown scalloped edging. Darlene especially noticed the buttons. She said that when she travels, she picks up interesting buttons that she might use someday. She hasn’t knitted anything  since they bought the fish store, she said. But she can appreciate a nice handknit sweater. Her words were a nice surprise that lightened my day as I drove home.

I also knitted a scarf from the sweater’s leftover yarn that has a cable that wanders all over the place. I decided there were no rules to say that cables had to come back together symmetrically all the time. It was an interesting experiment where not only did I not use a pattern, but the knitting also took on a direction of its own. Go figure.