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  • May 31, 2021 4 min read

    Last Tuesday my son, Colton, was scheduled to come home from college. I called him Monday, just to chat, and see what he planned to do with all the random things that wouldn’t fit into his suitcase.  Pillows, bedding, blah blah blah.  I told him to go ahead and check in since it was an early flight -- 5:45 am.  He said he hadn’t gotten an email from the airlines.  I’d bought the ticket two weeks ago--or so I thought. Because, you know, that is a thing I would do - be halfway through the checkout process and get distracted by something and forget to complete the transaction.  With my heart in my throat I went into Bill’s office.

    "We might have a problem," I said. "Can you please check the credit card transactions for something from American Airlines?"

    My shoulders relaxed and I started breathing again when he confirmed, yes, indeed, a charge to American Airlines posted on the 13th.  Back to Colton who finally found the email, checked in, and it was all good.

    Until the morning of the flight.  Did I mention that it was a 5:45am flight? And did I also mention that my boy is not a morning person? 

    I called him when I got up at 6:30, which is 3:30 Oregon time.  No answer.  

    Bill and I drank our coffee and waited for a return call telling me he was on his way to the airport. It would be 4 am in Oregon.  No call. 

    I went upstairs to shower hoping for the ping of a text message telling me he was at security..  

    Oregon time 4:30 am.  

    Bill and I discussed how much a last minute flight might cost and whether funds from a missed flight could be applied to a new flight.  

    By 5:00 am Oregon time I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I sent Colton a cheery, Hey! text with a smiley emoticon and stepped into the shower.   “Maybe our boy will surprise us,”   Bill said.

    “Maybe,” my words lost in the pounding water.

    At 5:15 Oregon time, standing there in my bathrobe, my hair wrapped in a pink towel I heard the ping. 

    A text message from Colton.


    Followed immediately by, “I’m at my gate”

    Such relief.  So many emotions I could now let go. The disappointment of not seeing my boy after all these months.  The fear that the plane fare would be lost.  The concern that he was not up to the challenge of long-distance travel on his own. 

    He was fine.  I was the problem.

    I realized that what I wanted was some level of reassurance that everything was proceeding according to plan. My daughters still text me at every step. These are grown competent women with jobs and homes and lives, but they text me when they leave for the airport. When they get through security, when they are at the gate, and when they are on the plane.  And they want the same information from me when I travel. Colton is a very different person though. He told me when he got to the gate, and if I hadn’t texted him, I probably wouldn't have heard from him until he was pulling his suitcase from the baggage carousel at DCA. It’s just a difference in personality.  

    I have found both designers and knitters  can vary as much as my kids do. Some will tell you how many stitches remain after every shaping row  Others don’t mention it at all, and simply assume that you’re good until bind of remaining 12 stitches.  

    Likewise, not every knitter is comfortable with a high level of independence. While beginning knitters tend to need more reassurance, plenty of experienced knitters need that double check.  I know very experienced knitters who write out every row and calculate the stitches that should remain at the end of each.  Other knitters just figure they’re going to be fine until they aren’t - no news is good news.

    I’m in the middle.  I don’t typically write my whole pattern out row by row, but if there’s a reason for concern, I will. Some patterns just have so much going on (as in at the same time) that you really are well advised to write it all out.  But, If the pattern gives the stitch counts, you bet I'm going to look at them and count my stitches.  I always give myself a fist pump when my count is correct. 

    It’s kind of a good practice really, to write your pattern out and give yourself the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re on the right track at every step. No need to write out every stockinette row, although some do, but just the shaping rows. Not only will it keep you on track, it’s also a good way to make sure there isn’t an error in your pattern, because designers are only human, and they can make mistakes too.  

    If you happen to put your knitting down during the middle of a shaping sequence, you can quickly come back and see generally where you are by the number of stitches that remain on your needle.  

    We can tell ourselves we don’t need it, and maybe we don’t.  It will probably all be fine, just as it was with Colton, but without that reassurance, we worry.  So go ahead and write out those rows, because we have way more fun things to do with our time than worry. 


    ~ Ellen

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