Outdoor knitting. Breaking cycles.

Saturday, I read a manuscript written for middle grade readers by a friend of mine with a similar childhood. It was UTTERLY ASTOUNDING. I have never seen PTSD in children so viscerally displayed in a book before — especially one for readers so young. And it is SO NEEDED. I wish I’d read a book like that in grade school.

I am not sure what it would have done, to read it. Would I have recognized myself? Probably not; I was intensely loyal to my family (just like the protagonist). But I feel like it would have stayed with me in a fundamental way that would have made a difference.


Yesterday, I went knitting with my 13-year-old, while he fished.

Well, first we pre-fished— and he was able to show me, with enormous confidence and cheer, HIS mastery of a subject, and how well he handled disappointment. (His childhood is much different from mine — living in a city, for one, but also being able to confidently and happily show that he knew more about something than a parent, and directing that parent in what to do, without fear of reprisal. Someday maybe I’ll write about taking a dance class with my mother, and how she handled my being better and being happy about it. Long story short: NOT WELL. But not now.)

First, we busily rolled up bread together into compact little balls. (I did teach him how to pack them down more firmly — a trick learned in grade school when there was nothing in the refrigerator but I could bring bread to school for my lunch.) Then, we drove down to Minnehaha Creek to put the bread into a trap, figure out the best place in the stream to place it, and lower it into the delicious, icy cool water.

Two hours later, we’d caught a grand total of one. My kid handled the disappointment well, and we headed to the lake to fish.

I am practicing, with garbage old dusty scratchy acrylic, the gauntlet stitching and cabling. That way, if it goes well, I won’t be tempted to keep going. This HAS to be pure practice. I find that much more restful.

Even and especially when we are on the dock at Lake Nokomis with jubilant children all around catching panfish after panfish after panfish and handing them to a couple who had been there since 10 am and who had an enormous basket of fish to take home already.

Chatting with them about the difference between Lake Michigan, the lake they and I swam in as kids from Chicago, and the healthier lakes here full of fish, and how freaked out we were when we ran into some at first. Laughing at ourselves for leaping, horrified, out of the water.

The kids running back and forth joyfully, handing the fish to the couple who would patiently remove the hooks for the children, throw back the too-small ones.

The wind blew my knitting, I frogged AT LEAST five times, my son caught nothing but a huge clump of seaweed (which he posted proudly with; vegetarian fishing!). He helped the little kids remove hooks, as well. My knitting got snarled up and I happily started again.

Wind, hazy sun, joyfully squealing children, chatting with people who’d made the same move I had, time with my ridiculous cornball of a kid.

Family, working towards mastery, community, outdoors, knitting. A good day. Got right up to where I’d start the cabling; which I’ll work on tonight.

(Too much fun for a photo, except for my son’s vegetarian catch, which seems a bit too personal for this blog, so I found an online image of the Nokomis fishing dock with a few people fishing on it but too far away to identify.)


  1. When you practice cable knitting with cheap inflexible acrylic yarn, the cable stitches will be harder to knit and not look as nice as they will look when you knit the same thing with a bouncier yarn. And the tension needed may be different. So keep that in mind if it doesn’t go well. It’s still reasonable to do it just to figure out how to do the stitches right, just keep in mind that even if you do them right they won’t look as good in acrylic yarn.


    • Thank you! I could tell already that it was looking not so great with the ribbing, and thought it might have been the wind. So, that’s great information.


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