Who knows what happens next?



the mind body problem
S. Fleming


A Harlemite’s Knitting Journey
Y. Washington

It was 2002 when Ms. Deutsch, my high school librarian, taught me how to knit. I was fourteen years old, a loner, and dreaded going to the lunchroom. Even as a child, large crowds and too much noise gave me anxiety. Besides, I’d be the proverbial introverted “loser” sitting in a corner reading a book instead of engaging with people. So, for four years during lunchtime, I found solace in the serenity of the library, surrounded by books; it’s where I discovered Harlan Coben, my favorite mystery author, and got my first summer job—Ms. Deutsch paid me ten dollars an hour to inventory books.  

Ms. Deutsch was an avid knitter and walked around the library knitting. She was the first person to tell me that the craft only consisted of two stitches—knit and purl—and you could combine the two to make beautiful projects. She brought in bulky yarn, a pair of large, straight knitting needles, and she taught me the basics of knitting a scarf during lunch breaks. I caught on quickly, but inadvertently dropped stitches. Ms. Deutsch showed me how to pick them up with a crochet hook, but I kept dropping them. Watching my bulky knit scarf unravel in the middle and at the sides gave me great anxiety. So, I threw up my hands, thanked Ms. Deutsch, and settled into crocheting for about eight years.

Then, in 2014, while still crocheting and roaming the city, I discovered the Lion Brand Yarn Company on 15th Street. The shop was small and welcoming, with samples of shawls and beanies displayed in the window and throughout the store, with a large rectangular table in the back. I’d get comfortable at that table and crochet for hours, listen to conversations, and leave with bags of yarn and printed patterns, promising my new friends that I’d be back the next week. 

One day, I discovered Chiaogoo circular needles and was unbelievably confused about what the red cable was for. 

“It’s just there to hold the stitches,” an employee told me. “It also allows the yarn to glide easily as I knit.”

I was also completely enthralled by how he engaged a customer without even looking at what he was knitting.

“My index finger guides me to knitting the next stitch; it takes practice,” he said, with a shrug and a smile.

I was excited. was going to learn how to do that. I decided to buy some Chiaogoos and yarn, find a video on YouTube on how to make a beanie, and reteach myself how to knit. I figured that if I dropped stitches, I had experts to show me how to pick them up—again—and maybe this time, I’d be more patient with myself and the process. 

My hands hurt. My stitches were too tight. But I was learning. When I dropped stitches, I was able to pick them up without having an anxiety attack because I learned that if you don’t pull on the fabric, the dropped stitches won’t go anywhere, and you can place locking stitch markers on them to keep them from moving while you work and pick them up later. Overall, the process was relaxing, and I found myself getting drowsy at the table—in a good, meditative way. 

On my way to work each day, armed with my Chiaogoos and worsted yarn, I stared at anything but my beanie and taught myself, in about a week, how to knit in stockinette stitch without looking.

These days, I have the flexibility to walk down the street or converse with people as I knit. The ability to do so is nothing short of exhilarating, especially when it builds community and invites conversation from amazed adults and children. 

“How are you doing that?” a woman once asked as I knit my way through Central Park. 

I shrugged and smiled, just as the employee did in the Lion Brand store. “My index finger guides me to the next stitch, but it took some practice,” I said.

“Can you teach me?”

“Sure,” I said, plugging my name and number into her phone.

Recently, I was knitting a beanie on the bus going downtown and caught a little boy sneaking glances at me while whispering to his mother.

“Can I try?” he asked. 

After I asked his mom for permission to teach a quick lesson, we sanitized our hands. The little boy quickly picked up the process of knitting and smiled. “Mom, this is cool!” he gushed.

Still, knitting took forever. I’d quickly lose interest in finishing a project because I knit English style and “threw” my yarn, which slowed me down. I wanted instant gratification and the extra step of moving my right hand to wrap the yarn around the needle and then positioning it back on the needle again ate up precious seconds. It wasn’t until I visited Knitty City, a small yarn shop on 79th Street, that I sat and watched a fellow customer knitting and discovered a modified way of knitting English style. Instead of taking your hand off the needle to throw the yarn, you simply move your index finger back and forth.

“It’s called flicking,” the customer said, as she knit at lightning speed. “It’s really made me a faster knitter.” She then gave me a video by Very Pink Knits to watch, and warned that it would take about two weeks to learn. 

My index finger cramped horribly. I couldn’t get into a rhythm of flexing it back and forth and keeping the yarn laced through my fingers in a way where it would glide easily. It was like simultaneously rubbing my stomach and patting my head. I just couldn’t get it. I was frustrated and almost gave up.

But I persevered.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when my mind was blown, but in some span of time (maybe three weeks?) the method clicked. I was flicking away and without looking, my index finger hooked at just the right angle to get the yarn to latch onto the needle. 

As I got more and more comfortable with the flicking method and knitting without looking, my needle size gradually decreased. As a knitter, there’s something very cathartic about working with a set of metal circular needles. And for me, the smaller the needles and thinner the yarn the better, because on this journey, I’ve acquired something that I thought I never would: patience. I no longer desire the instant gratification that comes with knitting with large needles and worsted or bulky yarn. Instead, knitting fingering-weight sweaters and shawl wraps allows me to not only enjoy my yarn choice but ruminate about my next writing project or the next book I want to read, which are processes, too. 

I knit every day and sometimes, in the middle of work or writing a paper for school, I find myself arbitrarily picking up a project and knitting a couple rows or rounds. And, like a book, I always keep a work-in-progress (or WIP) on my person and the pattern on my iPhone. Like reading, knitting takes me to a faraway place where I can just be, happy in my solitude with my thoughts, if only for a few minutes. Whether I’m waiting in line at the supermarket or walking down the street, there’s something anxiety-reducing about the caress of yarn against my skin, the gentle sound of metal on metal. 

As an adult, I’m still a loner in love with my solitude. Knitting, reading, and writing are just three parts of my many intersecting identities. Relearning how to knit, especially without looking, has allowed me the freedom to read a book at the same time. It has also allowed me to envision my next creative nonfiction piece. 

I have a tattoo on my back that says, “Writing ignites my fire,” and every single time I dream up a narrative like this one while knitting a sweater or a shawl, I get that fire in my belly and those goosebumps on my skin that tell me that the piece is nothing short of amazing and will resonate deeply with my audience. I’ve found a home in nonfiction and I’ve been working on crafting pieces that will engage readers and crafters alike, and build community through shared experiences. 

Even as I’m writing this, I’m stopping every few minutes to knit a beanie in my hand-dyed colorway, Better Dayz. It’s bright, has the feel of springtime, and makes me happy. This textile craft is ingrained into my everyday life and illuminates my unmistakable creativity with needles and a pen; it’s like the best friend I’ve never had, the sleep aid I desperately need. I’ve learned to trust the process of knitting just as I trusted the process of writing from the moment I knew it soothed my soul, and I’ll forever love the journey.

The author, wearing a beanie she knit from yarn she dyed.


Mrs. Gravy
S. Fleming


Recipe by J. Hudak, as shared with C. Hudak

When I was a kid, everyone said how much I was like Aunt S., which made little me marvel. Aunt S. had big hair and long, red, manicured nails. She worked at the phone company, drove a Corvette, and lived, fabulously, alone. I was the small eldest of a passel of children in a crowded, loud apartment. My unfabulous outsides did not match Aunt S.’s outsides at all

In adulthood, I’ve come to better understand. In a family of angry, mean alcoholics, Aunt S. and I are cut from the same, distinct cloth. Independently and early, she and I realized we can and will protect and defend our safety and sanity against any and all incursions. Among other results: we’re both estranged from many of our family members. They say we’re hard and cold, but we don’t see it. We’re not mad—we’re just taking good care.

One of the surprises of my pandemic has been a renewed relationship with Aunt S. She and I live on opposite coasts. Our lives are generationally and aesthetically dissimilar. With our individual tendencies to roll independently, I did not expect us to find one another, after decades apart.

And, yet. 

We text. One of our shared paths is food; we both love beautiful sustenance. She sent me a kalács for Easter and I sent her my recipe for vegan mince pie. We’ve taken to elegantly plating our meals and sending one another carefully-considered photos. Aunt S.’s pictures are of duck breasts and roasts while mine are of vegan soups—and we ooh and ahh over one another’s creations. 

Aunt S. called J. Hudak Gramma. She says Gramma made this soup often. I made it for the first time this week.


4 C chicken or vegetable broth
1# fresh green beans, cut in 1” pieces
2 small onions, finely chopped
3 T oil or butter
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 t paprika
3 T flour
1/2 C cold water
1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
2 t vinegar
thin noodles, cooked
salt and pepper to taste

Heat broth in large, 3 1/2 quart pot. Add beans and onions, and simmer 15-20 minutes, until the beans are tender but still firm.

Heat butter in a small saucepan. Add the garlic, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika and flour. Slowly bend in the cold water to form a thick paste. Stir the paste into the hot soup and simmer, stirring constantly, until the soup has slightly thickened. Add vinegar, parsley, and the cooked noodles. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

If I’d searched the internet first, I might have chosen a different noodle. If you, like I, decide to interpret “thin noodles” as angel hair, I can recommend a spoon and chopsticks for eating your Hungarian soup.

P.S. When I was studying Hungarian, my teacher taught me a poem she said all the Hungarian kids learn. Olvadás is by Weöres Sándor.

Csip, csep.
Egy csep, öt csep, meg tiz:
olvad a jégcsap
csepereg a viz.

It’s about an icicle, hanging from an eave. Drip, drop. One drop, five drops, then ten. In a poem I wrote for my daughter around her 18th birthday, I said,

This really is how it happens.

Ice, warmed, water:
rolling rivulets turned
by what we encounter. 

We have carried each other 
this far. Who knows 
what happens next?

Chuckanut Drive on a sunny day. Whatcom County, Washington, U.S.A. By E. Hudak.

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