Knitting my own wedding dress had always been a goal of mine.

I wanted to make people gasp.

That’s kind of a silly, pretentious thing to admit, right? But the truth is that sometimes I’m a vain woman. I wanted to make people’s jaws drop. I wanted them to see me in a Gibson girl silhouette, wearing a thin, yellow dress of such diaphanous beauty that Charlotte of the legendary web would be astonished by my prowess.

It was an excellent goal.

And look, it wasn’t my first time up to bat. I once knitted an Alice Starmore pattern called Cromarty out of Koigu Kersti. I nailed it (even though it took 25 balls of yarn and weighed the same as a Great Dane). I don’t wear it—it makes me look like a short, wide, fancily-cabled house. It was a big goal—I succeeded.

But when I started knitting, and when you started knitting, we had simple goals. Just getting the yarn around the needle without it skidding off more than twice in a row made us feel like rock stars. Purling! Remember purling? For many of us, just the word made our skin crawl with fear.

It’s just knitting backward, people blithely told us, not understanding that we could barely knit forward yet. They wanted us to turn it around? (My sister, an accomplished knit-stitcher, has refused for almost thirty years to learn purl. She’s quite happy with garter stitch, thank you very much.)