Knitting is an imperfect art.
The whole nature of knitting, back-to-the-basics backwoods, at its origins, decrees its imperfection.
There will never be two knitters that have exactly the same gauge.
There will never be two duplicate sheep.
The quality and nature of wool varies– depending on the sheep, its parentage, its age, what it eats, and the severity of the winter.
Wool can be hand-carded or machine-carded. It may be combined with other fibers. No one counts out each individual fiber to make sure the ratio of wool/alpaca is exact.
It can be spun woollen or worsted or something in between. It can be hand-spun or commercially spun. There are thousands of spinning wheels, thousands of spinners.
Knitting machines and their commercially-sold products have got knitted fabric down to a mathematical equation: you put in the wool and out comes a sweater.
Yet each sheep has its own history, that no amount of washing and dying and spinning can get rid of.
Knitting is never absolutely reproducible. It’s an art that began with a herder, out in some dank, overgrown prairie, long ago. Someone has to be dirty, to wear the mud and snow and grease. Someone washes. They scrub too hard, and the wool begins to stick to itself. They begin again, more carefully. Someone with a gentle, wrinkled, practiced hand spins a fine thread. The wool is set in the dye-pot. Someone stirs the fire with a charred stick. The colour sets.
Someone makes loops on a hand-carved bone needle, counting softly: one, two, three. A garment begins to grow. A stitch escapes the needle, unnoticed, and has to be worked up through the tight fabric. The garment begins to grow arms. Someone takes a pair of scissors to a vertical line. Stitches are picked up, buttons sewn on.
The garment is worn. Worn lovingly. Worn through. The elbows are patched, once, twice, thrice. The garment is hung up in a cellar closet and forgotten.
Someone explores, finds a sweater hand-knit of hand-spun, hand-dyed, hand-washed yarn. Someone patches the moth-holes. Someone slides their arms through patched wooly sleeves, and pulls on rubbers to go feed the sheep.