Monday, September 15, 2008

When did I learn to knit?

When did I learn to knit? This is a frequently asked question that I haven’t the foggiest idea how to answer. It seems I’ve always known how to knit. I can remember when I was 8 or 9 my grandparents were visiting and Memere taught me how to crochet a chain. I made chains like you wouldn’t believe, marveling how the kitchen cotton colors varied as I worked the yarn. I don’t remember either my mother or grandmother teaching me. Perhaps I absorbed it from watching them. But then again neither one of them knit very much.
Mum did machine knitting for a couple years around when I was 9 or 10. I can hear the whirl of the carriage traveling across the bed of needles and I remember there always seemed to pieces of sweaters with long threads hanging off them laying about the house. I has a brand name child and adamant that I would not be caught wearing something handmade. So sadly, she made nearly everyone in the family sweaters, everyone but me.
The next point in my life where knitting played a part was when we moved my sophomore year in high school to a new town. I think Mum wanted to find something to occupy my time since I didn’t make friends very quickly. I recall shopping for the Lopi to make felted clogs, and those giant wooden needles but I still have no recollection of being taught to knit. I do remember Mum always had to cast on for me since my 14 year old self thought it was a useless skill. It wasn’t like you needed to cast-on again while knitting that one item. Silly! After felting it was a cream-yellow cotton shopping bag with a long handle and lace pattern in the body of the bag. With my limited skills and lack of experience I remember the frustration of loosing my place and upon finishing realizing that the garter stitch base square didn’t line up with the handles, it was more of a diamond. I didn’t knit for a while.
My junior year I picked up the needles again and began to knit two garter stitch striped double bed sized blankets with acrylic bouclé yarn from Walmart. I thought they were the most amazing thing. I would knit on those while freezing I mean working at the museum. Lots of eldery women commented on my work and I recall the hassle of flipping the giant project over for each row. I believe this was the first time I used circular needles.
My senior year I recall sitting in my parents bedroom/sitting room (more like a second living room) with a certain young man feeding my knitting addiction. I convinced him that it would be fun to read my homework to me while I knit (this was back before audiobooks were as prevalent as they are today). The Boyfriend and I completed several books that way, Huck Fin, Giovanni’s Gift, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, to name a few. I definitely knit those books into my stitches because I remember little else I read that year. I think my mother still has one of these super heavy blankets I knit during that time, but the bag has long since disappeared. I have a pair of the slippers in my garage, teal and blue with thread bear soles. I could never bring myself to throw them away.

Through college there was no knitting. I attempted some quilting but aside from a half finished blanket at my parent’s house there isn’t anything to show for that. After graduation I ended up working in a design department for a men’s clothing company. Even though I was a temp I felt like a major contributor and made major decisions about fabrics, fits, and design details for the clothing line. After working on the first season of sweaters I had an overwhelming desire to create something one of a kind, rather than the mass produced items I was developing. One Friday after work I got yarn at the LYS to make a sweater and a basic knitting book. I rushed home and began a knitting career. We quickly started a knitting group at work and I taught lots of the girls how to knit. I made a tweed top-down raglan sweater with grey tweed yarn. The entire garment is bias (I knit in the back of each stitch in the round) and the sleeves are entirely too short. But I still make a point of wearing that sweater at least once every year.

So there you have it. That’s when I learned to knit. Usually I say I’ve been knitting for five years, since the start of the career with the grey sweater, but really knitting was a part of my life long before that. Have I been knitting since I was 14, when I first followed a pattern? I don’t feel like that’s accurate either since I know I knew how to knit before that.
The Boyfriend laughed when I informed him a couple years ago that knitting was part of my soul and I was certain I had been a knitter in a previous life. I think I blew all my credit with the previous life arguments the day I told him I had obviously been a cat before. That was the only way to explain my affinity for warm sunny rooms and love for all cats, I could do without dogs but never without cats. The Puckish side of me whats to answer the “how long have you been knitting” question by simply saying LIFETIMES, because that is how it feels to me.


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me as you were born with the heart and soul of a lifetime knitter. AP

Teena in Toronto said...

My mother taught me basic stuff when I was a kid ... but I really got it when I went to university. We'd sit in the lounge, yak, watch TV and knit.

Happy blogoversary!