Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Knit-a-versary to Me, or Oh, My Goodness, She's Still Alive!

I cannot believe it’s been nearly a month since my last blog post. I planned to post about my first three years of knitting exploits in October, the month of my actual knitting anniversary, but there’s been too much going on at work and so little time to blog. Better late than never, I say!

Knitting has become such an important part of my life that I have a hard time remembering what I did with my time before I learned to knit, other than reading and writing, of course. Since the novel I’m writing is creeping along at a snail’s pace, I’m sure not all of my free time was spent with my journal and pen!

I sort of stumbled upon knitting when my husband and The Girl were browsing a local craft store to get ideas for homemade Christmas gifts. While they went to the wood section, I walked up and down the aisles of yarn remembering how I would steal bits and pieces of cheap acrylic from my grandmother as a kid so I could make friendship bracelets. I saw samples of knitted sweaters, scarves, and hats and thought it would be fun to make my own garments, but I left that evening with only a few cross-stitch kits.

I went home and thought more about learning to knit, not knowing a single person who could teach me. The very next day, I surfed the Web and was completely overwhelmed by the vast amount of how-to-knit resources and free patterns. The indecipherable abbreviations throughout the patterns put me off, but it seemed less daunting when I learned that I only had to master two stitches and I’d be on my way!

So I took the plunge. I printed scores of how-to pages and free patterns. I took numerous knitting books out of the library, and I purchased a few pairs of aluminum straight needles, a few skeins of cheap acrylic, and a Lion Brand learn-to-knit kit.

It was a bumpy road. It took me a few days to knit a coaster-sized swatch, and it took me a week to learn to purl. I’d been paging through various books in search of pictures and explanations that made the most sense, to no avail. I must’ve been dreaming about knitting one night soon after (the early signs of addiction!), and I bolted out of a deep sleep at 1 a.m. with the sudden realization that I knew how to purl. My fingers itched to see if I really had it all figured out, but my alarm was set to blare at 4 a.m., and I really am a bear without enough rest. Now I can purl in my sleep (and I actually have knit while in a state of semi-consciousness…and it was NOT a pretty sight).

I look back on my first projects with a mixture of fondness and embarrassment. I’d made a Christmas list, purchased a boatload of craft store yarn, and gave my husband a heart attack when I explained the concept of a stash, given the lack of space for the essentials in our small townhouse.

I started practicing stitch patterns by knitting dish/wash cloths and unloading them on seemingly grateful family and friends. However, I had yet to grasp the concept of weaving in the yarn ends and simply snipped the yarn after I bound off the stitches. I did go back before gifting them, thankful that I’d left the ends long enough to weave in sufficiently.

I was so proud to knit my husband tube socks in the first month of learning to knit. I was scared of double-pointed needles, so a two-needle pattern with some seaming (which I’d never done before) seemed like a safe bet. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand what the pattern meant when it said to leave the last few stitches live and pull the yarn tail through them; I bound off as usual and “sewed” the edges together—a mess that he lovingly wore until they were almost as holey as Swiss cheese! I think he still has them in the back of his sock drawer, as I was forbidden to throw them away (though I tried). How I love that man!

Learning to knit may not have been the best thing at first for an obsessive-compulsive perfectionist, but I could not live without it now. Knitting is an escape, and I like to plop on the couch after a hard day and reach for the needles like someone else might ask for a massage, pop open a beer, or hop in a warm bubble bath. I want to forget about all the money problems, the stresses of motherhood, my inability to flesh out a character or a plot point in my book, or whatever else is pressing down hard on my spirit. I want to lose myself in the rhythmic clacking of the needles, the softness of the yarn, the motion of knitting stitch after stitch. I’ve recently discovered the joys of knitting for charity, as thinking about the intended recipient fills me with gratitude for my blessings.

There are scores of things I haven’t done yet with regard to knitting, so I know there is a lot in store for me. I have yet to finish a sweater for myself, and I hope to complete at least one in the coming year. I’ve never tackled intarsia, Fair Isle, lace shawls, or toe-up socks. And there are scores of cast-on methods I’ve never tried. And I’d love to learn to crochet!

But I’m not setting any goals or self-imposed deadlines. I want to convince myself that it’s okay to take risks with my knitting, but I don’t want it to become a chore.

Anyone want to share their learning-to-knit mishaps or the reasons they love to knit?

(I've got plenty of books to talk about and finished projects to display. Please bear with me. I hope to be posting more frequently!)


Serena said...

a whole year you are more dedicated than I. LOL i have scrapbooking and reading and writing and that fills my plate enough. LOL

Congrats on reaching the one year anniversary and surpassing it. Keep trucking and I expect another pair of jaywalkers in my future! LOL

Anna said...

Three years go by's hard to believe it's been that long! You'd figure I'd have more to show for it! LOL

How 'bout I knit you some jaywalkers, and you put a scrapbook for me on your to-do list! ;)

Serena said...

LOL you are too funny! scrapbook! What you think I am a factory! LOL JK...we'll see about that.

Anna said...

Sure you are! If I can churn out the knits, you can churn out the pics! LOL

Dawn said...

Time does fly huh? Lol!! I think I've been knitting around 3 years too. What a great post! Gives us a lot to think about! There's a lot I still haven't gotten around to either, but you're right, It should stay something we enjoy no matter what we're making!

Rachel said...

Okay, here's my embarrassing learn-to-knit story. It took me days to learn to knit ribbing because I didn't understand that "knitting the knits and purling the purls" didn't mean knitting the stitches that you knit on the previous meant knitting the stitches that appeared as knits on the current row. That almost broke my brain.

Anna said...

Thanks for sharing! I'm glad I'm not alone with the entertaining learn-to-knit stories.

I also had a difficult time learning to read the stitches on the needles until I read somewhere that the knit stitch wears a scarf in a V and the purl stitch looks like it's strangling itself with its scarf!

Serena said...

woah...way too much technical knitting talk for me.

Anna said...

Have your eyes glazed over yet?? ;)