Saturday, November 20, 2010

How I Came to Be a Knitter

Hello Knitters,

For all of you out there who may not know the back story on how I came to be a knitter I thought I'd share it with you today.  I'm always fascinated with how people start up the craft and what kind of role it plays in their lives so I thought some of you might be interested in hearing my story.

My Grandma on my Mom's side was the most fantastic knitter I have ever met.  She could see a pattern in Vogue and design her own sweater to look just like it - and this was back in the 80's when there were tons of colour knitting and lots of cables, bobbles and the such.  She would make up her own charts and do her own calculations....she was just all around amazing with the craft.  I remember as a girl sitting on the floor leaning on her knees and watching her knit all these sweaters.  I was just fascinated!  I'd ask loads of questions about why she was doing this or that and how things would work, just trying to figure out the ins and outs of this whole knitting thing.  She would never teach me though because I'm left-handed and she thought she would have to reverse everything for me to get it.  But I do remember that even as a very young girl I wanted to know how to do this.  My Mom was the one who actually taught me when I was probably around 8 or 9 - I honestly don't remember exactly how old I was.  She didn't think I needed any special treatment, so she taught me how to knit right-handed, and since my Grandma is from Finland and knits Continental, that's how I learned too. My first project was a baby blue and yellow striped scarf for my Dad for Christmas. The scarf never made it under the Christmas tree that year, or any other year for that matter.  It got shoved into the back of my doll clothes cupboard where I would take it out from time to time and work a row or two, but it never did get finished.  I lost my interest in knitting as I went through my early teen years and didn't really think about it again until the summer I was 15.  My best friend and cousin TL, was babysitting some of our cousins and asked me if I wanted to come with her.  She just happened to be knitting a blanket at the time, so I thought I'd bring along some supplies to make one too.  That way we'd have something to do together.  I chose some off-white worsted weight yarn and cast on for a baby blanket.  I found it so much fun to be knitting with another person, since even though my Mom taught me, she didn't knit, she just knew how.  I enjoyed it so much during those few weeks that we got together.  However, summer was soon over and we weren't hanging out together as often, so I let the blanket make it's way to the back of the closet and never picked it up again.  I might have made a scarf or two after this, but no serious knitting took place until I was 17.  I distinctly remember my Mom and I took a trip to Petoskey for the day in late September or early October that year and stopped at this adorable yarn store called The Dutch Oven Yarn Shop.  At that time I was going through a LOT of stress and knitting was what I felt drawn to to help me cope and calm down.  I picked up some really pretty yarn and some wooden Brittany needles and went to town knitting scarf after scarf after scarf.  I didn't even have plans for them or really care who got them; all that I cared about was that I was knitting to keep my sanity.  I kept that up until after Christmas when I got sick and really wasn't able to do much, not even knit.  I picked it back up again the next summer when I was on vacation with my Mom, my sister and Aunt R.  It was right before my best friend from childhood was getting married and I was nervous to walk down the isle - knitting just seemed like the thing to turn to.  Somehow this book about knitting things with size US 50 needles (I think that's what it was) happened to hop into my suitcase and come along for the ride.  Since this was supposed to be a relaxing vacation, especially for my very over-worked sister who had some time off from University, everyone was just taking their time relaxing, reading, napping and the such.  Well, if you know me even a little bit you know that I can't sit still for very long before I HAVE to be doing something, anything, it honestly doesn't even matter what it is.  So at one of these moments, I came across the book and begged my Mom to take me to the nearest yarn store.  We found one a few miles away and it felt like an oasis!!  I got some yarn and the huge needles called for in the book, and once back at the resort I cast on immediately and was finished my first scarf in about an hour.  I remember my aunt being surprised I had finished so soon.  After the wedding was over, I dropped the knitting for the most part, only making a few scarves here and there.  When I was 18 I was very sick so my Mom and I took a trip to Florida for 7 weeks in the fall to help me relax and work on getting better.  One day we went to Michael's and I found the first Stitch 'n' Bitch book.  I took it back to our house and read it at night before bed.  The book was a complete eye-opener!  I had no idea that knitting could be so much fun or that you could make stylish, fun, and quirky things.  It wasn't long before I made my way back to Michael's, only this time to buy some yarn and needles.  During the evenings I would knit until my heart was content making scarves and then hats.  Now these weren't the "in-the-round" type of hats, they were the "seamed-up-the-back" type.  And since I really didn't like seaming, that fell to my Mother, who would seam as fast as I would knit.  My sister and her friend A came to visit us for the weekend, and by the time they both went back to snowy, cold Canada, they each had a hat to keep them warm.  I mailed my sister her matching scarf a few days later.  I kept this up the entire time we were there.  Once home though, I got sicker and wasn't able to knit anymore.  My mind just couldn't comprehend the patterns.  It was really hard for me to give it up, but I just couldn't understand anymore.  When I started to recover, I knew I was on the right path the day I started knitting a pair of mittens on two needles.  It made me so happy to be able to make something with my hands again.  This time I stuck with it, however I was pretty limited as to what I could do.  I made a ton of those "fun-fur" scarves and sold them at a Christmas bazaar one year along with some handbags I had sewn.  In the fall of 2008 I stumbled across Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's book "Free-Range Knitter" and let me tell you, I was amazed how there was someone out there writing stories about knitting, and not only that, they were good!!  I enjoyed that book so much that I asked for the rest of her books for Christmas.  I spent the whole holiday pouring over them.  I gained so much confidence and knowledge from her.  I was ready for a challenge!!  On January 23, 2009 I got up the nerve to try something new; to start out on an adventure:  About a year earlier my Mom had ordered me Susan B Anderson's book Itty-Bitty Hats and I was so excited for it to arrive, but when it did, all the hats were knit in the round....I didn't know how to knit in the round.  So I woefully put the book away and tried to forget about it.  However, now that I had all this new confidence I marched downstairs and got the book.  I started at the beginning with the first simple rolled-brim cap and since I didn't have any 16" circular needles, I cast on and knit the whole thing on DPNs.  That was my first time ever using DPNs and I had no idea how to knit in the round with them, but Susan's book was so well detailed that I caught on pretty quick and was off and running.  Things were making sense and knitting was even more fun than I ever imagined!  Of course as they were published, I purchased Itty-Bitty Nursery and Itty-Bitty Toys. With each one I've learned more and more: these were the books that taught me how to k2tog, ssk, m1, cast on properly (since I was doing it wrong all those other years), weave in ends and sew on appliques, among many other things.  Now knitting is a part of my everyday life.  It's something I enjoy and turn to in times of happiness and especially in times of stress.  I find it comforting and relaxing and just an all around great thing to do and I am so thankful to everyone who has helped and inspired me along my journey!!  And most importantly I thank the Lord for giving me the talent in the first place and bringing everything into my life at just the right time.  It has been an amazing journey and I'm excited to see what's next!!

Happy Knitting!!

1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful testimony to how the Lord gives us what we need when we need it, and how He uses what He's given us to meet those needs. Knitting is a catharsis for me as it's filled many lonely hours, and enables me to bless others. I'm excited to see what's next for you too!