Monday, April 26, 2010

Knitting and Crocheting Blog Week. Day 1

When I read Eskimimi knit's idea about knitting & crocheting bloggers all posting about the same topic each day for a week, I was hooked. What great reading this should make.

Day 1 - Getting Started - or - What Made Me First Pick Up The Needles.

I did not learn to knit as a child. There were no knitters in my family, or in our circle of friends. Well, there was that one time - about grade ten - when the Home-Ec teacher announced that our knitting projects were due next week.

As one, the entire class asked "What knitting project?" The teacher thought of course that we were being smart-a----. But , I swear on all my high school reports cards, our class had not been told. Unwilling to believe us, she said no extension would be granted. Knitting projects due next week.

Most girls had Moms or Grandmas who knit. Some wonderful projects were turned in: Fancy baby sweaters, complete layettes and gorgeous mittens and hats. Me? I tried for a square, garter stitch, pot holder. Tried and failed, I might add. Wonky, irregular stitches in a free-form, convoluted shape did not garner a passing grade.

My knitting life didn't start until I was in my thirties. By that time, I had two children and needed something (something legal, that is) to detract from the constant work that comes with a full time job, a husband, a house and two kids. My interest in fibre surfaced when I saw a notice about a 'How To knit' night class being held at the high school. I talked my Mom into coming with me. She would take the crochet class, while I took knitting.

What this said about my Mom was all love, devotion and selflessness. My Mom would often say that she didn't even know how to sew on a button. Being the youngest of three children and admittedly a bit spoiled, she was never made to take up the wifely pursuits of needlework. She came to class simply as a way to spend time with her daughter. That would be on the drive over and back home as we were in separate classes.

Mom started with intentions to crochet a bedspread. What followed became family folklore. She purchased pounds and pounds of crochet cotton and the right-sized hook. It didn't take too many double crochets to convince Mom that she had bitten off more than she wanted to hook. She changed the bedspread to a table cloth. A few rounds later and the table cloth became place mats, which eventually became a set of coasters. An entire winter of classes and yet, coaster number one sat for years - perhaps, still does - unfinished, in the drawer.

While my Mom tolerated the class time, I took to it like a duck to water. I don't remember my first project but I do remember pouring over this book
as if it contained the gift of life itself. In those days before 'you tube' , ravelry and the resurgence of knitting amongst the younger generation, it was not easy to find 'help'. You were on your own for every facet of the craft from buying yarn to reading patterns. It didn't help me much to know that the picture on the front of the book was meant to say that even a monkey could learn to knit. Imagine how I felt, when I realized my knitting IQ was less than that needle-holding primates!

I can remember ripping out more than I knit. There were awful, awful sweaters and taking months to complete what I now would see as the simplest of projects. I can remember stitches so tight that the needle had to be sledge-hammered in and not knowing what I was doing or where the instructions were taking me. I can remember changing that really, hard-to-do SSK to a K2tog because I was sure there was a mistake in the pattern. One side said to K2tog. Why wouldn't' the other side be the same?

Despite all that and despite, of course, those awful sweaters never being worn, I was in love. I can remember stealing time from housework and story-time to knit. I can remember barely being 'in the room' while the kids played games on rainy days, because I was so caught up in my knitting. It was a life-line for me at that time in my life. Heck it still is.

Some sweaters are still not worn. Some instructions still baffle me. Still no one in my family knits - or even truly understands the passion I have for knitting. Yet, I knit on. I started because there was an innate need to hold fibre in my hands. I knit today for the same reason.


Sel and Poivre said...

When I saw this proposal on line I wondered if any of the blogs I followed would follow fun to know how you started out with the sticks and string!

Anne Campbell said...

Interesting story! I particularly like the part about taking a class with your mother. My daughter and I took a spinning class together a few years ago, and that started her dyeing, which is now her full-time career. And we took the class at least in part for "company" time with each other. It is fun to reminisce.

ieva said...

Very interesting story, especially that part about bedspread.

Gisella said...

I am so pleased that I am not the only one who didn't "get" SSK! Thanks for making me feel lots better about that, even though it's such a long time ago and I ought to have gotten over that by now. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

My Mom also had the "Monkey Book" as I always called it - that book is the BEST!! You're so lucky to have a copy of it. My Mom taught me the stitches when I was a child but I could not figure out directions very well until I started taking classes as an adult. I'm so thankful she got me started and she is too as she is the recipient of many knitted gifts! :O)