Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Learning to Knit

I took up knitting in December, 2005. I had been retired from my hectic teaching job (as a special educator in in middle school and team leader for our department) for six months, had finally relaxed into it, and then realized I needed to be doing something constructive (literally, I wanted to make something) as the holidays approached. I happened to see an ad in the paper from the Burlington Ben Franklin store. They were hosting a Sunday night series of knitting groups with the purpose of making and donating chemo caps. I thought, "I'll do that!"

I had learned to knit--when I was about ten and belonged to 4H. I wasn't very coordinated and I really wasn't very good at it and I never even completed a simple garter stitch scarf. Then in my 20's, I made a baby sweater while I was pregnant for my son. God love him, he wore it for months and it was quite cute. Then I started a cable knit vest for my husband. I finished about 3/4 of the back before completely losing interest, not to mention any available leisure time. That project stayed in a bag, eventually in a box of stuff stored in the attic, for twenty years before just being tossed. The fact that my second knitting project, third if you count the aborted scarf, was a cable knit pattern is revealing, right?

Thirty years later, I arrived early at the Ben Franklin and got a list of materials--a ball of soft yarn and size 7 DPNs. DPNs?? Uhoh. Fortunately there was the store lady and only one other knitter who hadn't done any knitting for a number of years. The store lady let us know she wasn't meant to be teaching us how to knit, but she did. I couldn't even remember really how to cast on, let alone increase stiches. I'd never knitted in the round, never made a hat, but there I sat twisting yarn for two hours. I added stitches inadvertently, dropped stitches, had holes where I switched from one needle to the next. Not one of the three us us actually finished a hat although there were two hat-like starts going.

I took my mess home and immediately ripped the whole thing back to start. I cast on the three starting stitches and increased, tore it out, tried again, and again, and again. By midnight I had a hat-like creation made out of some pretty frazzled yarn. I use it for a dust cloth. I kept at it though.

I read books on how to knit and watched the knitting shows that were on DIY network at the time. I practiced. I started looking at the knitting tables at craft fairs and started talking to friends and relatives about knitting. I knitted hats, socks, mittens, baby sweaters, scarves, bags, and washcloths out of left over yarn. If I'd been smart enough to ask my sister to teach me or to take a beginner class, I might have actually started with the washcloth. But that's the thing about me--I do things the hard way.

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