Monday, February 12, 2007

How I learned to Knit

The short answer is - My Gramma.
When I was about 8, my grandmother decided that I needed to learn to do all the things she did. Knit, crochet, tat, embroidery. Gramma's house was filled with the fruits of her labors - her dish- and bath-towels came from boxes of Duz detergent, but she had crocheted edgings on each one, as well as the wash cloths. She had crocheted bottle covers (for the booze) that looked like poodles. She had toilet paper covers that were crocheted, some were cut out of some kind of plastic. She had embroidered pillow cases and table cloths, and had either crocheted or tatted edgings for all of them. I don't remember ever seeing anything knitted - never really thought of it until now - but knitting was the first thing she taught me. She never really liked my mom (probably cause she married gramma's one and only son, and had absolutely NO INTEREST in doing anything "homey"). So, she decided that I needed to learn to knit. I'm left-handed, and Gramma wasn't and I remember this was of great concern - she didn't want me to learn "wrong" or get confused, but my parents had made it VERY clear - I was left-handed, and left-handed I would stay. (They'd heard that trying to make a leftie a rightie made the child stutter. Don't know if that's right or wrong, but I'm mostly ambidextrous, and very grateful that for that part of my life, at least, my parents let me be who I was.)
Anyway, Gramma bought me a pair of size 10 1/2 aluminum needles, saying that the only way to learn was on large needles. I still have them, and they still have the teeth-marks where my gauge was so tight, I had to bite the ends of the needles to get my thread to move down. Pretty tight. I don't remember what the first thing I knitted was, but I remember starting and never finishing stuff for years. I learned to crochet and embroider - finishing most of those projects with no problems. Then, my senior year in high school, they offered a knitting class. AHA! I thought, an easy A, since I already know how to knit! Great plan, except I had to create AND FINISH a garment. As it turned out, it was as easy as I thought it'd be, and my first experience Knitting In Public - when I was bored in my other classes, or nothing much was going on, I knit on the sweater for my knitting class. It was a "classic" Aran sweater. Pullover, with a hood, and a center pocket. I made it out of 2 strands of worsted held together, light blue and beige. It turned out pretty good. I have no idea what happened to it - lost in a move someplace. At one point, one of the boys in my class asked if he could knit on the hood for a while (1X1 ribbing, which I HATE to this day!!). After he convinced me that he could, indeed knit (hyper kid they taught to knit to calm him down), he added at least 2 inches to the hood in one class.
I started knitting again in college - knitting mostly afghans for presents for family & friends. I was "scared" to knit socks or intarsia, or anything that was difficult, because I still thought of myself as a "beginner". Then one day, I decided that I'd try knitting one of those really ugly horse-head sweaters for my step-brother for Christmas. Gramma was gone by then, and I had no one to ask how to do it. I had a friend who lent me her pattern, I bought the yarn, and knit a sweater (first Christmas project that had me up till 2AM finishing, starting a long-standing Christmas tradition in my family). Then, I bought a kit from Herrschnerrs, or Mary Maxim, or one of those companies, and knit myself a bulky sweater with a sort of southwest design in it in 3 days - 3 days in which I didn't move from the couch - and no one had told me that color knitting was hard - didn't know it was the same as intarsia. Then one day I decided to try knitting socks, and for *MONTHS* I knit single socks, using whatever yarns I had, using whatever size dpns I could find. You have no idea how many single socks I still have - never will have matches, cause they're mostly ugly, but they were learning experiences.
So, that's it - I'm mostly fearless, mostly self-taught beyond the basics, and knit mostly from published patterns - adapting them to what I want them to be, rather than knitting EXACTLY as written.


Julie said...

Woohoo! Thanks for the info - very fascinating.

Brewgal said...

Great story!

knitseashore said...

Grandmas are such a great influence, aren't they? She gave you a life-long gift in being willing to try to make things with your hands. Mine mostly sews, but *her* mother was the one that crocheted, knitted, and embroidered everything in sight, and she was a great inspiration to me (though I never knew her).

Hope Star is still feeling wonderful!