Monday, April 26, 2010

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week - Day One

I was taught to knit by my dad's mother when I was fairly young--perhaps about 8 or 9. My wee Scottish grandmother taught both Middle Sister and I at the same time, at her house in Peterborough, and I can remember the small, white, garter stitch square that I produced, and how much it bothered me that it was ridged. I had thought that I would produce something flat and beautiful, with rows of tiny Vs--I had no idea that stockingette would take work. My grandmothers were both quite crafty, although the impression that I have is that my dad's mother knit and crocheted exclusively, where my mum's mother did just about everything under the sun: knitting, crocheting, tatting, sewing, smocking, painting, everything.* One of them made this for one of us girls at some point:

yarn 303

I didn't stick with it, being fairly involved with a number of other creative endeavours (and, of course, having my nose permanently stuck in a book, which made doing anything else pretty difficult). In fact, I wouldn't pick it up again until the summer of 2000, when I started to work at the Historic Site Which Shall Not Be Named. For the first time in my life, a wholly Protestant work ethic asserted itself: I could not stand to be on site without something to do with my hands. I borrowed an Opinel knife, grabbed some kindling, and carved my own cedar knitting needles. (In case you were wondering, cedar is a singularly poor material to make knitting needles out of, as it is so soft that it breaks without much encouragement.) I sort of remembered how to knit from my grandmother's lessons, so I got someone else to cast on for me, and away I went. Even then, I didn't do much with it when I wasn't at work.

Three years after this, I asked Middle Sister what she wanted for Christmas, and she asked me to buy her a knitting book for beginners. As soon as I saw the cover for Stitch'n'Bitch, which has just been published, I knew it was exactly what she was looking for...what I didn't know is that it was what I was looking for, too. I began to knit more frequently, and to choose projects that were actual projects, and not just scarves. I realized quickly that all of the time I had spent knitting in the seventeenth century had led to a lot of creating my own stitches and ways for doing things: I had even figured out a way of purling backwards so that I didn't have to turn my knitting at the end of the row--I would just work back across it. Following patterns meant having to un-learn some of the things I had taught myself, because it made following patterns very difficult. I also wrap the wrong way, which meant that for the first few years that I knit, all of my stitches were twisted. (Rather than changing my wraps, I eventually figured out a way to accomodate for this; it's one of the reasons why my gauge is generally looser than the norm.) When I moved to Guelph to do my MA, I was faced with the reality of living alone in a city where I knew no one and nothing, and knitting became a solace from some of that loneliness. (It also eventually led to some friendships with the other people in my program--there were a lot of knitters that year.)

Knitting means something different to me now than it did back then, but that's the story of how I became a knitter.

*My mother also knits: she went through a fair isle sweater phase that outfitted us three girls, our cousins, and various friends of the family in beautiful pastel sweaters. However, she never really tried to get any of us to knit, perhaps because she is a leftie and all of us girls are right handed.

1 comment:

Jackie said...

We are running a free random draw for a knitting or crochet book. No purchase necessary.
All you have to do is add yourself as a fan or press the "like" button on our Facebook page.
The draw will take place on Mother’s Day May 9th. No country restrictions.

For details and to see the books, please see