Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thoughts about knitting

I cleaned out some of my old knitting notebooks recently and came across a hilarious essay I wrote about knitting when I was 18 -- four years into my "knitting adventures." I thought I would share it with you so you can laugh at me and with me....

"My adventures in knitting began when I was 14. Oh, sure, I had taken up knitting needles before that time, but never seriously.

My inspiration came from a conversation I overheard between my
mother and a friend of my mom's. The friend was lamenting the fact that it was hard to find a good wool sweater. My mother, who had made many knitted items for me and my sisters growing up, suggested she try knitting a sweater. The friend of my mother's never did take up knitting, but I did.

Soon I was begging my mom to take me to a knitting shop to buy some wool. I couldn't afford much at the time. I had to fund this project myself and only had the $3 a week I got for mowing our lawn. But I was happy with my purchase -- a hunter green bulky wool/acrylic blend to make a pullover sweater.

I worked diligently on that first sweater, often taking my knitting to the kitchen after school to knit and talk to my mom as she made dinner. I finished the sweater and wore it with pride those first few weeks. But alas, it was bulky and ill fitting and made me, an already chubby child, look even chubbier. And I missed the feel of pure wool. I vowed to never touch acrylic again. It was soon thrown to the back of the closet and forgotten. But I was hooked on knitting.

I dug up my Scottish grandmother's needles and found and old picture of her knitting in Long Island, New York with her friends. With that inspiration I began wool vests for me, my mom and my two sisters. It became a Christmas tradition for me to make them wool vests for Christmas. Unfortunately it was hard to hide what I was doing and they would always know about their presents
ahead of time.

During my first trip to Scotland I started the tradition of buying wool as a souvenir and made a lacey vest from wool purchased from the wool mills at New Lanark.

This past year when I went again to Scotland I bought wool, again, for two more vests.

NOTE: the two vests turned into a fair isle pullover which then turned into this tea cozy. My knitting always gets recycled.... I know, it's a bad habit of mine. But when you only had $3 a week for yarn you learn to reuse and reknit things....

My knitting has changed. I am more interested in fine gauge, old fashioned patterns. But my mantra for pure wool remains the same. So much so I took up spinning to support my knitting habit.

I am by no means finished learning all the techniques I need for knitting. I consider myself a beginner. But I love the inspiration and excitement I feel as the fiber passes through my hands to my two bamboo sticks and is shaped into a warm and cozy garment. There is just something delightfully wonderful about that process.

Perhaps it is strange to say, but as I knit and create I do feel oddly closer to the women before me who, out of dire necessity, washed, carded, spun, plied and knitted garments for themselves and their loved ones. May the process never end.

1 comment:

Elisabeth said...

Your essay is so sweet! Nothing to laugh at, especially since it was written by an 18-year-old. And the knitting is very pretty!