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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Closet Knitting Confession

Every fall I get this  urge to buy some yarn and do some knitting.  I have no idea where this feeling  comes from.  I'm really not very good at knitting. I'm never really sure what I could knit that would be easy enough, yet useful.  Since this urge hits me every year, I have a lot of scarves!

I remember learning the very basics of  knitting as a pretty little kid. I come from a line of very accomplished seamstresses and knitting was part of the package. My memories aren't very clear except I remember countless times taking a ball of yarn and needles to my mother and asking her to cast on for me. For some reason, the casting on was the difficult part, although I can't imagine why that was so. I guess the hardest part of any project is sometimes getting started. She patiently did it every time and I don't remember her ever insisting that I learn how to do that myself. Hmm...

At some point I must have learned the skill because I remember knitting in University and Mom wasn't there to do the casting on! After classes and supper we used to end up meeting in the dormitory hallway, each one of us with a knitting project. Icelandic sweaters where "in" at the time and they weren't something you bought, they were something you created, so we were all doing it.  Great bags of multi-colored yard and round knitting needles.  So many of us would end up there over the course of the evening that we always met in the hall- never in someone's room- not enough space.  We be lined up on both sides of the hallway in more or less a circle so that we could see and hear everyone- our knitting in the middle. We knitted and talked, knitted and complained,knitted and philosophized,  knitted and cried,  knitted and laughed. It was very addictive. You'd tell yourself you'd just finish one more row and then you'd go study, or go to bed, but by the end of that row, it seemed like a better stopping point would be just those few more  rows of pattern, or just to the end of that section etc. etc.  We had some long knitting nights. I guess it was our therapy.

It must have worked, because most of those knitters are now doctors, or bankers, accountants or CEO's. A couple are lawyers. At least one is a psychologist.  For the most part we were a pretty "hard core science" lot. Interestingly, there wasn't much representation from the fine arts side in our knitting group.  Maybe those guys were knitting masterpieces that were a bit above our skill level!

I have come to realize that you never know who will be a knitter.  Unlike previous generations where everyone knit as a survival skill, my friends tend to be "closet knitters".  It's not something we advertise.  We don't knit in public and we don't consider it as a skill set we talk about much. We think others would be surprised to learn we sometimes knit, and yet we aren't really that surprised when we find our friends knitting. It does give me the sense that I've found  a kindred spirit when I accidentally discover a "closet knitter" though. I had that feeling yesterday when I checked into a friends blog.  I love her writing and appreciate her spirit and this blog posting is amazing.  I am awed by her insights and her willingness to share.

For me at least, there are probably a lot of reasons why I don't exactly advertise my knitting fetish, and the reasons have probably changed over time. When I was younger I would  been embarrassed to whip out my knitting in public. I'm pretty sure I would have taken a bit of heat and ridicule from the guys if I had gone to work with my knitting basket. In more recent years I think I would have kept my knitting projects to myself because I didn't  want people to think I had the "leisure time" to knit. Surely I was way to busy multi-tasking and producing to allow myself the peaceful luxury of knitting. Thankfully, I've given up on those emotional layers.
You can probably tell a lot from another person's knitting. My stitches tend to be a bit uneven, my results just a little bit misshaped, always bigger than the pattern suggested. I never go back to pick up a drop stitched. I just kind of fix it up as best I can and make up for it later. Probably a good indication of Impatiens and Clematis traits from the Bach flower line. Some people are Rock Water knitters.  Their stitches are perfect.  They would unravel back rows and rows to fix a stitch, although it's rare they would ever drop one in the first place. Some people have multiple unfinished knitting projects all on the go at the same time- Wild Oat comes to mind. Some people never knit from a pattern, they just trust their inner guidance- Cerato. Some people spend a long time in the yard store trying to decide whether they should get the red or the blue yard- Scleranthus. Some people can't handle the sound of the clicking needles or the feel of the wool on their fingers- Beech. People that are envious of your knitting or the fact that you can find time to knit might find some Holly helpful. People that would like to knit but just aren't sure they could figure out the pattern might need a bit of Larch.  Those that feel guilty that they don't knit might think about Pine. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

So I bought some yarn, I've made a couple of pairs of socks and I'm starting on matching mittens.  The pattern looked pretty daunting at first for the socks.  But if I don't read ahead, or look at the instructions until I get to that point, it makes perfect sense.  If I just do what the pattern suggests, each row at a time, they come out like a Heather version of the picture. They are kind of big, definitely look hand-made, but they feel great and I've taken family requests.  I've made a red pair of socks for myself- very grounding.

I've come out of the closet with my knitting- literally.  I've arranged my balls of yarn and my needles in an old wooden bowl that used to be my mothers.  She kept balls of yarn in it too, although I rarely saw her knit anything. The yarn looks beautiful in there and it's easy to access in a hurry if I get an urge to knit a row. Every time I look at the bowl I'm reminded of my roots and I think about the encouragement I've had to do some pretty crazy things over the years whether I was good at them or not. I remember the help I had, no questions asked,  with "casting on". For that I am eternally gratefully.

Happy knitting!

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