16 June 2009

On the Knitting Front

Looking back, I have been in love with the fiber arts for a very long time. I think it really started when my Oma taught me to cross-stitch that week she stayed with us while Mom and Dad were in Germany, I was 10. I still remember that first project too: screen-printed flowers on a muslin-type material, I still have it, it's still unfinished; something about my perfectionism and those pesky french knots that kept me from ever finishing that particular sampler. I have gone on to finish many more projects over the years, gave many as gifts, and I still have many languishing in a box labeled "unfinished x-stitch projects". Maybe I'll finish those one day.

Around the same time as my introduction to cross-stitch, I learned how to sew with a sewing machine. I think I had already done some hand sewing, making little things for my dollhouse or a little pillow for my dolls, I don't really remember learning how to sew that well, it's one of those things I feel like I've always done. Anyway, I ended up making both my junior and senior prom dresses in high school. I still have those, and a stack of patterns and fabric I'd like to get back to eventually.

I think it was in those same elementary years that I received my knitting knoddy from Oma, a red and white mushroom. I made yards and yards of knitted tubes with it and sewed them into various shapes, some of them ended up in my dollhouse too. I also learned how to make a crocheted chain, this was an art Mom and I worked on together. Unfortunately, I never got past the chain stage at that time.

Hurtle through those teenage years, I was content sewing and cross-stitching, really enjoyed them and excelled in those arts.

I picked crocheting back up as an adult, Joseph was a baby and I had just begun watching kids at home and I needed something to occupy my "off" time. So I started crocheting again, I learned how to make some really pretty doilies and started working on a couple afghans. The doilies got completed, the afghans are in a box labeled "unfinished crochet".

My sister is the one who introduced me to knitting. She came to visit, bearing a fuzzy blue yarn and size 8 needles. One of her friends in college had just showed her how to knit and she wanted to share her new-found knowledge with me. Thank you Becka!

We struggled with the yarn and needles that night, the yarn was too bulky for that size needles, I know that now, but neither of us understood it then. I think I must have gone out and picked up some yellow yarn, or found some in my little stash of crochet yarn, I also bought myself a book to help me out. So with Becka's first instruction and my new yarn and book, I launched myself into a new art which at times seems to overtake my life. The first thing I knit was a bright yellow acrylic square, I think it's still floating around somewhere. After mastering the knit and purl stitches, I naturally moved on to something that I wanted to knit for myself...a pair of socks! Since I had no one to tell me that socks are supposed to be difficult, I just looked for a pattern online bought the required yarn (it was acrylic, not having been introduced to the joys of knitting with natural fibers yet) and needles and launched into it. Before too long, I had my very first pair of purple socks. From there, there were no limits to what I could do.

I think the next thing I did was buy myself a sock knitting pattern book, The Sock Calendar. And then I visited my local yarn store, and I learned about knitting socks in wool...this was love!

I discovered the wonderful online community associated with the fiber arts and thus began another adventure. I originally began this blog so long ago as a way to share my arts with others (and to show off my kids). So if you scroll back through the archives, you'll see some of the many items I've knit both for myself and for others. I joined Ravelry.com, perfect for my list-making tendencies, I can organize all my list of my books, pdfs, yarns and needles, and it's all electronic!

Sadly, with graduate school and life in general, all of these loves had been put aside for a while. I am now finding the importance of carving out the time to indulge in these little pleasures again. Mom reminded me the other day how knitting seems to calm me the best, and I have now remembered that, having picked up the needles again.

I've almost finished a swiffer cover, have been working on Becka's bridal shawl (which will now be a christening shawl when the time comes) and have picked up my beautiful Clessidra socks again. I am finding peace in the repetition of the stitches, the yarn running through my hands and the occupation of my mind with the pattern.

No comments: