Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Into My Comfort Zone

I’ve been really knitting for just over 11 years.  The reality is I learned in the mid/late 70s when I was about seven years old, but apart from a few odd pieces (and I mean odd in every sense of the word) I didn’t really pursue knitting.   In the 80s fibre was mostly acrylic.  I’m not here to bash acrylic – I even have some in my stash and I am the first person to agree that it most definitely has a role to play.  But I really do prefer working with natural fibres and since my mother wouldn’t buy them they were so hard to come by in the 80s and expensive when you found them, I didn’t really pursue knitting.  Slowly it dropped off my radar.

In the early 90s, my maternal grandmother died and I inherited (of all things) her knitting needles.  They came in a whisky tube and I have it (and the needles) to this day.  But still, while I found a home for them in a very cramped apartment and tried my hand at knitting (using cotton!), it didn’t really grab me.  Might have had something to do with the cheap cotton string baler twine yarn.  And so the needles languished, unloved and unused in the back of a closet.

In 2000 I became pregnant and lost my job.  Both these events happened within weeks of each other and while the pregnancy had absolutely nothing to do with the job loss, it did leave me at a bit of a loose end as it’s pretty hard to get a job when you’re visibly pregnant.  At this time I was doing a lot of cross stitch.  This is the last piece I was working on and I still have it on a frame. But this isn’t what pregnant women do.  They are supposed to sip tea, get moderate exercise and knit baby clothes. 

So that’s what I did.  And since I really had nothing else to do other than the groceries, I knit.  And knit.  And knit some more.  I remember going to Zellers and picking up a little booklet on ‘How to knit’, a set of needles and a ball of cotton yarn.  I went home and made a facecloth, ripped it out and did it again.   I did this over and over and played with different stitches until I had a comfort level with the needles and had sorted out my tensioning of the yarn.  I’m sure my husband thought I was coming unhinged with boredom – there I was knitting a square and ripping it out, then knitting it up again and ripping it out….  Then I picked up a booklet of baby patterns.   Then I got a booklet of adult sweater patterns as well as my first skeins of real wool…you can see where this is going right?

Based on what my mother taught me as a little girl, I was able to figure out stranded knitting, cables, knitting in the round (that involved a visit home to figure out this ‘joining’ business) and knitting on double pointed needles.  This time I was hooked.  I’m the first to admit that not everything has turned out well.  Some things have been spectacular, some have been spectacular failures but I have an ease with wool and needles that leaves me fearless when approaching new patterns and techniques.  That being said, I still can’t bring myself to cut a steek – I think that’s going to be the next big thing.

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