Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Prodigal Knitter

I learned to knit when I was in the 4th grade, and loved it. Mania set in at once - that textile high of the finished piece. Just knitting back and forth wasn't enough; I had to make something. Pot holders were not only passe, they were unneeded - my grandmother made enough for an army, and they were good ones. I had no idea of gauge or weight or patterns or needle sizes; I could cast on, knit and cast off: and that was IT. I made a hilarious scarf out of scraps my grandmother gave me - it strongly presaged Tom Baker's Dr. Who scarf, except for the way it was 6 inches wide at one end and 14 at the other. I made knitted sheathes and leggings for my (one) Barbie doll and (several) stuffed animals, and even managed to cobble together a sweater for one of them by sewing several tubes together. Badly. But the feeling of accomplishment was great.

Before long, though, I came to grief over the necessity of financing my new obsession. I was making stretchy hairbands and selling them at school to my classmates. The nuns at my parochial school objected to this cottage industry - especially since I was knitting in class and on the playground whenever I had a spare moment - and ultimately put a stop to me. Sadly, the experience was so souring that after a mere year as a limited but dedicated knitter - I quit. Just put down my needles and gave up.

Over the years I experimented with embroidery, cross-stitch and crochet; I learned to sew and how to make costumes be real clothing. But nothing was ever as entertaining as that first rush of knitting had been.

About four years ago, I decided to try again. Some of my friends are truly inspired knitters, and generous with their time and advice - and in the decades between stopping and starting again, knitting had evolved amazingly ... All the new yarns! All the new textures! Entire stores dedicated to yarn - in 1963, you took your chances on whatever 4-strand Red Heart acrylic was to be found at the local Woolworth's, and that was about it. No hand spun, no hand dyed, no blends; no cotton, silk, or bamboo; no eyelash, no boucle, no chunky.

Man, it's been great! My bedroom is awash in yarn; my stash is close to achieving its own gravitational field. I've completed a sweater. I've done original scarves and hats. I've got three projects going at once, never go anywhere without my knitting, and no longer carry a purse: I carry a knitting bag, and my wallet and keys take up the smallest pocket.

I'm home!

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