As many of you know, I am a knitter. I’ve knitting for roughly the same number of years as I’ve been writing, and my writing marathons often alternate with knitting marathons. My first memory of knitting was when I was 9 when I was given a kit for a pink knitted minidress. The kit came with acrylic pink yarn, huge wooden needles (comparable to a US size 17) and instructions. What I managed to knit was not a minidress, but some kind of tangled mess.
And yet, I was hooked (so to speak) from that day forward.
Over the next ten years, I knitted with whatever I could find (we were a family of few means), even some spools of synthetic yarn that a high school friend discovered in her basement. If people gave me yarn, I would knit them something. While that sounds awfully generous of me, keep in mind that I was still learning to knit (I am self-taught) and so I’m not sure that my “gifts” were always appreciated or desired.
I’ve have several peaks and valleys with my knitting (just like with my writing) over the past 40-odd years. One Christmas, when I was still a teenager, I went crazy and knitted, crocheted, or needlepointed a Christmas gift for every one in my immediate family. Ahhh, the good old days when I was a mere college student and had time enough to knit, read, and write.
During a brief sojourn at a private college, I took a spinning and weaving class. So then I had to add spinning and weaving to my hobbies. The best education I got out of that particular college was learning to spin and weave. Rather than return for another quarter, I left college and bought a 36-inch floor loom with what would have been my tuition money. But these were mere detours along my knitting path. I enjoyed weaving immensely but in spite of even bringing the loom with me all the way from upstate NY to Oakland, CA, I could never embrace it as I did my knitting. With knitting, all you really need is yarn and a needle (I say a needle because I work almost exclusively with circular needles). Weaving requires much more preparation before you even start weaving. By contrast, spinning is also “simpler” if you buy your wool already carded and you’re happy to sit and spin with a small spindle. Eventually the loom and the spinning wheel were sold to a friend, while I continued to buy every possible length and size of knitting needle.
Fast forward to where I live now. Still knitting by choice, but my knitting has changed quite a bit. I don’t like sewing up the pieces of a sweater: easing the top of the sleeve into the armhole; trying to sew the sides together; and then finding holes in the seams. I’ve knitted cardigans, the bane of my existence because not only do they require piecing together but they also have (shudder) buttonholes to contend with. It’s not that I can’t knit well enough; I just find finishing to be annoying. When I’m done knitting, I want my knitting to be done and immediately wearable. So now I knit socks, shawls, scarves. Occasionally I’ll see a pattern that looks intriguing enough that I’ll give piecing another go. As with this shrug:
The pattern (Kimono Shrug) was quite easy, but the yarn (Noro Silk Garden) was actually a bit difficult to work with. It’s a blend of wool and silk and silk isn’t elastic like wool; that is, it doesn’t yield as nicely to being pulled and looped. Sometimes I felt like I was trying to knit with rope. But the effect of the yarn, the colors and the pattern, are worth the effort.
I’m sending this shrug to a friend who lives in California. She’s an artist (mixed-media). I’ve knitted for her before. In the distant past, we even bartered a few times, my knitting in exchange for her illustrating some patterns that I wrote and tried to sell. In all honesty, I didn’t set out to make this shrug for her, but, once it was completed, I just kept thinking of how much Jennifer might like it. How it might keep her warm when she’s working in her warehouse studio. How it might flatter her (and me) if she wore it to one of her openings. So I wore it twice to confirm that, yes, it does drape nicely and is warm without being too warm. But it’s off to Jennifer, and I hope she likes it.
So what hobbies do you have? What else do you look forward to doing, besides reading and writing? Do you like to restore antique cars? Brew your own beer? Cross-stitch? Sew? Let me know in the comment section 😉