My Knitting, My Self

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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.

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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:

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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.

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 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 😉

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35 thoughts on “My Knitting, My Self

  1. I’m similar in that I love embroidery and needlework but hate to follow a motif. I prefer to make it up as I go along. I’m jealous of your crochet skills though. Such a lush textile.

    • Thank you! I’ve done embroidery and needlepoint in the distant past. I enjoyed both but it seems like I always would rather be knitting 🙂 For a few years I tried writing my own knitting patterns, but I’m not good at math and I’m not “visionary.” It’s much easier for me to just find a pattern I like and follow it. This shrug is one of the very few times I actually used the exact yarn (color and weight) called for in the pattern. Thanks for your comments!

  2. Oh my gosh! That’s beautiful! I really impressed with this – and I just love the colors and it all looks sooo soft.
    I’m a balcony gardener. I like ferns and spider plants and ivy. Greens – with a small bougainvillea thrown in for color. Quiet and relaxing – and like knitting – eventually there is a finished product that lives on 🙂
    Nice to hear from you…
    Ellespeth

  3. That’s beautiful, Marie! I have a friend who knits. Each year, we tell each other that she’s going to teach me. It’s the New Year’s resolution we never quite manage!

  4. I just started knitting, and I love it! I was never a “crafty” person; even as a young girl I was too busy writing and imagining to work with my hands. But now I find great comfort in using knitting to help my mind relax, and I’m still in awe of the process–“I made that?!!”
    Thanks for sharing and letting us commenters share with you.

    • My pleasure, Anna! Thank you for coming by and commenting. Knitting can be very relaxing and I find that sometimes it even helps me sort out my writing. And after all these years of knitting, I still am fascinated by the idea of making things I can wear 🙂

  5. what a beauty piece of clothing. i love the colors. i have always wanted to learn to knit. I used to crochet, hooking rugs and needlepoint and i go through episodes where i do a lot of needlepoint and then i have my droughts, which is where i am right now. 🙂

  6. Beautiful! I haven’t tried the noro yarn yet but I always find myself looking at it. I have to admit that I love spinning more than knitting or weaving, so you should let me know what colors you would like to have because I’ve decided to spin and share!

    • Thanks, Meg! I got the Noro on sale (of course … it’s kind of expensive otherwise) as well as the book. The shrug is one of the very times when I actually used the yarn called for in the pattern, right down to the color lot 🙂 Spinning is very fun. I really enjoyed spinning, but not in Florida 🙂

  7. Great work! I’m always fascinated by people’s talents. If Jennifer doesn’t appreciate your skill, she’s nuts.*

    *Sorry, Jennifer. In an effort to be supportive of Marie, I had to go “minority report” on you and find you guilty of something you haven’t done and probably wouldn’t do. I hope you forgive me.

  8. That is gorgeous and can be worn with so many different things, casual or dressy. I love the colors. I never learned to knit, but my older sister did and one of my former sisters in law crocheted. I make jewelry in my spare time. All natural stones (like turquoise, lapis, onyx, amethyst, and jasper) and freshwater pearls and metals. My daughter nor myself buys anymore jewelry, we make our own. It is so very personally gratifying.

    • Thank you, Susan! I tried making jewelry (sometimes I think I tried every craft there is …) but I don’t have the knack for it. That’s really neat that you can make your own. About the only time I buy jewelry now is when I come across handmade.

  9. Lovely shrug – the colours are amazing! Unfortunately I don’t have much time for hobbies these days although I did play the blues harmonica for a while after I got back from Memphis! I was inspired 😉 I loved it so thinking of taking it up again after Christmas – my neighbours will be pleased 😉

    • Thanks, Linda! Yes, every apartment building needs at least one harmonica player 😉 Actually, I think playing the blues on the harmonica would be pretty cool.

  10. The shrug is beautiful. The yarn was a perfect choice for that pattern. My mother was a knitter. I hate knitting. It makes my back ache because I get too tense. But I love to crochet. I made all of my family (just our collective kids!) afghans one year for Christmas. I’m not sure they appreciated them though. Just as soon as I figure out how to crochet and read at the sane time, I will get back into crocheting.

    • Thanks, Pam. I like to crochet, too, and I’ve made some garments/blankets with crochet. For a number of years, my mom crocheted “afghans” out of one granny square. Up north, they do get appreciated when the cold weather starts to set in 🙂 Good luck with crocheting and reading at the same time. It is do-able, probably with a bookstand and a simple pattern 🙂

  11. Nice post, Marie. Love that beautiful shrug! The best thing about knitting is all the colors and textures of yarn sitting in my knitting basket:>) I learned in the hospital, then aunt came and showed me different way, then friend added her way..I gave up when we brought Paul home for his final days and I figure I will take it up again when I’m an old woman.
    Genealogy is my biggest addiction aside from reading, writing, gardening, photography and walking the beach. I haven’t had a tv in…25 years or so, boredom is something I have never known. So many things to do, so little time:>)

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