Ho hum. The problem with working on a major project that doesn’t go fast, is how do I feed my blog? I have no new pictures. I have no substantial new progress. I have no new projects to show. I have no FO’s to show. A blog is a hungry creature; it needs fuel all the time. I am fresh from reading a few more vignettes in KnitLit Too, so this post is written in the spirit of the section entitled Hard Times: Through Thick, Thin, and Boucle. I will entertain readers with The True and Still Unraveling Story of My Knitting Conversion.
In my former knitting life (before conversion to a real knitter instead of a dilettante) I was a strictly one-project-at-a-time knitter. I would commit myself to a particular project, and I would stay true to that project only, until we mutually agreed to part. In those days, I would blithely start a sweater, a jacket, an adorable dress for my baby girl, confident that I could handle it. Why did I think I could handle it? Because it was all stockinette stitch, on reasonable size needles (8 or larger), with arm and neck shaping directions that I could comprehend.
In those days, I knew nothing about finishing techniques. I vaguely knew about gauge, but only in initially determining needle size. I never actually did an entire swatch, including blocking, to get a clear picture of how this garment might actually fit when I was done. I hated to go down in needle sizes, which is what the intimidating ladies in the LYS’s always said I had to do, so I’d try to knit a little tighter for awhile, and if the measurements were off by a little bit, I didn’t think that was enough to worry about. I never stopped to calculate the effect of gaining or losing 1/8 inch, every 4 inches. Hmm, it does add up, doesn’t it?
It would never have occurred to me to start more than one project at a time. I grew up hearing my mother say “Finish what you start.” It was unthinkable to take on more than one task, and equally unthinkable to contemplate not finishing.
Did I ever have a success story in those days? My first learner’s project was a red and white-striped scarf, which I did wear. I know I was aware of all the mistakes, but at age 11, who cares? I know I knit a vest after that. I have no picture in my mind of color or style…I’m reasonably sure it was a pullover, but I have no memory of neckline. I believe I put it on, took a good look in the mirror, and that’s why I have no memory. It is better to repress some things.
A pair of orange slippers came next. Knit flat, sewed together, they fit. They worked. I wore them till I wore them out. I even have a picture of the original pattern I used, from one of those Bernat pattern books. (We’re talking over 40 years ago, dear readers. Some of you haven’t lived that long yet. Don’t worry, you’ll get old too.)
Fresh from that success, I have no idea what I tried. There is a long period of non-knitting as far as I recall. Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I took up handiwork with a vengeance. I had quit smoking, so I was crocheting, quilting, rug-hooking, and crewel-working with a vengeance. I concentrated primarily on baby things, even though I still had not achieved pregnancy yet. It’s a good thing….a year later when I was pregnant, all I accomplished was throwing up often.
Those baby things….wall hangings mostly….I still have them. I’m still proud of them. I must have thought I was hot stuff. When my daughter was 2 years old. I fell in love with a little dress in Family Circle magazine. I sent my SASE for directions, bought precious soft lavender yarn, and plunged right in. What was distracting me in those days? Why did it take me a whole year to finish the knitting. I didn’t need to put it together to know it wouldn’t fit a 3 year old. I stuffed the whole thing in a garbage bag, and resolved never to knit again.
But in my usual 3-5 year cycle, the urge to knit returned. I wanted a warm oversize sweater coat for myself. I spent a fortune for some gorgeous mohair mixture. I knit the whole thing. (Simple stockinette again…what could be so hard?) I sewed it together. (Where was Sarah P. to teach me about blocking the pieces before I sewed? So what if she was just a little girl then. She was born knowing this stuff.) It was a lopsided mess. The hem hung unevenly. The stitches looked sloppy. The two sides were misshapen. Another garbage bag donation. (I probably would have died of itching from the mohair, but I know now that it would have been beautiful if I had known how to block and sew it.)
A long time passed. More than 5 years this time. I found myself in Marshall, Michigan one nice day, staring into the window of a yarn shop, and I was mesmerized. On the spot, I knew I had to go in there, and I had to bring home something to knit. I decided it had to be a garment where the fit was not crucial. The yarn shop lady was only a little intimidating. There was a coat model in the store that I loved, but I knew I wasn’t trying that again. She suggested adapting it to a triangular shawl. She didn’t have a pattern, but she told me to cast on a few stitches, and then increase every other row. When it was big enough, there was a border in a contrasting yarn that I would add. Then a fringe. Beautiful.
It should have been. When I got to the border part, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to pick up stitches. I think I knit it separately and attached it with a crochet stitch. I didn’t know a thing about mitered corners, and of course it puckered badly at the corners. I took the border off, and it was too small.
I wish I had at least known to salvage the yarn from these disasters. I could put that yarn to very good use today. The shawl was my last knitting experience Before the Conversion.
17 months ago, the urge came over me again. (I’m awfully glad I never had the urge to start smoking again. I’m not good at resisting my urges.) Why was it different this time? I give a lot of credit to the internet. I wandered into a yarn shop, came out with 5 skeins of Firenze to make a scarf and hat. We all know that even a beginner can’t screw up a simple scarf with eyelash yarn. Cast on 15 stitches and knit till it’s gone. Any stitch errors are covered in fur. I started combing the internet looking for a simple hat pattern. I found it, and tons more. What amazing resources there are for knitters! I found the message boards, my local knitting guild, answers to questions I never knew I was supposed to have. I found people like me. I found Elann.com and Yarn Express and Ebay. I found blogs (we all know where that leads)! I started taking classes. Here I am. I once was lost, but now I’m found…..and all that jazz.