September 7, 2012

First Knits

When a non-knitter thinks of knitting, according to my informal research over the last eight years, "Grandma," "ancient," and "rocking chair" are the most common associated terms. Let me clarify that the person that taught me to knit was not my grandmother, nor was she ancient, and we didn't sit in rocking chairs when I learned. In fact, at the time she was a high school student, and unless I'm missing something, being sixteen isn't ancient. And we sat on a couch because at her house, there were no rocking chairs to be found (on the second floor).

Think about where knitting has crossed paths with your life. The cartoons? Your grandmother? Your mother? TV? Pickles Comics? All these images from the media do not portray knitting accurately. Most knitters do not hold their sticks downwards, and none just rub their needles together to create a bunch of fabric coming down in no time. And another thing, time is critical. 

It's time for a pop-quiz!

How long do you think it takes to knit a simple scarf 4 feet long and 8 inches wide, with acrylic yarn and size 10 needles?

a) 30 minutes

b)1 hour
c) 2 hours
d)4 hours

If you guessed a, b, or c, the media is ruining your life. You're wrong. If you guessed d, that's probably how long it would take me, and I've been knitting for eight years. I've also become a lot faster over the years, because like anything, practice certainly makes a difference. 

Knitting requires oodles of patience. And practice. And yarn. That's why I have about 150 balls of it and it still feels like nothing. And SEX (Stash Enrichment Expeditions) are still one of my favorite things to do, especially when I'm not paying for it (which is never...)

One of the great things about a hobby like knitting is that it although it is a little expensive, it feels very productive and especially rewarding when you manage to complete a project. They make great gifts (until you run out of creative things to give to the same person) and keep you warm when you're making it, especially if it's a half-done blanket. If you choose to make something for yourself, and you happen to mention this fact after someone asks where you bought the scarf you're wearing and finished earlier that morning before school, it's the greatest feeling. And if you just assume that the gifts you made for other people get the same comments when they're wearing them (assuming your friends do end up wearing it), it's an even better feeling when you feel that your handiwork is making its way around the city (or state, country, or world, if you have a large friend network). Knitting is more productive than playing video games. I could write an entire entry about that. Or browsing Facebook. Or watching TV, sitting in the car, or doing homework. I'm not trying to discourage you from traveling in automotive horseless carriages (yet), but I always feel more productive knitting a hat while in the car AND getting community service hours all at the same time. That way instead of being bored on a road trip to LA, I just earn seven hours of community service. 

So now that I've told you why knitting is so awesome, maybe you were wondering why I started. Because I didn't learn all this stuff until a few years into it, so none of the aforementioned reasons were motivations of mine. 

To be honest, the blame is entirely upon the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. If you were a lucky third grader, you may have been forced to read one or more of these books. You probably didn't enjoy them, but I did. My reaction was nothing short of wanting to live their life because it was so cool. They knit all their warmth, sewed all their own clothes, baked all their own bread, and grew all their own food. Self-sustenance ftw. It's still a goal of mine. Kind of. 

So since my parents wouldn't even consider moving to South Dakota (and in retrospect I don't blame them one little bit) and building a log cabin and working on a small family farm that are very rare in existence in this day and age, knitting would have to do to mimic their lifestyle. And quilting, sewing, embroidery, and hanging the clothes out to dry in the backyard. Since I already "knew" how to do those other things, learning how to knit was first on the checklist. 

Our family was having dinner with some family friends. The other family has three daughters at least eight years wiser than I am. They had abilities far superior than mine [are], and one of their many talents was being able to figure out how to make me think that they loved "playing" with me. After dinner, we all went up to the playroom/study room/library/ I don't know what the room was classified as, but it was definitely a room. The middle daughter was showing me her knitting basket, and I asked her if she'd knit something for me. She did. It was a yellow rectangle about three inches by one inch that said "LIZ" on it via different stitching. Unfortunately, I don't have it anymore. I already spent some time yesterday looking for it. I wasn't that impressed, but it didn't matter. I simply flat out told her that "I'd like to learn how to knit." And ten minutes later, I had some knitting needles and yarn and was what I considered myself to be a pro. I could cast on, knit the garter stitch, and cast off. In my world that lasted twelve months, that's all there was to knitting. After half an hour or so, I had to go home. I couldn't take her knitting needles home with me so I cast off, carried my little knit work home and was determined to knit some more tomorrow.

There was just one problem: I didn't have any knitting needles! Whatever, I thought. Where there's a will, there's a way. I found two #2 pencils that were exactly the same length when perfectly sharpened, and started knitting my second piece ever (see picture below). When my mom found out, she cracked up when she saw graphite on every inch of yarn that I'd used. I was convinced that my entire knitting career was going to be rock solid with pencils, but my mother was skeptical. She took me to the yarn store where I bought a pair of size 7 knitting needles, and three skeins of Red Heart 100% acrylic yarn, the ultimate beginners package. And since that moment, I never really stopped. 

My oldest knitted work that I still have ever. The pink, purple, white, and first half of the green were knit with pencils. The top blue multicolor yarn was one of the three skeins I bought in my first knitting shopping spree.

Thanks for reading this! Let me know what you think or what you'd like me to include in later posts by commenting below. If you don't want to miss a post, feel free to subscribe; if pressing a button sounds like too much work to you right now, I'll try to make a new post every Friday, so just check back here next week. 

Happy crafting!

P.S. If you have some yarn lying around your house and want to start knitting and have no knitting needles, don't use pencils. The household remedy I'd recommend would be chopsticks.

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