I suppose anyone who reads this blog has ascertained that I’m a pretty enthusiastic knitter.
I didn’t get into knitting until about 2005 or so. I was going through an insane amount of stress, I had some friends who knitted and it looked cool and I like having something to do with my hands while watching a movie and things like that. I made some scarves and a hat or two, and it was fun, but I didn’t really groove on knitting until I learned to knit in the round making toe-up socks with short row heels. In fact, I don’t know how to make a traditional heel to this day. My favorite socks are the ones I knit myself. They’re warmer than the cotton jobs you buy in department stores, being wool and all. The hand-washing, though, is a bit of a pain.
I made a sweater after I’d been knitting about six months. A friend kindly sent me The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns after a complaint about the fact that I knew how to use a sloper in sewing, so why didn’t knitting have something like that? I don’t much like trying to create to a specific pattern, you see. But there are garment templates to work and create from. I learned a lot from this book, still use it for making mittens and hat and think it’s a good book for any knitter who likes to create her own work, but needs a good canvas to start from.
That sweater I made? It proved three things: The Sweater Curse is real, I hate sewing up a sweater, and I prefer knitting in the round to knitting flat when it comes to garments. It wasn’t a very good sweater, mind. I did my best, but I wasn’t skilled enough yet.
Some time later, I got a copy of Knitting Without Tears. Now, I’d always wanted to be able to knit sweaters and had a feeling that if I just didn’t have to seam the darned things, I’d have something nice that I’d be content to wear or to give to someone else. I live in Northern New England. You’d be hard put to find a more practical application of knitting than making sweaters. It’s no wonder that some of the most gorgeous and inventive garments in the knitting tradition are local to Northern Europe. Once I’d learned stranded knitting using a two fisted technique (yes, I can knit with my right or left hand — useful when you’re carrying two colors of yarn), you bet I was going to start knitting sweaters in the Nordic and Icelandic traditions.
It is the inherent practicality of it that I love, though. Knitting is like banked time. Think of how much waiting we do in our lives — waiting in line at the bank, waiting at the airport, riding in the car to get somewhere, waiting at the doctor’s office. You’d be amazed how many of the socks I wear are knitted on airplanes or trains. There are socks I have that remind me of trips I’ve taken because they were created while travelling. When you knit, that time becomes productive time. At the end of it, you have a real sweater you can wear for years, or socks that keep your feet toasty warm.