dusktreader knits

January 10, 2010

In which knitting is TOO EXCITING to do before bed

Filed under: What I talk about when I talk about knitting — Tags: , , , — dusktreader @ 7:46 pm

I recently realized that I’ve been knitting for about 6 years. After a few false starts, I bought my copy of Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘n Bitch at a boxing day sale in December 2003, and from it to learned all the basics of knitting, purling, increasing and decreasing.

The first scarf I ever knit.

This was the first scarf I ever made. Look how proud I am! Photo by my sister Sherri.

I’d originally wanted to learn so that I would have something to do while watching TV. (By the time I did learn, though, I no longer lived in a household with TV.) I soon found that what was supposed to be a relaxing hobby was not one that I could do before bed. Not because I found it frustrating (although sometimes, I did), but because it was just TOO EXCITING. Especially when I was starting a new project and I went from the point between knitting a few cast-on stitches in blind faith to the point where what I had done looked like exactly like the beginning of what was in the pattern. It was going to work! I could see it taking shape before my eyes! TOO EXCITING.

Anyway, I learned not to do it before bed because I always wanted to do just one more row. Which, just as it had with pages of the books I used to beg my mom to let me stay up to read, turned into another and another, and another…

Knitting has done a lot for me in those six years, in addition to the cute, warm accessories. It gave me a different way to exercise my brain for the latter part of my 9-year post-secondary stint. It got me through some of the longest, dryest classes during grad school. When my partner was travelling in Southeast Asia for 4 months last winter, one way I dealt with missing him was by making a picnic blanket for the two of us to have picnics on when he returned in the summer. If I was missing him, I’d knit a bit on our blanket and imagine the picnics we’d be having soon.

The picnic blanket I made last winter

Here's me stitching up the blanket. Confession: I still haven't woven in all the ends. But we have taken it out for a picnic. Photo by my cousin Megan.

I’m proud of all I’ve learned and accomplished in those six years. I don’t know everything, and that’s one of the things I like about knitting: there will always be something new to learn, when I’m ready. And right now I’m ready for my biggest challenge since I learned to knit: designing my own patterns. I’ve been able to make modifications to patterns I’ve been knitting to suit my tastes and needs from the time I looked at the ribbed scarf in Stitch n’ Bitch and decided to make it in elongated chevron stitch instead. But now I want to be able to come up with things all on my own. I want to invent my own stitches. I want to be able to picture something in my head, and translate it onto needles. It’s a process that seems full of both mystery and potential.

When I started knitting, I kept a journal to keep track of all of my projects and everything that I was learning. It was useful for keeping track of my needle sizes and pattern notes. It’s also a record of my early enthusiasm, wonder, and respect for the craft I was learning. I would take a picture of everything I knitted and tape it into the journal. After awhile, I got lazy about keeping up with it. And then I joined Ravelry, which is just about the neatest thing on the Internet and fulfilled most of the functions my journal had. But I miss having a place to record all the other observations and excitement and challenges, something that’s especially useful for me at the beginning of a new challenge like designing.

And so: a blog!

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