Why I Knit


Knitting and I are at a stand-off. I have a list of projects in process (baby blankets, shawls, grapes...), those that I really need to get on the needles, but that require a trip to the yarn shop first (Halloween costumes, Christmas stockings, jackets...) and those that I'm just now realizing that I need (baby legwarmers!). So, instead of showing you a picture of the two rows that I added to Silas' baby blanket this week, I thought that I would instead tell you a little bit about why I knit.

It is not a craft that ever came easily or naturally to me. I don't come from a family of knitters. My grandmother crocheted, but never when I was around and my mom went through a knitting phase in the 70s before I was born. So, it was not a part of my domestic sphere growing up. I'm not sure why I asked my mom to teach me how to knit when I was about 8-years-old, but I did. I made one dishrag-sized square out of red acrylic that I proudly displayed on my shelf before moving onto some other activity. It didn't come easily to me and that bugged me. I'm the kind of gal who likes instant success.

When I was twenty-four, I decided that knitting was something that I wanted to try again. I don't remember exactly the circumstances, but I'm fairly certain that I was trying to emulate a very cool and trendy friend who was always wearing the most beautiful scarves that she knit for herself. I decided that I wanted to knit my new boyfriend Steve a scarf for Christmas, which he graciously accepted (and wore!) despite the fact that it looked like it had been run through a paper shredder.

There was one attempt at a baby blanket for a friend and then I really started in earnest when we moved back to Iowa City, got married, and bought a house. Steve is a bit of a TV junkie and I am, decidedly, not. Knitting was something that I could do to feel productive and still sit next to him on the couch. Cold winter evenings seemed a little less cold when I could snuggle up to my love and make something.

I made a series of baby bibs, each with a new skill required, so that I was slowly forcing myself to stretch beyond garter stitch and try new things. Knitting was still so hard for me and to be honest, I really didn't enjoy it at all. My hands felt like claws from the iron grip I had on the needles. My neck ached from staring down into my lap as I tried to figure out how to read a pattern. But, I pressed on and then one day, within the last year, it all just clicked. Suddenly I was feeling the enjoyment when knitting that everyone else talked about. I was getting the itch to knit when my hands sat empty. After a few successes, I longed for more time in which to make.

And now that most of that making is for Silas, it feels so much more purposeful. There are things that he needs (like baby legwarmers!) that I can provide for him and it makes me so happy to be able to do so. I feel useful and skillful. To be able, in this small way, to opt out of all the baby consumerism and to have homemade instead of store-bought is pretty neat, I think. It was worth pushing through the tough times to get to where I am now. It's peaceful here on the other side. I like it here.

Head over to Small Things for the Yarn Along.

13 comments:

  1. yeah, i'm trying to get to that point where i want to learn new stitches or how to sew things together (like the sleeves on a sweater), but it's hard when i can just sew clothes on a machine. also, i have no yarn and no money, lol. once i finish this hat i've been working on for about 2 months, i do want to try a sweater. i know that learning is the tough part, but once you learn, it's smooth sailing....i think.

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  2. I have been knitting for so long I cannot imagine my life without it. I started when I was a child and seriously took it up when I was in my twenties.

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  3. i just started knitting recently. along with the desire to simplify, knitting seemed to go along with it! i am loving making all my gifts for x-mas except one for each from santa.

    :)
    jen

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    I've been knitting off and on since I was eight years old, too.

    What got me back into knitting 'full-time' again was the death of my mother-in-law. We were very close and I missed her something terrible. As I said in my blog post today, I need something productive to do with my hands when I'm stressed out and making hats was what got me through my grief.

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  5. I feel guilty watching a movie if I am not knitting... I feel like I have to be doing something "productive" as well..

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  6. I had to laugh when I read this post, it so much reminds me of myself. Although both my mother and grandmother were and are knitters, I had such a hard time learning it. I really don't know why but it took me numerous attempts. Like you I think I was somewhere in my twenties when I tried it again and now I can't imagine why it took me so long. One of my greatest wishes was to one day be able to knit for my baby =) Now I can knit but still don't have one ^^ But at least I'm prepared now!

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  7. This was beautiful. I wish I had learn to knit when mine were really little. I have only been knitting for about three years. I know the joy you are talking about, it didn't come right away for me, but I've got it now and I'm hooked. Good for you to stick with it. Wishing you years of happy knitting.

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  8. I can sew and I love to quilt, but I've never learned to knit or crochet. It's something on my to-do list.

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  9. I was like you and learned early, but gave it up. It was too confusing when I was little. I started to knit in earnest two years ago and am loving it. It's so wonderful to have someone (or multiple someones) to knit for. I love the idea of being able to create and give instead of buy, buy buy.

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  10. this was really lovely. i love that you persisted and now are in a comfortable confident place with your knitting. and enjoying it so much!

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  11. Good for you. I struggle to learn as a child, due to my left handed-ness, but when i married and had my first baby, I really desperately wanted to knit, so I persevered and finally worked out something. Several years later, back at work, i was struggling over my latest wip at lunch break, when an older colleague couldn't stand watching me any more and taught me to knit right handed. WHat a difference. I am not the faster knitter now by any means, but i do enjoy it. I have just learned to crochet thoug, so that is taking over a bit. xxx

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  12. Love this post glad you got over the hurdle and enjoy. I think I was very tense when I first learned to crochet and knit and now I'm glad it's thereaputic.

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  13. Sounds like you have many years of knitting 'therapy' ahead - it sure is good to have something in your hands when sitting and that in the end it turns out to be something useful, still amazes me even though I have been knitting since I was very young.
    Enjoy your new happy place and making for your family.

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