Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Inconspicuous Knitting

I never knit before February of this year. I had never really had the urge or felt that I needed to for any reason. Then I for some reason decided to take a free class at my library (where I take boy every Wednesday for story times). I was totally hooked. I took a class the following week, and without knowing much more than knit and purl, was already knitting in the round with 5 needles. I would be up at 5a.m. baking bread, and marvelling as I waited on the oven that I had actual pattern going on all of those needles. Since that revelation of knowing two basic stitches, I have just completed my 6th project, but all are incognito, so are not posted as photographs here. I have to have a purpose to my knitting after all, and my purpose is gifting. (I'm usually too excited to keep it to myself, however, and share obsessively with the non-recipients...)
I decided to order yarn online for my last project (the one I just finished) and this amazing parcel from Canada was at my doorstep in like 3 days. I couldn't resist taking these photos, it was like Christmas arriving in that box...

I had a vague idea what my yarns were going to look like thanks to the virtual color my computer provided, but I was so much more excited than I thought I would be. I ripped open the box, and immediately cast on 46 stitches for my project.

So far, I've been finding my patterns for free online - and with miraculous results. I only choose things I can figure out, or that YouTube can teach me. It's insane, that YouTube. I actually watched AnneB knit (continental style) at least 30 times on my iPod trying desperately to see how her hands moved so efficiently. http://http//www.youtube.com/watch?v=78_pwiudOl4 I would, before this, hopelessly twist my yarn and constantly have to stop and let it unwind, much the way a yo-yo needs to be unspun. I wished so much that I had had this urge to knit years ago when my Grandmother could have taught me, and I could have watched human hands. But AnneB did prove to be a great help. After my serial watchings, and then lots of repetitive practice, I was able to master it and not twist my yarn anymore.

All the while I grew up in the the Northwoods of Wisconsin, my Gram would knit. Not just knit - that is too casual a word for the amazing art that she produced. She raised sheep (and even angora rabbits), and purely as a hobby she sheared them, washed, dyed and carded the wool, then spun the wool and THEN knit. Pure perfection. I have several things that I cherish that she has made, and many skeins of beautiful wool, expertly spun as fine as any machine. I admit, I felt guilt ordering online from Canada, when not so long ago, my Gram would have be able to produce any whim I could have come up with. Last Christmas, I took up needle felting with the abundance of wool that she has given me. For a short time, I was addicted to making little animals that I gave away as gifts. She has also given me a spinning wheel, and I'm sure soon it will be a natural curiosity that will lead me blindly into figuring that out as well.

obsessively needle felted gifts

My maternal Grandmother and Great Grandmother were both skilled in fiber arts: My Mom has told my that my Great Grandmother (Nana) used to be able to see a crochet pattern in a window in Chicago, where she lived, and she could stand outside with her gear and work it up right there. Nana passed away when I was 8 or so, and I still credit her with my earliest food memory: pea soup. And while my own Mom doesn't knit now, she definitely could if the spirit shook her, she made her first sweater when she was 15. My paternal Grandmother was able to knit as well, although later she developed rheumatoid arthritis and was no longer able. Convinced it was a girl, she knit a petite sweater set in pink to bring home her first child, my Father, in. She also brought it to bring home my Dad's two younger brothers. I came home from the hospital in it too - the first in the appropriate pink, but so did my little son, who oddly enough I thought was a girl...

So now I am without my amazing Gram to teach me hands on, and I somehow am managing to limp on with my computer's support...but every time I pick up my needles (all of which came from her) I can feel connected to part of my past, and part of my Grandmother's past. I'm glad it allows me to feel so much like her, and lets me remember the happy days of my childhood watching her knit in the background.

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