Thursday, March 01, 2007

To knit

About a week ago, I got a notion that I wanted to start knitting again. "Start again" might be overstating it because the last time I knit was about 20 years ago (I was a tiny babe!).

My first knitting memory is from when I was a toddler on a train ride and my mother was knitting. I ran up and down the corridor and when I got back to Mom, I promptly sat on her aluminum knitting needles. I let out such a howl that my parents were afraid that I'd been seriously wounded.

When my mom told me this story, it sounded vaguely familiar. I can still sort of remember it. (Mom, if you're reading--confirm? Deny? Amend?)

A few months later, Mom finally finished the project she was working on: a sleeveless mini-dress for then three-year-old me. It was blue with three tiny squares of white across the chest and I was able to wear it exactly once before I outgrew it. After that, my mom stopped knitting.

Many years later, Mom still had her knitting kit. The special bag, a knitting book, the needles and the remainder of the blue and white yarn. I decided I wanted to learn to knit and she taught me. Caveatting everything with, "I don't do it quite right because I'm left handed." Still, she managed to teach me. Right around this time, my first nephew was born (the one who got married last March). We decided to knit him a present. Why we thought woolen gear was a fit present for a baby living in Israel, I'm not sure, but it didn't seem odd at the time.

I knit mitties (mittens without thumbs) and mom knit a hat with a big blue pom-pom. I have a picture of my sister-in-law holding my nephew aloft, wearing the hat and mitties. Very cute.

That's the last time I knit.

As you may know, either from the internet, or just looking around, knitting is now hip. All the cool kids are doing it. For years, as I observed the knitting phenomenon, I thought, "I know how to knit. It's not that hard. But it's hard." The hard part is counting stitches and following patterns and finishing projects. Before I learned to knit, I thought it would be a good thing to do while watching tv. But I was wrong. My hands were slow and clumsy and I had to watch what I was doing. I couldn't watch tv AND knit. After finishing the first project, I discarded it as a hobby.

Recently, I've found that even though I watch as much tv as ever, I don't really "watch." The tv is on and I'm listening but I'm always doing something else--mostly reading blogs, writing a blog, or, sometimes, mindlessly playing solitaire.

When I found myself playing solitaire and not watching the tv I thought, "I could be knitting right now and not watching just as much tv." And I decided I was going to buy some needles, yarn and a beginning book.

My first attempt was on Saturday but I arrived at the knitting store too early. I went back last night on the way to meet Pele for a drink. I told the lady I was a beginner and she picked out needles for me (bamboo; aluminum is passé) and told me to choose some thicker yarn (easier for beginners) in a color I liked. When I later explained I was re-learning she said, "Oh, you'll remember."

"After 20 years?"

"You'd be surprised."

And I was. When I got home last night, with the help of some online videos, (and despite two cocktails) I managed to cast on and start knitting. I just remembered. Today, I watched the videos more carefully and I saw I was doing things "wrong." I started over. I looked again and found that my first way wasn't wrong so much as an alternative method ("combined" knitting, apparently). I also learned there are two major ways to knit, "Continental" and "throwing/American/English." I was doing the throwing style, combined variation. I tried to do the Continental style but found myself clumsy and slow while using it--though it's a faster, smoother style. It's also a more comfortable style because you don't move your arms around as much. I've decided I'll get comfortable with my current style and then learn Continental later.

While things are generally good in my life, I realized I wanted to knit because I'm missing a sense of accomplishment. I can't make a relationship last, I can't finish my infuriating tasks at work and I long to have a sense of completing something--even if it's only a swatch (I'm making a scarf!). Knitting, at least in the short term, may help fill this gap. Or at least give me something to do while I watch tv.

Grateful for: knitting

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