I have always appreciated handcrafted objects of all kinds. I was never a particularly vain child and couldn’t have cared less about clothes, but I remember three pieces of clothing that I cherished above all else: one was a white crochet dress and matching hat that I had when I was about 4-5 years old made by my grandmother, a yellow cardigan knit by my mother when I was 7, and a red and white dress sewn by friend’s grandmother. I don’t remember ever mentioning it to anyone but somehow, the fact that someone I knew had spent hours handcrafting those items made them all the more special.
I grew up secretly envying anyone who could create anything: friends who could draw, paint, play musical instruments; my mother and other relatives who could grab a bunch of ingredients and combine them to create delicious food; my cousin who could carve wood, my grandmother and aunt who could produce the most intricate crochet lace…. When I was about nine years old I learned to make crochet bracelets with my friend. I was very proud of that and now I wish someone had taught me to make more things out of crochet. For a while I could cross stitch.
Knitting seemed to me the hardest of all crafts. It puzzled me with all those needles waving in the air and somehow the act of pulling thread through the right loops produced intricate fabric. I was sure it probably required superhuman coordination and assumed anyone who knit must be super smart or talented. To be fair, I was not exposed to it much considering that I grew up in a tropical country where knitting sweaters and socks were seen most often in foreign movies on television.
In the summer of 2010 I finally took the plunge and took a couple of private classes at Lettuce Knit, a yarn shop in Kensington Market. I wish I remembered who taught me. At the end of the summer of 2010, when we drove to Prince Edward County, I started knitting my first scarf in a luxurious merino wool. Turns out it was not as impossible as I imagined and quite relaxing. Life took over, that Fall I began teaching at New College while also finishing my dissertation and the scarf lingered half unfinished in a bag.
I finally returned to it last summer. I finished the scarf (which I wore a LOT this past winter), took a couple more classes and began honing my skills. I attempted lace a bit too soon, and have knit a pair of fingerless gloves in a lovely tweed yarn, another scarf, two cowls that did not really work out because I did not keep the propery gauge, a lovely neckwarmer in alpaca for my mother, a shawl, a baby hat for my little granddaughter, and I’m now making a baby dress. I discovered a new community of knitters out there and have been learning all the lingo – Ravelry, LYS, frog, wip, DPNs, magic loop, the list goes on and on.
I can’t explain the feeling of watching a single thread being transformed into something both beautiful and practical by a combination of skill and two needles. Growing up, my solace was reading. It’s what I would do whenever I had a spare moment. I always had a book on me and I read walking down the street, waiting for the bus, waiting for appointments, in class when I was bored, everywhere. Once reading became part of my job as an academic, however, I started feeling the need to have breaks from reading. I needed something that would help me relax but also that it would get me off my head, something that I could do with my hands. Knitting has filled that hole.
Expect to see much more about yarns, patterns, fibers on this blog.