Wednesday, 14 February 2007

How I learned to knit

Julie over at Samurai Knitter has started another meme of sorts. the idea is to tell your story of learning to knit and then leave a comment in her blog to say you've done it.

So, here's mine. I had to call my mum to check if she could remember teaching me to knit. She said she does but doesn't remember me doing it. Neither do I!

How I Learned to Knit

I have vague memories of learning to knit when we lived in Tasmania, where it’s miserably cold and wet for much of the year. I actually don’t remember the process of learning from my mum, but I know I produced a long garter stitch scarf for my dad, decorated with accidental holes, in an array of mismatched, odd ball colours. Apparently he did actually wear it on his cold, wet walks along a bush track to the mine where he worked. (Gosh, doesn’t that sound quaint???)

After that, things are a bit vague. I can’t remember knitting anything else for a long time, but I believe I did a bit because somewhere along the way I learned basic shaping, how to rib etc. I just don’t remember doing it, which is odd, because usually I have a great memory for such details.

But around age 8, I had a new friend at school, Angela, who came from a family of four over achieving girls who knew how to sew, knit, crochet, paint, draw and play instruments. Visiting one afternoon, I asked her mum to teach me to crochet and we started a granny square. I think I only had a couple of lessons. Not long after that, we left Tasmania and moved back to the mainland.

En route to our new home, we stayed with my Great Aunt Winifred in Melbourne. Apparently she was almost blind but she saw the crochet I was doing and taught me how to fix the mess I was making of it. Pretty soon I was happily on my way and made granny square blankets for years after that. By the time I was teenager, I’d moved onto finer work, making a simple but lacy white baby blanket for my cousin’s baptism.

Then somehow it all stopped.

Fast forward to 2000. My sister in law was expecting her first baby and in a rush of new baby joy, I made a simple granny square blanket for her. Then a friend’s mother heard the story of the baby blanket and asked could I make one for the grandchild she was expecting. I felt anxious because she wanted something delicate, more like a shawl. Together we bought baby wool, a crochet hook and pattern and I tentatively made my way back into crochet. I kinda liked it. I remembered how happy it made me as a kid.

So I crocheted for a few more years until inexplicably, I bought a pair of plastic needles, some wool and a book of simple baby patterns in about 2004. Before I hit the baby patterns, I found an old pattern book of my mum’s that had household items in it. I made a basket weave stitch hot water bottle cosy. I was so pleased with the result. Then I started looking around on the net for more patterns, found there were way more interesting knitting patterns than crochet patterns and I was off. Blogging followed a year or so later.

The thing is, I put off knitting during the crochet years because it struck me that it’s much easier to work with one stitch on a hook than potentially countless stitches on a knitting needle. I was afraid of it, I think. No more. I’m so glad I learned the basics in childhood so that when I wanted to pick it up again as an adult, I didn’t have to start from scratch.