Friday, 2 October 2009

Blogtoberfest Day 2: A Plain Knitter

Garter Stitch Bib

Recently when I was scanning my current projects, I realised that most of them are lace of some variety. Two of them are very fine, delicate lace. Two of them are less so. At that moment, the words of a knitter I knew very briefly a few years ago came back to haunt me. I knew her through a lunch time group of crafters who met in my department in 2005. It was short lived as a group, everyone drifting off after only a few months.

As I sat there in a sunny conference room we were using for our lunch time gatherings, this woman said to me, 'You're a plain knitter, Helen, aren't you?'

Was I? I hardly knew. I looked down at my project. I recall it was a vest (I made quite a few in 2005). It was bright green, Patons Bluebell, acres of stocking stitch. I suppose it was plain. But what did she mean?

Was it a put down of my work? Or simply a comment? To this day I don't really know but I took it as a slight on my skills at the time. I was still new. Of course I was going to be doing plain stuff. What on earth could I do to change it? And did I want to?

I was knitting garments. Garments I was wearing with pride. To me that was the epitome of what I hoped for from my knitting. I had no idea yet of doing anything like socks, or lace! I doubt I even knew you could do such a thing. The thought of it! I grew up watching my mum make cardigans and jumpers we all wore for years. Nearly always stocking stitch, garter stitch or rib. Good, proper, plain but beautiful knitting. I was simply doing what I thought knitters did.

The woman's words haunted me when I was going over my lace projects and I wondered if instead of seeing what she said as a slight, I could see it as a starting point for when I began to try and do bigger, bolder things. Maybe. Maybe not. I think it was quite some time before I began to expand. I hadn't found knitting on the internet in 2005. I didn't know people were out there doing amazing things, making incredible pieces in such clever ways. I only knew about my 'plain knitting.' I thought a bit of shaping for waists or shoulders was downright clever.

On the bus yesterday, I was working on a garter stitch bib for Baby Alice. Could it get more plain than a cotton, garter stitch bib? I ran my hands across the neat, even rows imagining when in a few days I'll put it around Alice's neck and watch her dribble pureed fruit or some such down it.

There's a place for plain knitting and it's beautiful and comforting and I won't ever stop doing it. For me it's always been about the stitches, neat rows stacked on top of each other making something wearable and wonderful. Plain or otherwise.