Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Blogtoberfest Day 6: Guest Post by EssiMay

Dear readers of Bellsknits, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is EssiMay and I will be your guest poster for the day and maybe a couple of other days this October if I can get my act together to write some other scintillating vignettes about my life.

Now, long time readers and friends of Bells may be wondering who the hell I am and where on earth did I come from.

Like so many knitters, I learnt to knit on my mother's lap as a small child, producing wonky garter stitch squares with yarn overs that would make an Orenburg lace knitter cry. Every winter the needles would come out (old faux tortoiseshell and casein straight needles, kept in a dusky pink quilted satin bag with fat, bloated grey roses printed on the outside...) and Mum, the sisters and I would knit together, just sitting and knitting.

I come from a large, matriarchal multi-crafting family. My mother, and by default or inheritance, some of the sisters are the world's biggest craft whores. In my memory I can recall knitting, machine knitting, spinning and dying, weaving, sewing, patchwork, cross stitch, long stitch, decoupage, folk art and an intriguing tea caddy made of an old jam jar with floral fabric and nylon lace glued to the lid (which is still in use, might I add...).

As you can imagine, these 'pastimes' come with a lot of um... crap, sorry I mean equipment. And I love this crap. I love the fact that all these fibre arts are so much part of my family, that these arts are part of my heritage. My father bred merino sheep and was a professional wool classer. Mum.... Well, we've touched on her and her loose crafting morals.

The ancestors (who in my imagination would have gathered together for sewing and baking days, bitching about whichever sisters or sisters-in-law weren't there to defend themselves), I like to think that every stitch I knit, every foot of yarn I spin is a homage to all those who have gone before, to generations of creativity.

I knitted in solitude on and off for years. I knitted frantically when my son, His Small Royal Highness was tiny, it was fun.... I was bored. I knitted with a maniacal need for control when I was in particularly stressful job - I couldn't control anything else in my life, but I could damn well control my knitting! I trawled the internet for knitting sites, I joined Ravelry. But all that time I knitted alone.

I lurked around the forums on Ravelry, reading, laughing, improving my knitting, but most of the time too shy to post or to make friends.

Eventually this all caught up with me and depression knocked me on my arse earlier this year. As part of trying to pull myself back up, I realised that I need to stop hiding and get out there and meet some people, other than my sisters and the odd older person at work who shared my fibrey type of lifestyle. When Bells initiated a new knitting group that now meets on Thursdays at lunchtime, I thought it must be the universe telling me it was time to suck it up and get out there.

My entry into the knitting community was seemingly effortless.... Who am I kidding? It was hell! I don't think I've ever been so nervous in my life, fronting up to a group of total strangers. I know that nerves made me overcompensate - I was loud, obnoxious and mouthy. I was certain that everyone would think I was an absolute idiot and there would be covert discussions to move venues so that they didn't have to pretend to tolerate that weird new girl. I pushed myself to go back again and again, and I think (and for the sake of those around me, hope!) that the nerves settled down and I started acting like myself once more. Now I'm slightly subdued version of loud, obnoxious and mouthy, but that's because I'm an annoying fuck, not because I'm trying to prove something.

Bells and I soon realised that we work for the same faceless government department and got talking. Bells and I have a hell of a lot of shared interests, but are very different people. For one, I swear way more than Bells does and am just generally far more 'crude, rude and undesirable' than poor innocent little Bells. My apologies to anyone reading , getting offended by the 'blue' tone of this post.... Tune in again tomorrow for your regularly scheduled programming. But I have loved getting to know her, even if the state of her stash makes me break out in hives (Oi Vey, the yarn!) More importantly, it has opened up a whole new world of having a community.

I have to admit, I spend a large part of Thursday lunch watching other people knit. I know it's a cliché, but I find it endlessly fascinating to watch a knitter's hands. To watch their posture, the way they hold their needles, tension their yarn, how they form their stitches. I love being able to bring in a project for other people's input, their affirmation and advice — do I push on, or do I frog? And we talk a lot of bullshit, which has always been my measure of how good a time you're having. But mainly, it just rocks to feel like part of a knitting world. Like our mothers and grandmothers, we get to create in each other's company.


P.S After I wrote this the flood gates of repressed memory open up to released a torrent of other barely remembered crafts that my subconscious had mercifully opted to forget: latch hook, macramé, Artex paints, marauding hoards of coat hangers knit out of that God awful nylon stuff and lace, actually a hell of a lot of stuff made out of that meshy-tapey-whatever-it-is..... shudder........