How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time? Was it the celebrity knitting ‘trend’ or your great aunt Hilda?
I wish I could tell everyone a story about how I learned to knit by sitting at my grandmother’s knee, but the truth is a lot less romantic and a whole lot messier than that. And fairly clouded by teen angst.
It was my junior year of high school, and I found myself in a state of flux with my friends. I had come upon a (slightly older) group of punk rock, DIY-obsessed people that I idolized. They had silk-screened tee shirts and zines and mix tapes, and I was completely lured in by their siren call. I began immersing myself in creation in whatever form I could manage, from mix tape making to illustration, and decided that I needed something to do with my hands while I listened back to those tapes, or waited for gouache to dry. Wandering the aisles of a local big-box craft store, I found a ‘learn to knit kit,’ bought a pound of electric blue acrylic yarn, some hot pink plastic needles, and sat down to learn to knit on my own from a book. I was instantly obsessed, and completed that first scarf, dropped stitches and all, within a week. My next project was a Harry Potter scarf for a boy I was smitten with at the time. Since I didn’t know anything about gauge, or really much about knitting at all at that point, it was knit on size 6 needles with worsted weight yarn and ended up hovering around 8 feet. I’m fairly certain I never saw him wear it.
I think I gave up knitting for about a year and a half, then.
And when I found myself a freshman in college in Boston, trying to navigate my way through a new world full of people I didn’t know, I became very scared and lonely. I spent more time with poetry than people then, and one day sat down, digging to the bottom of my chest of things from home to find new books, when I stumbled upon a lone skein of yarn and some thick needles. It was a natural cotton yarn with slubs of colorful wool woven in, and I set out to knit myself a little neck warmer. I watched YouTube videos that proved I had taught myself how to knit the wrong way–wrapping the yarn the opposite way, as many self-taught knitters do–and quickly picked up the craft again. After that point, I was unstoppable.
This is the only image I have of any knits from that time in my life. I’m fairly certain that, during a night of drunken celebration, I wrapped that scarf around some other girl’s neck and told her to love it. And I’m glad for that (partially because, come on, that yarn is mega clown barf).
My craft was something born out of inspiration and aspiration, and synthesized into something that provided comfort and security when I felt like I had none. Now, it’s still a mix of both of those things: I find myself aspiring to be a better, more creative knitter, and certainly admire many of the knitters (and crafters) that I meet in life and online; at the same time, knitting provides a sense of belonging to a vast community when I sometimes feel detached, and gives me something to lean on when I am at my worst.
Here’s to a week of knit-blogging! Let’s hope I make it.