Monday, February 5, 2007

How I learned to knit

Eyeknit over at Two Sharp Sticks is having a knitiversary contest. To enter, you write about how you learned to knit. Winners will be chosen randomly and will receive knitting books - to further your learning about knitting.

When I was a child, my grandmother and her cousin (I called her "aunt") did lots of crafts - I learned needlepoint at the age of 5 (acrylic on plastic canvas), and some beading projects, sequin Christmas ornaments, etc. I stuck with needlepoint for a while, then did cross-stitch. My grandmother and aunt did do crochet a lot, but they didn't teach me. Once I asked my aunt if I could knit, and she did set me up with some sticks and yarn to make a garter stitch scarf. I found it recently and it had quite a bit of change in width! Someday I'll finish it, or make it into something. I guess that counts as really my oldest knitting WIP.

But I was at an internship during graduate school, where one of the other interns talked about crocheting lace. And I really like lace. I had only discovered that it could be handmade (I hadn't really thought it through, that antique laces are handmade), and she was making crocheted doilies. She said, "Oh, you can learn from a book." Back in Davis, CA, a friend of a friend had opened up a yarn shop. I wandered in one day and said, "My friend says you can learn to make crocheted doilies from a book." And they set me up with a wonderful book, some crochet cotton, and a steel hook.

I kept wandering in that shop, looking at all of the wonderful yarns, and the samples, and got to talking with Molly, and eventually I found out they were taking sign-ups for a beginning knitting class. I got so excited and signed up, hoping that there would be enough people signed up for the class to go forward. There were - and so at the first class, I picked out yarn (Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted, in a minty green color) and started. I don't remember where I got my first knitting needles from - they were aluminum size 9s, and I still have them (although they hurt to use). But the first weeks we learned knit and purl, and had homework to do swatches. Then we got to pick our project - I picked a hat in the round. I didn't know in the round and colorwork were "hard". Molly is so encouraging, she allowed us to do whatever we wanted. She proceeded to show us other things, like different yarn fibers, the features of ribbing and other stitches, how to fix mistakes, and seaming. I still think picking out a project for yourself is the best way to start - you don't feel you are wasting time on a scarf you don't want.

BTW, the photo is my MIL's scarf. I taught her how to knit over Christmas. But the yarn - that is my own first yarn from my yarn class. I had brought it to show her, and she loved it so much that she wanted to use it. (Good taste - the yarn in her yarn kit that I got her is Lion Brand Jiffy.) What could I say but yes? I'm glad to see my first yarn going on to be someone else's first yarn.


Brenda said...

Great learn-to-knit story! I took the UCD craft center class, but I've spent a lot of time at ISC. There's a second LYS in Davis now called Knitter's Playground. The two together cover all the bases.

Rhonda the Stitchingnut said...

I learned to knit left handed [when I was 15] from a left handed Mom, but I'm right handed and got no further than a scarf. About 10 years later I taught myself a little from a book but had already been crocheting for 5 years so did that mostly for 30 plus years, until 2 years ago. A friend taught me to knit socks toe up on 2 circulars & after one pair I couldn't stop. In fact, I obsessed with knitting now. Yup, call me NUTS about knitting!