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Friday, April 14, 2017

How I learned to knit

A friend gave me a bag of yarn she thought I'd like. She's weeding out her stash. This is one of those balls. White background with random bursts of rainbow and white metallic eyelash.

The little ball had 97 yards on it, if I read the weird and possibly foreign label correctly. After looking in vain for a pattern that would match, I decided to knit it up in simple garter stitch and see how far it went. It'll make a decorative scarf.

Knitting this fine yarn on thin needles in garter stitch gave me a flashback to learning how to knit. You see, both my mom and her mom were awesome crocheters, doing everything from lace doilies to afghans. I so wanted to learn, but I just couldn't get the hang of it. Finally I gave up.

I think I was eight when Mom's church group had a project of knitting bandages for a leper colony. If I'm right about my age that would have been sometime around 1961. The bandages had to be knitted from a certain kind of fine cotton yarn on very thin needles. I was fascinated by this process. I asked Mom to teach me that, and she did, but she was rather annoyed. "I hate knitting," she said. "I can teach you to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off, but that's it."

I loved it and knitted half her bandages. Afterwards, I knitted everyone I knew garter stitch scarves out of that good old acrylic Red Heart yarn that was nearly bulletproof. It was the only yarn I knew of at that time. Eventually, when I found some simple patterns, I branched out. When the craft became more popular and I found others who knitted and an amazing variety of yarns, I learned more stitches and more creative projects. Now I can knit lace - haven't yet attempted a doily, but I've found some patterns - and cables, and have knitted sweaters, hats, mittens, leg warmers, socks, toys.

It's the perfect craft for someone like me. I master a new craft and promptly am bored with it. There is no way anyone could learn every single knitting stitch, every technique. There's always something new to try. And it all started with bandages for a leper colony.

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