Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Knitting and me



I was taught to knit by my Gran, aged 8. She instructed me in the ways of garter stitch but it never really became part of my everyday craft vocabulary. Frankly nothing seemed to happen. Loop, stitch, loop, stitch, yawn. Cue confessional music: to me, knitting was the craft equivalent to watching paint dry. I abandoned the needles for nearly thirty years.

When I started reading craft blogs back in 2007 it was clear to me that I was missing something. People were creating swirly, twirly, ferny patterns with their yarn. They were making exquisite socks. They were knitting in three dimensions! I had a yearning to do the same but the gap between my knowledge and the knitting I was seeing on the screen seemed just too massive to bridge.



Last Spring I went along to Teen Granny's first ever knitting workshop in London to try to remedy this sorry state of affairs.  I was spurred on by her excellent tuition and afterwards I MADE myself make a small pink bunny using Julie's wonderful teeny tiny toys pattern. Three dimensions! Tiny arms! Progress! Surely I had cracked it and would soon be yarnbombing telephone boxes and knitting myself a three piece suite. Alas, it was a woolly flash in the pan. It had taken me about three hours, during the whole of which I wore an embarrassing concentration face (the Mr tells me I even stuck my tongue out at on point). On consideration I realised that I actually had to knit regularly in order to broaden my knowledge. I needed to practice.


The opportunity came in the shape of the Twitknit scarf swap organised by the very same Teen Granny. Back in October the call went out on Twitter for participants in a virtual knitting bee. We would be divided into teams and knit a section of scarf for each of our team members and send them to one another. We would each end up with a scarf knitted by the whole team. Genius. 



I saw the scarf swap as an opportunity to crack this knitting malarkey. I had to knit a whole 60cm of scarf! For me this was the craft equivalent of scaling K2. I decided to try to master a different stitch for each section. Cue many more hours with the concentration face and gazing at endless youtube knitting tutorials trying to fathom the woolly loopy code. 



The astonishing thing is that it worked! I can now claim to be able to knit *insert drum roll*: moss, basketweave, Irish mesh, and even the the fancily named 'wheat in the wind' stitch (which, I'm told, has elements of lace knitting and a faux cable. Blimey.). I also know how to add a leaf in relief to a stretch of garter. It has boosted my confidence no end. As I thought, practice was needed, and despite these scarf sections being mere trifles to seasoned knitters I feel a small sense of achievement. The scarf swap has changed my attitude to knitting: I now realise that not only is it captivating, it's also soothing, much like woolly yoga. I can add texture and make leaves if I want to. I may still be somewhat restricted in the number of dimensions I can manage but several more people now have cosier necks. A very good thing.

My own scarf is nearly completed. I will be posting pictures...



That's not all, though. Eldest (just 7) saw me knitting the scarf sections. She wanted to join in. She asked for 'a knitting set' for Christmas. On Boxing Day I cast on five stitches of sparkly pink yarn using the sweetest little bear-topped needles and we started to knit a scarf (in the early stages it was a beard, obviously) for her toy monkey. We're knitting alternate rows and we're a day or two from finishing. She is extremely excited. (the photos were taken just as she mastered making stitches - it was after dark).

Massive thanks to Teen Granny and to my fellow Twitknit scarfswappers with their lovely knitty emails. The whole experience has been utterly heart- (and neck-) warming and not only has it brought knitting back into my life it has also inspired a brand new generation of knitters.



Note: I have added a new date, Saturday 4th May, to my 2013 beginners' silver clay workshops and there is a New Year sale in my Etsy shop for the next two weeks. Enter SPEBBLENYS1 for 15% off all my current designs.

28 comments:

Celia Hart said...

Fantastic! love Monkey's scarf :-)

I've come to the end of all my knitting in progress and felt fidgety. Now crocheting my 4ply oddments into a snuggly throw... may take some time but I'm happy.

Thimbleanna said...

Yipee! You're knitting!!!! I LOVE to knit -- I just wish I had more time. Your scarf patches look wonderful!

Julie said...

The drumrolls are well deserved and well done to the next generation of knitters too! Thank you for this lovely funny post, I've had a good chuckle reading along and I would say you are a very accomplished knitter. (I have knitted in my time but sadly find it too taxing to the hands these days).

greenrabbitdesigns said...

Good for you Emma, next thing you'll have a huge yarn stash! :)
Lovely too that your little daughter has got the knitting bug as well.
V xxx

Debs Dust Bunny said...

It's wonderful that your daughter is now learning to knit. As a child I was taught all sorts of crafts at the knees of my aunts and grannies. They believed that idle hands were the devil's workshop, but I just thought it was fun. I still do! Some of my fondest childhood memories are knitted and embroidered on my heart! So it will be with your daughter. : )

Locket Pocket said...

Brilliant knittage Emma! I love little miss pebble's scarf for monkey - you can tell her that her big friend "Dot" loves knitting too :o) xxx

driftwood said...

I always feel knitting is like magic, how you it can turn a piece of long wool into something other than a huge tangle. (well sometimes anyway......)

Rachel said...

Knitting does look a lot like magic, and - done by hand - it is the least wasteful way of turning yarn into garments, too. Fun, and eco-friendly!

Frances said...

Emma, you are so modest.... You've become a fine knitter, with quite a collection of stitches. And now, how grand that you're passing knitting on to your daughter. The adorable little needles are turning out a swell little sweater for that monkey.

Please do post some follow up photos. xo

Chel C said...

All I can is 'well done'. I've only just started learning how to knit and to be honest I look over at my crochet hook and feel like I've abandoned it! I will persevere though after seeing your creations. Take care out there. Chel x

acornmoon said...

That top ball of wool is very "silver pebble" I think.
Your knitting looks very impressive to me and seeing those lovely yarns makes me want to pick up my needles again.

Mrs. Micawber said...

Wow, great work! The scarf segments are beautiful.

I'm trying to brush up on knitting this year, by learning to knit socks. And you're right - it is very soothing, and also a bit addictive. Just one more round, I'm always thinking, THEN I'll stop and cook dinner. (And I too knit with a concentration face.)

How wonderful that you've passed it on to your daughter. Who knows what she may knit one day?

Gina said...

Wow! There some pretty fancy patterns there Mrs P. And monkey's scarf is gorgeous! What a clever little girl.

floral and feather said...

Great post, definitely put a smile on my face - I'm exactly the same just need more practise but am getting there slowly!

SusieT said...

Well done,I love the square with the leaves, looks very professional.Sue

by Teresa said...

I'm glad you joined back in the knitting thing.. you've done great things with it! I can knit, but seem to prefer crochet. But love them both. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Penelope said...

I am so very pleased to hear about this wonderful and special skill being nurtured and now passed onto your daughter. I love to knit and crochet, it is so soothing and gentle. You are doing so well, I am really impressed! Enjoy! xox Penelope

Karen said...

There will be no stopping you now - you'll always have some knitting on your needles! I love this yarn too its perfect for those textured stitches. Glad your little daughter wanted to join in - all her teddies will want scarves now. Karen x

Lori ann said...

what a completely charming and heartwarming post! your knitting looks lovely, as if you've been doing it forever! i love to knit and have been most of my life and it thrills me to see this most wonderful craft spread.
maybe it will turn up in your jewelry?! a silver ball of wool and needles! love!

harmony and rosie said...

Yay, congratulations (i love the leafy square). I have just started going to a knitting class, I'm hooked now!

dragonfly said...

Ya know, I think Eldest's knitting needles are pretty much exactly the same as the ones I learnt on 40 or so years ago. I remember trying valiantly to make a lime green scarf for my Tiny Tears. There is a story there which I will tell you another time!
I feel very lucky to have one of your very first knitted masterpieces xx

julie said...

It's so lovely to hear that you have fallen in love with knitting Emma. It is the perfect, portable stress buster! You're doing amazingly well, your twitknit scarf sections are beautiful. It's lovely too that your eldest is giving it a go I think monkey will be very happy with that scarf x

Catherine said...

Yes! It gets you in the end and you are so so right that what is needed is practice. With practice comes speed, evenness and ever more stitches to add to your repetoire. I love your comment that knitting is like yoga - that is exactly right. I look forward to seeing the finished scarf

Betsy said...

Love, love, love this post! I crocheted for years, 42 years to be exact, before I took up knitting. I thought it looked too hard. Now I love both with equal passion. I'm so happy your little one is wanting to learn too. My daughter showed absolutely no interest until she was in her late 20's. She just called me this morning to tell me about her latest project. I never thought this day would come.. :-)

Blessings,
Betsy
Http://www.betsy-thesimplelifeofaqueen.blogspot.com

Lulu said...

lovely post..Glad your girl decided to join in..So sweet..

Julie said...

Your twitknit squares are lovely!!! I'd be thrilled to receive any one of them - well done! x

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

Brilliant monkey beard!

This I what I love about knitting, the most simple things are made using exactly the same knit and purl stitches, increases and decreases, as complicated things, once you can knit sooner or later you can knit anything :)

sian pitchford said...

A fabulous blog post and love the photos of your knitting and monkey's scarf!
Thanks for sharing Siân :0)