Friday, June 15, 2012

To Knit or Not to Knit

Sometime during my twenties, or maybe early 30's, I asked my mom to teach me how to crochet.  She wasn't an obsessed crochet-er...she could do it, but rarely if ever, finished a project.  There were various zig-zag chunks of afghans in boxes.  So I knew she could do it.  Like her, I also have lots of unfinished projects.  Don't we all!

At the time, my creative world was about polymer clay, beads and fabric.  Before that, painting, drawing, writing.  Anything involving yarn didn't interest me.  None of my friends at the time were knitters or crocheters, so it didn't really cross my mind to try.

Anyway, mom and I sat down on the edge of my bed and she brought out a couple of crochet hooks and some yarn.  She was very clear in her instruction...she wasn't bad at explaining things, and she was very patient, except when I tried to do it myself.  My hands were all knarled up in a tense knot.  I just could not mimic the technique she was trying to show me.  After about 10 minutes of frustration, she stood up and said, "That's it!  I can't teach you how to do this!  Your hands are not doing what they need to do!  You should stick with the clay!"  (Or something like that).  Then she left the room, and from that moment forward, I was never EVER going to try to do ANYTHING with yarn.  Clay was my thing, always would be my thing, period.

Fast foward to the very present recent past.

So now I've been making polymer clay beads for 17 years this month.  I have a great stash of beads, a great stash of fabric, and all sorts of other things.  There's a really great rhythm going on in my creative world.  I can make beads, make jewelry, create bead embroidered items, whatever.  It is very hard for me to get bored around here.

My friend Terry is opening a new fabric and yarn store in Cincinnati called Silk Road Textiles.  YARN STORE?  You mean I have to help knitters and crocheters?  I don't know jack about it.  Fabric I can handle.  I have made a lot of things with fabric...mainly arty stuff.  I know fabric.  But, I have a lot of work to do.

So I decided it was time to go to an uncomfortable place in my mind.  I need to learn how to knit.  I said it.  I have to knit!  Time to face my fears and move forward.

My friend Carrie showed me in about 5 minutes how to do it...the basic knit stitch. Casting on was nothing. Knitting one row was nothing. But for some reason, I couldn't get past that first row. Was it really a lack of understanding the technique, or was it something else? I don't know, but I do know that even after I bought my first knitting needles and inexpensive yarn at Hobby Lobby and started to try it, I still put it down for several weeks.  Ovenfried Beads business had a major jump in business, and that was my priority at the time.

Then a couple of days ago, I decided, after meeting with a Rowan yarn rep for over 4 hours with Terry, (and a text from my friend Susan, who is the knitting queen), it was time to get to work.

SO, now I'm totally addicted (spent many hours in the last 3 days knitting, but I don't have much to show for it, as you'll see below) and hope to someday actually make something well.  I'm not hurrying my expectations, though.  As I start kicking butt helping Terry get the store ready to open, I will have much less free time to just play.  But now I have something new to bring with me to the laundromat.  I don't plan on putting anything on Etsy until I'm about 60 and have been knitting for 20 years.  So for now, you'll just have to visit the store to see my progress.  :)

The following photos are the first swatches I made, in chronological order.  These were all made in the last 3-4 days.

But before I sign off, I just want to say that if there is anything you think you can't do, you will never know unless you really try it and commit to practicing it. 

First dinky piece with hole.  I pulled this off the needle before I knew how to cast off.
We'll see how long THIS lasts.

Another better attempt.
Sweetie is my captive audience. She really did sit like this while I was knitting yesterday.

Somehow, I was adding on without realizing it until my 12-15 starting stitches ended up almost 30.  With the help of my friend Shari and the Knitting for Dummies videos on Youtube, I learned how to keep the sides straight.
I had this fancy gradated yarn, but it's kind of rough, and even though I maintained 36 stitches for much of this piece, it's still a triangle.

This is much better.  Not sure how I maintained 15 stitches and had that "flap" on the end appear (believe me, I counted), but I have to say it's looking much better.  This piece is going to grow, as it's a yarn I can see well and is manageable to really practice with.  Maybe it will be my first scarf.  For me, of course.