Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why blog as 'Knit Whisperer'?

Did I ever tell you how I learned to knit?

My mom crocheted. When we were kids, like elementary school age, we would go to the thrift store, I think it was a Salvation Army in our neighborhood, and Mom would find bags of yarn. Some of it was unwanted stash but the majority seemed to be Unfinished Objects (UFO's in the knitting universe) or projects. She would have us unknot the stuff which I believe helped us with problem solving skills, or puzzles. One of her biggest projects was to make each of us, I had four siblings, an afghan in a different theme color. Mine was purple which had been a theme color for me before. To differentiate my socks from my sisters, aside from the fact that they were several sizes bigger than theirs which were very similar in size, she put a running thread of purple in the toes.

I know that once she must have knitted, as there is a photo of my brother in a chocolate brown argyle somewhere, but I don't remember her ever knitting. I only remember her crocheting. Even with her diabetes causing her eyesight to fail, she continued until recently, crocheting blankets for different family members, baby or wedding shower gifts.

When I was in Junior High, on breaks from school, after I got pretty well fed up with reading her Harlequins (they seemed pretty much the same story everytime) I got into her stash of crocheting and found a how-to-knit book and a pair of knitting needles. I learned to knit from a book. After accomplishing all I could from her book, I went to the library. I borrowed books and magazines.

My interest waned in high school, I think, mostly because I was busy running all over the county either walking, riding my bike or the bus in really inclement weather, to get to school or my jobs. I picked it up after I was married. My sister-in-law was pregnant so I crocheted a hideous afghan, the edges weren't anything near straight. I would have preferred knitting but thought it would take forever to get it done and wouldn't have the density to be warm. Another sister-in-law went to a knit shop, spent an obscene amount of money to knit a sweater for herself, and when I said I could knit, she said something to the effect of 'Maybe, but I bet you can't change colors'.

With that dare, my desire for knitting became addictive. I read everything, bought all I could afford. The need to knit to keep my family warm was intense. Shortly after that, the need for any improvement on my own skill to make quality product, as good or better than store bought, fueled my craving for knitting literature.

That was more than twenty years ago. For many years, it was hard to find anything at the library on the newsstands that fed my needs. So many things in magazines seemed to be poorly made. Why so many seams, when it would have hung better knit in all one piece? Why did they use that cast on, a machine knit piece wouldn't have any edges that horrible? This improved the quality of how my stuff is constructed, but the budget spent on materials always having been poor, I was unfairly limited on what I could create.

That, however, did not stop me. If I was limited to only acrylic, then I could created beautiful cardigans that could be shed if the owner got too warm. I was relieved that nothing I made would be distroyed or declared otherwise unusable because the owner didn't understand how to take care of what I'd lovingly stitched and made just for them. I didn't keep anything I'd made myself because, by the time I'd gotten something completed, I'd grown pretty tired of looking at it and just needed it out of my vision. Forever. AND I was fairly prolific.

The outcome of all of this is that no pattern is beyond me. Sure, I get exasperated because things seem to be not completely thought through. For example, one of my current projects is a sweater. The person who created this pattern and sold it, charged actual hard-earned dollars, did not include any stitch counts whatsoever. Fun. I can't imagine that a new knitter would appreciate that and the next time, I will be penciling in my stitch counts. If there is a next time, if I get the chance to do it again.

From time to time then, I am approached by people for help. It happens a lot at my knitting group, which, really, I don't mind. Sometimes rather than rip something out to the beginning, they will allow me to fix the one stitch that messed up the effect of what they are knitting. I try to show them how I'm doing it, but there is so much fear and panic that what they've done is irreversible, I find they are blinded by this fear and they don't see what it is I've done. The next time, they will try to fix it, get frustrated and rip it out, which breaks my heart that all their hard work is gone. Also, I pray that their yarn doesn't get worn from yanking it out in frustration.

Occasionally what happens to me is that a stranger will come in my office door, during business hours, while I'm in my Self-Storage manager mode, and say that someone sent them to see me because they couldn't get through a problem with a pattern they are working on, or don't understand why it is they are not getting through a tough spot. So far, these have all been knitting related, but I could have helped with crocheting as well, just hasn't happened yet.

My husband, who is my hero, my Superman, said after one such visit, 'Wow, honey, you are some kind of Knitting Whisperer aren't you?'

Oh, my. Wouldn't that be nice? I think when I grow up, it would be an honor to help someone out of their stuck place. Anything to prevent them putting down the the handcraft that I love.

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