Sunday, September 10, 2006

How I got (back) Into Knitting

Yes, Trish, I'll write more on Mexico. Just for you! Just not today...

Yesterday's weather...Cloudy with a chance of Coffee. It was great to have some rain, even for one day.

I don't have anything new to show 'cuz I've been working on my science experiment all weekend. It's looking pretty cool...wouldn't you just love to see it?? Sorry, shouldn't taunt.

Knitters often ask other knitters how long they've been knitting, and how they got into it in the first place, so I thought I'd stab my Addi Turbos into that topic. Am I the only one who thinks of them as lethal weapons? I'm talking about the straight ones, not the circulars. They look like something that would show up sticking out of someone's back in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Like so many of you, I grew up with a knitter mom. I NEVER wanted to knit. And knitting didn't want me either. When I was in grade-3, everyone in our class was supposed to knit a square to be sewn into an afghan for charity. I didn't knit a square. I made a mess. It never became anything but a bad hair-do. When I was about twelve years old, a colleague of my dad's married a beautiful Trinidadian woman. The colleague was an ass, but the woman was a delight, and I loved her a lot. When she had a baby boy, I longed to knit a sweater for him. I bought pale yellow yarn and gave knitting a second chance. I finished the back and a sleeve, and then knitting left me for another woman. I think my mom finished the sweater.

In grade-10, I desperately wanted to own a striped sweater I had seen in a magazine. My mom encouraged me to knit one, and heaving a sigh of deep mistrust, I ventured forth again. This time I began to enjoy myself. I think I got three pieces done before something screwed up, probably me, and there went the relationship once again. Believe it or not, I did give it one more try when I was around twenty years old. A minty green cardigan in that minty green that had its day sometime in 1985 and then should have quietly disappeared forever, but didn't. It migrated to polyester pants where it lives to this day. If you wear those pants, I'd rather not know about it.

After the minty green disaster, I declared, in the manner of Scarlett O'Hara, that as God was my witness, I'd never knit again!

Until three years ago in June.

I was away on a weekend holiday in Tofino with some friends, one of whom was the Denise from the bikini story. Denise was knitting a sweater and making it look kind of fun. I picked up a ball of whatever she was knitting. It was soft and creamy white. It was Bernat Denim Style. There was a free pattern on the ball band. The pattern was for a sweater that was right up my alley. Knitting batted its eyes at me. Old longings stirred. I was in pretty bad shape back then. I had a condition called "All Fucked Up." That's a medical term, by the way. Anyway, I had about three activities in my repertoire at that time: walking, sleeping, and staring at the wall. I thought that if I could knit that sweater and actually finish it, then maybe, just maybe, I could add knitting to the list, and that might add some...colour to my life.

I drove out to Michael's and bought five balls of Denim Style in my favorite faded green and a book called "I Can't Believe I'm Knitting." The chick on the cover of the book was a bit scary. She looked like she was hopped up on amphetamines. But I snuck past her to relearn how to cast on, how to knit, how to purl, how to decrease, how to bind off. And I made that sweater in less than two weeks. It turned out! I had finished a project! I was hooked.

I found a pattern booklet by Patons called "Endless Summer." Summery patterns done in Patons Fresco. I found an LYS, walked in, and asked the woman, "Do you have any Patons Fresco??" she looked at me a bit oddly, but pointed me toward the Fresco. I bought enough black to do a tank, enough white to do a sweater, and enough variegated blue to do...not sure. I didn't have a size 9 needle. They didn't have aluminum in that size, and I didn't want plastic. So she handed me a pair of Stainless Steel Beauties. I didn't know what they were for two more years. She said they would fly, so I said "fine," and bought my first pair of Addi's. I loved the way they clanked together when I worked on that Fresco. I got a lot of anger out with those needles.

Now when I remember the odd look she gave me over my excitement to find Fresco, I get it. I was in an LYS. My LYS. The one that's only ten minutes from my house. The one that has lots of my money. I was in an LYS filled with wonderful natural fibers, lovely imported yarns, and I was thrilled that they carried Patons Fresco! Last I checked you can get Fresco on line at Yarn by the Bag for about ninety percent off. Oh served me well back then.

My second finished item ever was this white sweater done in Patons Fresco. I finished it about two weeks after the green sweater. It fit like a dream and I still wear it. You've got to hand it to Fresco for its wash and wearability. It can't help that it is synthetic. Not a great photograph, but you get the idea. Oh, and while we're on the topic, those patterns are wonderful. I'm working on a twin for this sweater in the black Katrina. Ebony and Ivory...(insert bad singing here).

My third project ever: black shell (Fresco, natch) with a slip-rib pattern. I love this sweater and wear it every summer. In fact, I wore it to church today, so it was no big deal to nab a photo of it.

After that, I was knitting like a mad fool. I went back to the LYS (gee...Toto...I don't think we're in Michael's anymore...), and this time I began to look around and really see things. I discovered merino. My personal Holy Grail of yarn is the softest merino. I am a sucker for nice merino and for merino blends. Just wait until you see what I'm expecting to get in the mail tomorrow.

This green sweater is a Sirdar pattern. Shhh...don't tell anyone -- it's a kids pattern, but I can get away with the largest size. It's knitted in Davos, a merino blend, and I did it in less than a week. It's a slouchy favorite.

I completed all these projects before my first summer of knitting had ended. I made H a sweater in the multi-blue Fresco (she still wears it), and C got a cool over-sized hoodie in Sirdar Denim Chunky. I bought a few decent knitting books: Sally Melville's "The Knit Stitch," and "The Stitch 'n Bitch" one by Debbie Stoller. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Oh...and my very first sweater? Long gone to charity. It turned out, but it turned out huge. And then it turned out huger when I washed it. And it pilled. And I hate Bernat. So there phbbbbbt!


CatBookMom said...

A survey of how many knitters, besides you and me, have survived AFU Syndrome would be an interesting science project. Hint, hint. I'm amazed that you were that fast even at the beginning; the only other knitter I know who 'took off' that fast is Grumperina. Funnily, you've also described what I call 'knitting over 4 decades but not consecutively'.

jayne said...

That's hilarious! I was just leaving a comment at your blog. I can be pretty grumpy too -- maybe that's what makes us fast lol.

Trish said...

Merinooooooo, merinooooo, merinoooooo. . . .
But, I have used Fresco, too!

Grace Yaskovic said...

was thinking of many comments like how I actually began knitting in the dark ages (40 years ago) and had that same love hate relationship but its good fodder for a future blog!!! AND I too love merino, I mean love Merino although right now I am thinking of cheating with some Tilli Tomas silk...............

junior_goddess said...

Thank God we all learned how to make our stuff fit better! Yours looks good!

Jacklyn Craft said...

Awesome knitting blog. I'm an addict myself.

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