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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Knit Wit

Mom taught me to knit when I was about 6 years old.  I think.  I may have been older.  I only remember I wanted to knit and begged her to show me how.

Money always being on short supply, there was no trip to the yarn shop for supplies.  Instead, mom scrounged a pair of knitting needles from somewhere and took apart a kitschy doll made of rug yarn.  Such things were (I guess) popular at the time.  In my memory this doll was an octopus made of pink yarn.  A ball of yarn, or perhaps Styrofoam, made the head, the yarn, tied in the center, covered the ball.  The yarn was all gathered together at the "neck" then separated and braided to make the legs.

Mom snipped all the ties and we painstakingly un-braided that doll.  The task of tying those hundreds of short lengths of yarn together to wind into a ball was left to me.  This falls under the heading of "false economy".  It is virtually impossible to knit anything when a giant knot interrupts your scanty progress and your failing concentration every few stitches.  Still I must have persevered because I knit fairly prolifically today.

When I was about 13 I wanted to knit a sweater.  I knew how to knit, didn't I?  No reason not to tackle such a project.  Luckily, our neighbor was an avid knitter and was willing to offer assistance, advice and impromptu lessons when necessary.  She taught me to purl, to read a pattern and the basics of garment construction.  In my recollection the sweater was out of style by the time I finished.  I don't recall ever wearing it.

Anyone who knits knows there are countless tool, supplies and doodads available.  Stitch markers, point protectors, row counters, stitch holders, gauges and needle pouches.  If someone can think it up someone will make it and others will buy it.  I never went in much for these gadgets.  Needles and yarn were my basic tools with an occasional stitch holder (think large safety pin without the point) thrown in.  If I needed a stitch marker I tied a scrap of yarn into a loop.  If I needed to count rows I marked them on a scrap of paper and crossed them out as they were done.  I did not believe in spending money unnecessarily.  If a rubber band would serve as a needle holder, well, it was free!

Lately, there has been a resurgence in the popularity of knitting and, consequently, a spate of newly designed or improved knitting supplies.  Recently, a local store had a sale on knitting items.  I stopped in to check and was surprised to find the prices almost ridiculously low.  An item that might cost $3 retail was on sale for 99 cents - and not for one, for a whole packet full.  I splurged, spending maybe $5 and outfitting myself with a wardrobe of plastic stitch markers, little row counters, gauge testers and needle sizers.

These days, as I knit, I find myself reflecting on those early days and my wealth of tools today and I understand why so many knitters use them - - - they're FUN!

Quotable Quotes; in the category Practice Makes Perfect!

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.”

Elizabeth Zimmermann; Prolific knitter, author and television knitting host, and all around knitting guru of generations of knitters.

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