Monday, October 22, 2007

That's Random: The Knitters

Yesterday, Laurel and I attended a mother-daughter "Learn to Knit" party that I'd signed up for at a school auction.

Now, let me preface this by saying that the domestic arts have never been my forte: I don't cook much that doesn't involve boiling water or a microwave (though I have been known to bake on occasion -- albeit nothing much more complicated than the Toll House recipe), can't sew to save my life, and leave things like pumpkin-carving or anything involving cutting and gluing to my husband, who has much more patience and facility for these kinds of things than I do.

Suffice it to say, I'm pretty much hopeless when it comes to traditional domesticity -- decorating being the one (arguable) exception. My mother was a pioneering career woman, not a homemaker, and she's inspired me in different ways.

That said, I've always glanced longingly over at the women I see pulling out their knitting at meetings and other gatherings, admiring the way their fingers fly so deftly as coils of yarn are miraculously transformed at their touch into brightly colored ribbons of hundreds upon hundreds of tiny knots -- all while they nod along with the speaker or chat with friends. It's always struck me as incredibly meditative and cozy.

So yesterday, thanks to the guidance of three very patient instructors, Laurel and I actually learned how to knit! I got the casting-on part down pretty quickly, but the actual knitting part proved a bit more challenging for my big, clumsy fingers to master. Still, I did finally get the hang of it, repeating over and over under my breath, "Put the bunny in the burrow, give the bunny a scarf, take the bunny out of the burrow ... "

I've already ripped out my lopsided, raggedy rows five times since then, and am pretty much going to be glued to the illustrations on Learn-to-Knit any time I pick up the needles. I doubt I'll ever get past the basic knit stitch -- the purl stitch seems utterly unfathomable to me at this point, and likely will forever. But while there probably aren't any home-knit sweaters in my future, there may be a lumpy, awkwardly crafted scarf or two. And to klutzy, home-arts-impaired me, that feels like a huge accomplishment.

Laurel, on the other hand, took to knitting like a seasoned pro (that's her handiwork above; my own is not fit to be photographed). The girl is a natural. Once she got the basic concept down she was off and knitting, her long, delicate fingers in constant motion and her brow furrowed in concentration. Before the party's end, she was halfway to a potholder and by dinnertime, she pretty much had one (her macho big brother was even impressed enough to ask her to show him how to knit). She's totally jazzed about knitting, and is already crafting elaborate plans for a trip to our local yarn store to stock up on supplies.

I honestly don't know where she came from, but Ms. Martha had better watch out for this girl.

Anyway: Yay, knitting! (And thank you Adrienne, Lisa, and Stephanie!)


Kelli said...

Hi, I've just recently started reading your blog and really enjoy it! Please keep trying with the knitting. I hardly ever knit anything other than scarves because it's so easy to do while watching TV. You're right that it's meditative, and you'll get to a point that you don't even have to look at it or really think about what you're doing. I got a little burned out a while back, after accumulating a large stockpile of scarves, and my husband said he actually missed seeing me knit because it was relaxing to HIM!

Anonymous said...

As a child, I was never one for the "domestic arts", though in recent years I have been trying to improve in many areas. I tried to learn to knit several times throughout my childhood, but it never caught on. But two years ago I tried again, and it stuck! Even if you never make anything beyond a scarf, do it to enjoy it. I know many people who simply knit for the sake of knitting, rather than a finished product.

I love that yarn your daughter is using. Such beautiful colors!

Anonymous said...

I have been writing about this sort of thing too lately and I have to say I am right there with you on the lack of talent for knitting and baking much beyond the toll house cookie recipe! I always feel slightly ashamed when I see some of my friends domestic abilities, like I somehow have missed the boat on something. But, I just tell myself I am busy with the kids, a career or other things and I don't want to knit anyways. Maybe I secretly do, but I am afraid I will fail miserably. Who knows. I do want to try embroidery. That seems so domestic to me, and not so drastic if you mess it up. I would end up with a mis-shapen sweater for sure.

Your blog is great fun, I think I mentioned that before, but I love your humor and fun things you post about.


kelly said...

Another great site for knitting assistance is

She's got fantastic videos that really show you where to put your bunny in that burrow (I've never heard that before -- it's cute!)

Sometimes videos can help if/when illustrations leave you scratching your head. Don't give up -- most people (Laurel excluded, apparently) start out with lopsided, raggedy rows! Give yourself a chance to get the hang of it -- they'll even out.

If not, just get crazy lumpy yarn and blame the yarn! ;)

Leah said...

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone! I *am* going to keep at it, even if Laurel is already knitting circles around me.



Unknown said...

New to your blog : ) I was coming to post, too! The videos are great. I taught myself how to knit using only this site. It is awesome! I just started a few weeks ago and am totally addicted to knitting.

Pigtown*Design said...

I gave my niece (and me) knitting lessons at a local shop last year. I already knew how to knit, but hand't done it in a while. She picked it up so quickly. This is a present she will remember forever, as will your daughter.

Anonymous said...

The purl stitch is not so mysterious as all that. It's more or less the knit stitch. You just put the needle in from the back to the front rather than vice versa. Think about it this way- what you're doing is making a knit stitch, just on the other side of the fabric.

It may seem hard at the start, as your fingers and hands try and learn what they're doing, but with some practice, you too will be knitting fantastic things while chatting along. Honestly, practice is all it takes. All knitting is is pulling a loop through another loop (again and again and again and again). Your hands will get the muscle memory it takes to knit while paying attention to other things, with time and practice.

Good luck. Knitting has to be the best past time ever. Calming and you get useful stuff. What could be better?

Anonymous said...

I'm new to knitting and am always on the lookout for websites to aid me. The links you had were very helpful. I wanted to pass along a video site I found that has a few basic how to videos with great tips on knitting. I'm not sure if you're interested in how to knit videos, but I found these useful when I was just starting out.


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