The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

07 August 2011

Inside circle of the knitter's club

I have been on the outside of the knitter's club for a long long time.  My whole life, in fact.  It's not that I haven't knocked on the door... I have.  I've even entered the foyer... twice.  But both times I found myself back on the outside, my nose pressed against the window, looking in at all those who have figured out the wily, secretive ways of needle and yarn.

When a wee person of about 8 years of age, my Oma tried to teach me how to knit.  She laughed at how I clutched the needles under my arms, pressed against my body to keep them from falling. I mastered The Square, and made a very very long scarf in green wool with a little hint of a white stripe.  Then on my own I made a much smaller one to wrap around Snoopy's neck to keep him warm. (Snoopy, the Peanuts character and my special stuffed animal friend)  The scarf was roughly triangular in shape as it either gained or lost stitches somewhere along the way.

Years later at my first job (in a library, surprise, surprise), one of the women spent her lunch break knitting one beautiful dainty after another, needles clacking at an impossibly quick tempo. She convinced me it was be easy as anything to learn how, and she would show me how.  She helped me select a pattern for a sweater (!) and then to choose the right yarn.  I was going to knit a gorgeous sweater for my sister.  I learned how to knit a rib stitch, how to read the pattern, how to switch colours, move on to a new ball of wool.  She did the fixing of dropped stitches for me, promising that we'd get to that eventually.She, too, laughed at how I held the needles tucked tight against my body to keep them from falling. I worked my way up the piece which was to be the back of the sweater just to the point where the recipe...err, directions... called for decreasing for the arm hole.

That's when we moved.  Good bye helpful knitting friend.  Good bye dreams of beautiful knitted things. That was a long time ago.  My sister of maybe 13 or 14 at the time, now has a son of 11. We still laugh about the unfinished sweater waiting patiently in my trunk with all those balls of yarn.  I laugh about it, but in the back of my mind has been the thought that I really want to get the hang of this knitting business some day.  I want to know how to read a pattern and create something from the work of my hands out of yarn I have chosen myself from bins and bins of wool in gorgeous colours and textures. I want to learn how on earth the pros managed to find and repair those pesky - and hidden - dropped stitches. More than anything, I want to learn how to hold the needles properly!

The local library here is offering a four part beginner's knitting class.  I'm going to give it another try, curious to know if it is possible to unlearn or relearn a skill well enough to eventually become comfortable with it.  Will I ever reach the state where I am able to repair my own mistakes?  Will I one day be sitting in a comfy chair, before a pleasantly crackling fire, while between nimble and competent fingers really long squares of exquisite work appear?

 I might even eventually move on to other shapes.  Stay tuned: the first class is tomorrow.

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