One of the main things we believe at Knit Luck is that knitting can change your life, that it can help you get through rough times and connect you to a supporitve community of amazing people. When my friend Tamara revealed that she was recovering from a stress-related breakdown I knew I had to send her a learn to knit kit. I made sure to let her know that she was under no pressure to love knitting or to be good at it, but that it might be fun to try. What do you know? She is such a natural knitter that I'm more than a little suspicious that she's done it before. So much so that she's already dreaming of owning her own fiber arts shop. So please join me in welcoming Tamara to Knit Luck. Check out her own blog about coping with stress and follow along as she learns how to knit.
Tamara Kay Learns to Knit Part 1 - Becoming a Knitting Legend
My new friend Angela is a knitting genius. An evil knitting genius. In her deviousness she has sent me a Learn to Knit Kit from Lion Brand Yarn, and a handy little tool kit with all these extra gizmos. She kindly (?) included two books, Stitch ‘n Bitch The Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller and A Life in Stitches, Knitting My Way Through Love, Loss, and Laughter by Rachael Herron. At least I’ll get a good read out of this right?
A little background on me. I am a 52 year old, extremely happily married woman who recently had a mini breakdown due to long term job related stress. I'm on medical leave from work while I deal with getting my brain back. It's been an interesting journey. Dear, sweet, out of her mind Angela thought knitting might help me on my road to recovery.
After reading through the little book included in the Learn to Knit Kit and the first couple of chapters of Stitch 'n Bitch, this is my opinion of that idea:
Angela is out of her ever loving gourd. It's a cute gourd, but evidently it's as whackadoodle as my gourd is currently. The only thing that really stands out to me is on the bottom of the instruction sheet in the Learn to Knit Kit in very large letters is *Write to Lion Brand "Learn to Knit Special" for a free pattern for your next project. I think this is overly optimistic of Lion Brand.
After a couple of hours of casting on attempts, with several suggestions of how to do it from my dear husband Ken, everything gets put right back in the box for another day. Angela is obviously bonkers and I'm no longer talking to Ken. The box taunts me as I walk past it the next couple of days. I hate failing.
Two days later we are heading to our daughter's graduation from Baylor and Ken suggests I try the knitting thing again. After all, I'm going to be trapped in the car for two hours, I might as well spend the time constructively. I reluctantly agree. I don't know how or why, but suddenly casting on makes perfect sense. On go 14 stitches, and I'm off. I re-read the instructions for the garter stitch from the booklet from the kit and from the book. The booklet makes more sense to me and soon I have four or five rows of stitches. I'm not sure how to tell how many exactly, but thank goodness the instructions just call for about 10 inches of this stitch and isn't very particular about how many rows it takes me to get there.
I mention to Ken that I appear to be a natural. He states that he used to watch his grandmother knit and her needles didn't wing around in the air as much as mine did. I kindly tell him to mind his own business. Well honey, you have poked me in the ribs a couple times. I look up and around and we are 1/4 of the way to Waco and I've managed to knit about three inches of scarf. Yeesh. I put my head down and get to work. My needles are flying and my scarf is taking shape. Soon I have a full 10 inches of slightly mangled garter stitches, and I'm proud. My book suggests I count my loops. There are 18 of them. How did that happen? I follow the instructions for trying to untick my work to see where I went awry. I'm back down to three inches. Crap. Text message to Angela and she thinks perhaps I pulled the yarn to the front of my needles instead of pushing it to the back. Huh? Ok, starting again, counting loops after every row, up to about six inches and it all looks fabulous, and I get cocky again and stop counting. This time when I get to the 10 inch mark I have 20 loops. I curse out loud. Ken laughs. I warn him that these needles might be plastic and look dull, but with enough force can pierce an ear. I unravel all the way back to the beginning. I need to practice all that casting on business anyway.
This time I get all 10 inches done and I have 14 loops. I am a knitting virtuoso. This is the most fabulous scarf ever knitted since time began. I will be a knitting legend.
Stockinette is next.
I hope whoever invented purling is in a special place in hell. I have purled and unraveled this one row of this crappy scarf so many times the yarn looks distinctively unyarn like. Ken thinks it looks like a hair ball. I remind him that divorces cost a lot of money and shouldn't he have both eyes on the road? I finally manage to get a whole row of purls that look somewhat like the ones in the book and I get to knit a whole row. My needles fly. This, THIS is what knitting should be. Crap, now another row of purling. Sweat is beading up on my brow, my armpits are sticky, my fingers reach for the window button so I can throw this whole demon scarf out the damned window, and Ken laughs. Bastard. I'll show him. About 1/2 way down the row I GET IT. Purl, flip, knit, flip, purl, flip, knit, flip. I have 10 inches of stockinette and 14 loops. I am a knitting god I tell you. Gifted even.
Ribbing makes perfect sense to me. Knit 2, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2. Oh my God, I love Angela, I love my husband, my daughter is graduating from Baylor, and I am a knitting prodigy. Well, a senile prodigy, but a prodigy nonetheless.
Five inches into my ribs and I have 20 loops. No worries, I can unravel back. I know I had 14 at the end of the stockinette so, not much to undo. But we are in Waco and I have to stop.
To be continued...
What was it like when you learned to knit? What were your frustrations? Share your story in the comments.