You know, I really tried to make the ABC-along posts about things other than knitting, because it just seemed so obvious a post. Well, this is my one deviation. I could have made it about my daughter Kandis, but I think she would have freaked out and I’ll just save that for her birthday. So, though it lacks imagination, it is meaningful to me:
"K" is for Knitting
When I was 12, a friend lifted a ball of rug yarn from her grandma’s knitting basket and smuggled it to school to teach me to knit during gym class. She didn’t, however, manage to grab the knitting needles, so I learned the fundamentals of knitting on 2 pencils and a misappropriated ball of rug yarn. Something about the whole process captured my soul.
There was a little neighborhood shop, The Let’s Knit Shop close to our home and I would walk up there and sit around with all the older women and knit as they chatted, smoked and drank coffee, all the while knitting and shopping and planning the next project. Mrs. Harter, the woman that owned the shop would help me if I got stuck. She knited American style. Mrs. Armbruster, her partner from Germany knitted Continental. I think that’s why I knit a hybridized Continental style, they were both a heavy influence on the development of my skill.
I knit this afghan for my maternal grandmother. I got it back when she died. It was kept for many years in a plastic bag in the linen closet because my grandmother was very alergic to wool, but I didn’t know that. Notice the 70′s colors? Notice the big stitches? It was knit holding 5 different yarn colors together on size 35 needles. They were all the rage for the impatient knitter. I think this was knit around 1970, I was 14. So this afghan, the oldest thing I have that was knitted by me is 36 years old.
When I moved to Austin in the 1980′s there was one yarn shop – Donna’s Yarn Barn and I shopped there often. I wanted badly to make an aran sweater, but I didn’t trust my skill level since I had never had any formal classes. Donna assured me that I possessed the skill and told me that if I got stuck, she’d help me out. This is my first aran sweater. From a Vogue Knitting magazine, knit with something like Fisherman’s wool, with the lanolin still in it, in about 1989. I still wear it, though it is much baggier than I wear sweaters now. It’s still warm and that’s what’s important to me in the winter. The design was actually a re-styled update of an even older pattern they ran back in the 60′s or 70′s.
While browsing the dollar table at a mall bookstore one day some time later, I ran across a copy of Anne MacDonald’s No Idle Hands. I snapped it up and began devouring it. I had never bought or read a book about knitting that wasn’t patterns and techniques. I finally understood what drew me to knitting. And I finally felt the connection I shared with my grandmothers and all those women who came before me and those who follow. Then I REALLY wanted to knit some socks. But the very act of knitting with DPN’s on such small needles mystified me. I mentioned this to Donna and she encouraged me. She sold me a book she said had the best instuctions and she warned me not to try to over-think it, just follow the instructions and once again, if I got stuch, she’d be there. These chunky raggedy socks are my first pair. I still wear them, though I make more refined and better fitting socks than these now.
The oldest pattern that I still own is this little pamphlet from Bernat of just vests, copyright 1978. I made two of one of the designs and I wore mine for over 20 years. I still like some of the designs, just not the ones on the cover. The pattern didn’t provide yardages or even guage, just specified a particular Bernat yarn.
The oldest tools I still own are these wooden needles which belonged to my paternal grandmother. I never saw her knit, though I now own a gorgeous crocheted cotton bedspread she made while my dad was in the Navy during WWII. One of these is pretty badly scorched and I don’t know why. My grandmother was burned very badly as a young woman, but she wasn’t knitting, she was ironing with one of those irons that are heated in a open hearth. Her dress caught fire and she ran out of the house in a panic. My grandfather was walking home from work for lunch when he saw her and chased her down and rolled her on the ground to put out the flames. The scars were still visible on non-public parts of her body in her old age. I don’t know what else if anything burned in the house. I’ve never knitted anything with these needles, I keep them in remembrance and in continuing that connection from one knitting generation to the next.
What’s the oldest knitting or knitted thing you own?