Saturday, May 17, 2014

How I Learned to Knit

When I was nineteen years old, I moved to Los Angeles briefly. Another friend had coincidentally moved to Long Beach shortly before, and another to Venice right after. It helped to have people I knew nearby, and I ended up spending quite a lot of time in Long Beach in the nine months or so that I lived on the west coast.

My friend in long beach introduced me to what at the time seemed like a great pastime. As much as I enjoyed knitting and found it to be not only easier than crochet (ha!), but also a very relaxing and therapeutic activity, it soon became clear that I would never finish a sweater because it just took too freaking long.

Fast forward years later and the tables have turned. I finally conquered crochet and now wonder how I ever found knitting to be so relaxing. I actually have an early blog post on my return to knitting a few years ago, where I discovered the trick to completing a project (at least for me) is thicker needles. I still have yet to knit a sweater, but it could happen.

How I Learned to Knit

I taught myself to knit from a book over twenty years ago.  It was something that had always appealed to me so I got a book and a set of needles and some yarn and started knitting.  I had always had trouble following crochet patterns but I found knitting to be relatively simple and very relaxing.
My first knitting project was a ribbed peach sweater.  Unfortunately I never completed it.  While I had a lot of enthusiasm for knitting I had no idea as a beginner just how long it actually would take to complete an entire sweater.   Needless to say it wasn’t the right first project choice for me. 
Even though I enjoyed knitting and found it to be therapeutic even, life had other plans and my knitting efforts soon got sidetracked.  Many, many years later I had tons of yarn and I told myself it was time to start using it up or get rid of it.  I was already working with hand dyed textiles so I decided to crochet a few scarves.  After that I moved on to simple hats combining yarns for texture and color.
While crochet was fast and easy enough, it still didn’t give the same texture as knitted textiles so once again I broke out the knitting needles and decided I would work in garter stitch (all knits and no purls).  It should have been easy and simple, but after having spent a year and a half with the almost instant gratification that is crochet, it was extremely hard to finish even a simple knitted scarf.
I chose a great variegated brushed yarn in shades of green which was ideal for knitting and while my work was attractive I found it terribly tedious.  In the time it took me to complete my scarf I could have crocheted at least four or more.  I suppose I am a glutton for punishment, because I have started another, also in garter.
I used to find knitting so relaxing and now it’s driving me nuts.  I have decided to see it as a life lesson in patience because I know that if I stick with it the rewards will be great.  I have a bit of a yarn fetish and I need an excuse for all the fabulous fiber I keep bringing home.
I have learned to use the largest needles possible to make the work go easier, but it still takes a long time to see the rows start to evolve into something functional.  I am currently working on a scarf using US 13 (9mm) needles and I just bought a pair of US 17 (12.5 mm) needles that I am looking forward to trying out.
Learning to knit was easy enough; I bought a book and followed the directions for casting on and knitting and purling.  I just didn’t know it would take twenty years to complete my first knitting project.  Now that I am on a roll though, I hope to keep going and going and going.
Ha! So much for going and going! The farthest I've gone since writing that article in 2010 is to knit a handful of scarves. Maybe I just need to become a lady of leisure so I can have a whole day to quilt, knit, paint, and create all those other not-done-in-one-day things I never get around to starting/finishing.

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